Newsflash: Bullying Was Around Before Facebook

I’ve maintained frequently on this blog that cyber bullying is a major concern.  The rise of social networking sites like Facebook has meant that bullying is more rampant and invasive now than it’s ever been. But let’s not forget that cyber bullying is a manifestation of conventional bullying – and that cannot be blamed on Facebook.

That’s why I find then following article troubling:

CHILDREN as young as eight are being treated for anxiety problems triggered by social-networking sites.

Psychologists say modern technology is producing a growing number of children needing therapy to deal with distress arising from posts on Facebook and other sites.

Darryl Cross, a clinical psychologist from Crossways Consulting, said anxiety caused by technology was a growing concern.

“Modern-day technologies and social-networking sites are contributing significantly to child and adolescent anxiety,” he said.

“It is an international phenomenon.”

Although anxiety was an established disorder, more modern triggers were lead to more distressed teenagers, Dr Cross said.

“But also, it’s the ability to be in contact 24/7.”

“In previous generations, you had the telephone and if you were lucky, mum and dad let you make a call after you got home from school. But now, primary school children, not to mention adolescents, have mobiles, which means they are constantly in touch via text messages and Facebook.”

Dr Cross said children used networking sites to determine their identity and form a view of what society thought of them.

Clinical psychologist at The Children’s Psychology Clinic, Dr Elizabeth Seeley-Wait, said she was seeing kids suffering anxiety about “being out of touch or out of the loop” if they had their mobile phone taken away.

Adults are also falling victim to insecurities.

Equilibrium Psychology’s Gemma Cribb said Facebook came up in couples’ therapy. “Someone will check their partner’s Facebook and questions will come up such as ‘Where did you meet this friend?’ ” she said.

Whilst I am very weary of children having a Facebook page, especially under the age of 13, I think it’s important to note that the bullying itself is more important than the medium.  Whilst mediums change, what doesn’t seem to change are the bullies.

What is being done about it?

Sure school’s will give you their standard assortment of “P” words, like ‘policies’, ‘programs’ and ‘procedures’, to reassure you that they are taking decisive action, but these provisions are just there to avoid lawsuits.  The effect of policies and programs are minimal at best, and if there really was stringent consequences handed out, would there be such a huge problem?

Here’s some “P” words of my own – we need a more solid partnership between Principals, Parents and Practitioners.  We need schools to be as concerned about their culture and as passionate about the safety of their students as they are about their numbers, finances and academic reputation.  We need parents to be aware of how their children treat others and raise them to respect others rather than undermine, bully or belittle them.  And we need teachers to continue to fight for their students.

We have a choice, we can blame it all on the juggernaut that is Facebook, or we can fight bullying at its source whilst standing up for the rights of those who are victimised and powerless.

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