This week, with the initiative of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, the White House hosted the first-ever White House Conference On Bullying Prevention. Primarily, the Conference was aimed at parents and educators, but it offered a wealth of information and opportunity for all.
As part of the event, Facebook hosted a live, interactive webinar in which I attended and participated. For “cyber” purposes, this webinar was a significant feature of the Conference. It underscored the important role that social media can play in helping to organize and communicate various messages as well as mobilize action.
During the Facebook feed, some interesting and startling statistics were shared by the presenters, all experts on the subject of bullying and its long-term effects on our children and society. For example, boys who bully or are bullied are exponentially more likely, by the age of 24, to commit acts of criminal violence. This statistic strongly suggests that, at least when it comes to males, bullying does not end with childhood. It becomes an adult trait, similar to the trait shown in young males who are victims of child abuse or witness a parent being victimized.
In today’s world, however, bullying does not end at the school yard. Bullies “follow” kids home via their computers and other devices. This phenomenon has given rise to an entirely new concept: “cyber-bullying.” In many instances, children feel as thought they can never escape the bully because they are after them on Facebook, Twitter and in other virtual worlds.
One positive statistic that came out of the Facebook feed, however, indicates that 86% of parents are “friends” with their children on Facebook. This statistic is encouraging because it belies the common notion that parents are abdicating their roles to virtual babysitters, which now includes the Internet. Instead, when it comes to Facebook, it would appear that the vast majority of parents are taking an active role in monitoring their children.
This is no easy task for parents, of course. When children reach their teenage years in particular, they begin to assert a “right to privacy,” as well they should. Parents must carefully balance that budding need for privacy with legitimate concerns about exploitation and victimization. Any parent that is making a heartfelt effort in this area deserves encouragement and support because society, as a whole, suffers when our children suffer.
Over the course of next week, both here and at , I will be writing about the issue of bullies, both at school and in the workplace. I was & Wrongsbullied as a kid, so I know first-hand how traumatic it can be. As a civil rights lawyer, I came across a number of situations involving bullying that escalated until someone was either injured or lost their livelihood. Over and over, I saw examples where the victim became the one who was blamed, rather than curtailing the abuser.
The issue of bullying is an issue of great significance. The President and First Lady are to be congratulated for advancing a greater awareness on this issue and for being a catalyst for change.
For more information on this topic, please visit the official website for the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention. For an excellent site discussing teenage bullying, as well as other specific sub-topics related to bullying, please check out Bullying Statistics. I will be referring to the statistics on this website more in the coming week.
- White House Conference On Bullying Prevention — Obama, Duncan, Experts Weigh In (huffingtonpost.com)
- White House conference aims to combat cyberbullying (blogs.consumerreports.org)
- At White House Conference, President Obama, First Lady Focus on Bullying – ABC News (news.google.com)