It’s no secret that Cyber Bullying and youth suicide are of growing concern and we are the first generation of parents to have to deal with this new threat to our children.
We watch the nightly news reports with unease as we hear of another child who has committed suicide as a result of cyber bullying and wonder what we can do to protect our children. The current measures which attempt to address bullying in our schools are failing because so many of them have failed to properly addressing the underlying dynamics which cause violence and these are: Shame and to a lesser degree, attachment. In addition to this our current views on bully management, often places the emphasis on punishment instead of prevention, and the reality is that the punishment only serves to enhance feelings of shame and in turn – increases the violent behaviour.
When we face a public health problem, an epidemic that is physically and emotionally harming thousands of young people, we need to rally our forces and do what is required to eliminate the problem. The time has come for us to acknowledge that violence in our schools is an issue that can be and must be addressed, and that it is not by preaching against the evil of violence, any more than by preaching against cancer, that the problem will be cured. It requires the willingness to look realistically at what we know, and to commit to doing what is necessary.
Deep fundamental shifts in our ways of thinking foster visible changes within society – understanding the deeper dynamics of violence such as bullying, leads to development of effective solutions both in the present and for the future.
I have looked at the root causes of violence, which are universal, and studied the most effective ways in which violent offenders are learning new behaviours all over the world. What I have learnt is that the purpose of violence is to force respect from other people. The less self-respect people feel for themselves, the more they are dependent on respect from others; for without a certain minimal amount of respect from others or the self, the self begins to feel dead inside, numb and empty. When people lack self-respect, and feel they are incapable of eliciting respect from others in the form of admiration for their achievements or their personalities, they may see no other way to get respect except in the form of fear, which could be thought of as a kind of substitute for admiration; and bullying does elicit fear, as it is intended to. Bullying in all its forms is intended to do just that, to get respect for those that have none for themselves. For when we feel a certain level of love and respect for ourselves we do not feel the need to get it from others by use of fear or force.
There is an epidemic of a lack of ‘self acceptance’ within our children and this may be where the cure to the problem of cyber bullying lies. When our children are worried about their ‘worth’ and ‘self esteem’ it creates dependence on peer acceptance and dependence on something so fickle, creates fear and anxiety.
If we really want to protect our children from cyber bullies, the only real and lasting protection we can offer them is to help them to learn Self Acceptance and Resilience.
No cyber bully can win against children, young people and adults who enjoy the mental, emotional and social well-being that emerges with simple self acceptance and resilience.
Amanda Robinson is the author of ‘The Silent Crisis – Simple Ways to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse’ and an ex police officer who has worked with both the victims and perpetrators of child sexual abuse. In the course of her work, she has developed a deep empathy and compassion for the victims of abuse and an in-depth understanding of the dynamics involved in child sexual abuse including the physical, emotional and spiritual wounds that are inflicted upon its young victims.