In light of recent headlines, it’s no surprise that the increase in bullying and cyber-bullying among kids has found its place among the biggest fears on the minds of most parents today. How times have changed! Remember when stranger danger was on everyone’s minds? I taught both of my boys never to talk to strangers, never to get in a stranger’s car – while all of that is still relevant, it seems there are greater dangers out there, right under our own fingertips.
I recognize the irony in this, as someone thrilled by the possibilities of technology who was involved in three internet start-ups, to have to come to terms with the dark underbelly of what technology has enabled us, and our children, to do to each other.
Because we are always concerned with the safety and happiness of our families, we wanted to know: how are parents responding in the wake of these bullying incidents? Last week, we took action: we sponsored a national survey of parents whose families had been affected by bullying. One of the most interesting findings from that study was the clear and present danger of the Facebook “friend.” Nearly one in three (30%) parents of children 12-17 years old, fear bullying and cyber bullying over kidnapping, domestic terrorism, car accidents, suicide or any other incident. And of parents whose children are under 12 years old, more than one in four (27%) parents say they are most afraid of bullying and cyber-bullying, with kidnapping ranked only slightly higher. Times have indeed changed: bullying and cyber-bullying have eclipsed kidnapping as the greatest fear parents have regarding their children’s safety.
The results from this survey also found that, in the wake of the recent headlines of teen suicides due to cyber-bullying and bullying, nearly ¾ of parents surveyed said they were now taking action and doing something differently with their parenting decisions, whether it was talking to their child more, monitoring their Facebook pages or other online activity, or paying closer attention to their child’s text messages.
The survey definitely sheds new light on the parental response to this tough situation. We like to think of our site as a great resource for all parents. Many of our articles and features on the site address real issues and hot topics for parents every day. For those parents facing bullying with their kids, there is a large amount of helpful content all over Care.com. You can find posts on Care.com Editor-in-Chief Wendy Sachs’ blog, articles by child psychologist Dr. Robi Ludwig, and even my own experience with cyberbullying here. There are so many resources, right here on our site, to help your families address this very difficult issue.
Parents: what’s your greatest fear? Leave a comment below.