I've been reading the news reports and postings about the cyberbullying suicide case. For example, "No Charges in Cyberbullying Suicide Case," and "L.A. Grand Jury Investigates Web Suicide Case" and "Prosecutor Will Review Megan Meier Cyberbullying Case," and "Mom: MySpace Hoax Led to Daughter's Suicide," and "Cyberbullying Suicide Stokes the Internet Fury Machine," and "Prosecutor won't bring charges in MySpace suicide." That's the case in which Megan Meier, a teenage girl, was pushed toward committing suicide by Lori Drew, the mother of a former friend of Megan's. Lori Drew, pretending to be a 16 year-old boy on MySpace, engaged Megan and exacted her revenge by dumping Megan.
To the parents of children and teens, I'd like to comment about only one aspect of this tragic situation.
We should be aware that this use of social networking sites and the internet will become more prevalent. Predators and bullies, and hurt, angry, righteous and spiteful adults and teenagers have always used whatever methods they could in order to attack and take revenge on their targets. Teens and adults will subject other teens to emotional abuse, verbal abuse and now cyberbullying, manipulation and intimidation. They stimulate the insecurity and low self-esteem of their victims. The ability to remain anonymous on the internet increases the likelihood that cowards, bullies and predators will use the web to strike at their targets and victims.
The world has been, is and always will be a place with potential danger. Life is full of risks. As much as we will discuss, argue and make legislation in order to protect our children and teens, the dangers and risks will remain. That doesn't excuse Lori Drew. That's just the way I think the world is and we must take that into account as we raise our children.
Do not teach your children that the world is a safe place. Good parenting requires you to teach your children how to balance the risks, stakes, benefits and dangers of every activity. You must teach your children to judge wisely which activities (which dark alleys, parties, friends and events) seem safe and which have huge risks attached. You must do that in order to help them increased their independence, self-reliance, confidence and self-esteem. And you must monitor them. And, if your children and teens are like mine, you must also be prepared for them to do what they please. But you're planting good seeds.
There have always been and will always be predators and bullies. Prepare yourself and your children. Of course, there also have been, are and always will be wonderful people who are worth knowing and who will stand by you in times of tragedy. Find them and fill your life with them.
As Rabindranath Tagore said, "Create an isle of song in a sea of shouts."
I hope these parenting tips, taken from my coaching and speaking, help. What do you think?