Over the last decade teenagers across the world have been exposed not only to traditional tactics of bullying in real life, but also the added layer of cyber bullying with the advent of social media. The effects of bullying are varied and can harm the victim’s emotional well-being, self-esteem, reputation and in some cases, their bodies. Teenagers often feel isolated, alone, and scared, as if there’s no way out.
According to the *National Center for Education Statistics, girls are three times more likely to be cyber bullied than boys. While boys are prone to physical bullying, girls are more inclined to relational bullying. This means that girls are more likely to exclude others from activities, social circles and spreading rumours to improve their social standing and control others. This form of bullying is subtle and can go on unnoticed for a long time.
Despina Senatore, author of Soar!, the guidebook that seeks to help teen girls navigate the turbulent waters of puberty prepares them to deal with adolescence through practical examples and resources; mindfulness exercises and exposing them to a myriad of potential careers to keep their eyes on the future and work towards the women they want to become.
“It’s important to make your teen girls aware of cyber bullying and equip them to deal with it if needed. Things have changed since we were children and our kids are bullied in invisible ways that can leave them despondent, depressed or suffering from anxiety,” says Senatore.
Below are some tips to help your teen girl cope:
It’s not you, it’s them
Most bullies pick on others because they are often unhappy with themselves and are trying to hide their own fears and insecurities. Even though it’s not comfort at the time, your teen girl should remember being bullied is not her fault nor is there something wrong with her.
If she’s getting bullied, she should confide in a trusted adult. Sharing will help her feel less alone and scared, and an adult can help her to report the bullying.
Social media security settings are important
She should keep her passwords safe and not share them with anyone. Tighten up security settings to make sure that only her friends can engage with her content. Likes on social media posts aren’t the be-all and end-all. She should never share personal information like her phone number or email address to social media.
Keep a record
If someone is cyberbullying her, she should take screenshots and keep it in a safe place. This will come in handy if she wants to report the bullying.
Don’t respond or retaliate
It’s tempting to want to respond, but the best thing is not to. Bullies often want a reaction from their victims and will leave them deflated if they don’t get any.
Block the bullies
There’s no shame in blocking anyone on social media or WhatsApp if they are sending hurtful messages.
Report the bullies
All social media sites have policies against abuse and victims can report abusive accounts directly to the sites.
Stay off anonymous sites
Teenagers should stay away from anonymous websites. It’s a paradise for bullies because they can hide.
Purchase your copy of Soar! at https://purposefulwoman.co.za/online/ for R150 (excl. delivery) or if you are a LO teacher or Career councillor reach out to Despina on her website https://www.purposefulwoman.co.za/ to discuss how Soar! can be incorporated into your lesson plans.