Anti-Social Media

wordsOne in five children between the ages of 11 and 16 are bullied online. That’s according to a recent NSPCA survey.

Bullying is always devastating. But, in some ways, I’m glad that I suffered the old school version.

Don’t get me wrong.  It was horrible.  And it screwed me up.  But at least back then, it had a real time and place.  In my day, there was no such thing as trolls: you had the courtesy of being insulted  face-to-face.  You knew who your tormentors were and usually, where they lived. There were people who could help you. And the abuse itself had verbal and physical limits. The school gates. The hallway.  The front door.  Somewhere to curl up and cry and regroup.  A place they couldn’t get you.

That was bad enough. But what if you can’t outrun your pursuers?  What if they were in your bedroom – or your pocket? Faces you can’t see.  Lies you can’t stop.  Each flashing light, a fist.  You have another new message. You could switch it off or close your account.  But then you shut out your friends too.  You cut the cords that keep you connected.  You lose the warnings – what to fear and what to expect. You read the messages and you want to kill yourself; but you sever the communication and you may as well be dead.

Of course, it’s nothing serious.  Nothing physical – at least, till later.

Funny thing tho, words.  They stick and splinter; under the skin.  Years later, you’re still picking them out.  You get tired of fighting – and instead of arguing back, you start to listen. 

If they call you a slut, then why not behave like one?

If they say that you’re fat, then why not get thinner?

If you feel like you’re bleeding and no-one can see – then make the cuts real. Do whatever it takes to fit in. And if you fail…well.

If you can’t silence them; then silence yourself.

If this is you, then please know you’re not alone.

You’re not who the bullies say you are – and there are people who can help

Childline: can help you work out the best way to deal with cyber bullying or just be there so you can talk things through with someone. Call free on 0800 1111 or chat to to them online.

See also BullyingUK  and Beat Bullying.

For parents, some ideas: 

bbc webwise

NHS advice

O2 parent guidelines 




5 thoughts on “Anti-Social Media

  1. I was bullied all through school. It is horrible, and I really can’t imagine how much harder it is today. Your bullies are the whole world when you are at school.
    Folks, you need to know that the world is bigger. Those small-minded, petty individuals who live to make your life miserable are nothing. They are not God. They don’t matter. In fact, they bully you to make themselves feel like they do matter. Their day will pass. Please talk to someone. Maybe even go to your local church and talk to the pastor there. Find out about the God who is bigger than bullies. Christ is a king who sets up kings and tears them down.

  2. Thanks Jo – very powerful.

    Ash you’re right; God is bigger than the bullies and He sees what others don’t. Their day will pass but in the meantime, youth leaders, your pastor, parents, teachers, friends are people it might be good to talk to.

  3. Hi Emma, it’s not just the bullying it’s the ‘grooming’ too. I recently heard of a child who had been groomed persistently online. So much so that she ended up sending two boys (possibly men), who live abroad, naked pictures of herself. She is 12. Her whole demeanour changed, she was withdrawn, angry at everything, not spending time with her family, disturbed, moody. (Like an ordinary teenage but to an extraordinary extreme)
    She is a Christian as are her parents. But she felt to humiliated and guilty to talk to them. Her parents confronted her, and eventually she confessed what she had done. They were able to then take action to protect her. With just one click those photos could have been all around her school. Can you imagine the devastating humiliation that would of caused? (That’s the stuff of teen suicide) Those boys (men) still have those naked photos of her, there’s no way of getting them back. Smart phones mean our children are in even more danger. Where as with computers it’s easier to see what is going on. With Smart phones and iPods are children are in even more danger. You can’t be looking over their shoulder all the times. Spot checks are a good idea – no warning, take the device & go through it with your child.
    This child’s accounts were permenantly deleted, killed by her parents. Once the accounts were killed they prayed with her, she repented and asked for God’s forgiveness.
    Her demeanour has since has completely changed, she said ‘I feel free now, I have a whole new fresh start’ Jesus gave her that, (as well as a delete button.) And she has learnt some very valuable lessons. For example – No matter what she has done her parents will still love her, they will help her get out of any mess she gets herself into. The parents feel like they have their daughter back, now she is no longer feeling guilty for what she had done. No more secrets. Her parents met her mistake, with love, mercy, compassion and they didn’t judge her. Her parents had a lot of God given wisdom. But can you imagine how distraught they felt for their daughter. How angry they felt at those perpetrators, who knew how old she was? They befriended her and then persistently bullied her, groomed her, to get her to violate her privacy. And it all happened when she was in her bedroom, or in the lounge right under their roof. The perpetrators were right there, violating their daughter. They are gutted. They are grateful to God for the intervention that he instigated.
    If your child won’t let you see their phone or ipod, if they throw the line at you ‘don’t you trust me’, you need to be concerned, and you need to act. Our children aren’t capable of making good choices all the time, their brain hasn’t developed that fully yet. Also you can tell them, ‘I do trust you in many other areas. But not in this area, they is obviously something you are trying to hide, that they don’t want you to see.’ It’s our job as parents to protect our children from these internet trolls. And it’s hard. They are everywhere.
    These parents felt they had taught their daughter about the dangers of strangers on the internet, internet safety etc, people not always being who they say they are. But children are young, precious they relish it when someone likes them, thinks their pretty… And that’s how it starts. During puberty they are looking for constant reassurance, and they will take it from anywhere. This 12 year old started puberty at 10! By 12 she is a fully developed woman! And that’s scary, they are developing younger and younger.
    She has learnt so much from her mistake. She won’t be repeating it. But what a horrible way to learn. Her parents thank God for protecting her, from it getting even more out of hand. She realises how close she was to her whole school seeing her naked. She is a happy girl again now, the weight lifted and the fresh start she has made, puts God first. Now she is really looking at her body as a gift to give her husband on her wedding night. Not for anyone else. And her parents have increased their unannounced spot checks, so she knows that she must have nothing on her phone or ipod that she wouldn’t want them to see.
    God help us as we try to protect our children, please God protect our children from the things we miss, are hidden from us, or go unseen.

  4. FH&L

    The instant-ness of the internet has not created the danger but it does seem to have given it steroids! There’s no ignoring the influencing power of media now. I was bullied by nasty girls and over two decades ago I was a child who did very dangerous things as a result of social pressure, so I shudder at the possibilities you share.

    Noting new, but much easier for perpetrators.

    Even as adults we need to live openly and have accountability with those close to us (I’m not implying government oversight here, but relational transparency)

    I just read that when the marriage statistics for 2011 came out the report said that in 33% of divorce filings “facebook” was sighted in the paperwork as a factor that led to the divorce.

    Anti social indeed.

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