Parents urged to talk to kids about cyber bullying

| 14/10/2014

(CNS): Cyber and on-line bullying will be one of the areas of focus this year as officials mark bullying awareness month throughout October. Local experts said there is more to bullying than just teasing and if not addressed appropriately it can have lasting negative effects on the bullies and the bullied. The Family Resource Centre will be offering sessions to students about being cyber brave: taking a stand against online and cyber bullying and Miriam Foster the FRC programme coordinator urged parents to use the month as an opportunity to talk with their children about bullying and their online experiences. She said cyber bullying doesn’t allow children a time of respite or safe space to call home.

It can range from sending mean messages or threats, spreading rumours, posting unflattering pictures to pretending to be someone else online. “It is very easy to disconnect virtually and forget that there is a human being on the other side of that screen, “ said Foster. Social media is meant to be about connection, not about disconnecting and causing harm to others. As parents we need to stress the importance of cyber etiquette and encourage our children to be cyber brave and stand up to others or report inappropriate conduct. We all have a part to play.”

Organized by the Family Resource Centre (FRC), the celebration aims to educate the public on how to protect children from the effects of bullying, and to unite communities. With this objective in mind a number of activities have been organised throughout the month.

The Take a Stand Conference takes place on Wednesday, 15 October 2014 from 5:30pm-8:30pm at the George Town Public Library. This is organised as part of the Library’s lecture series and the FRC’s family skills sessions. The event will include interactive presentations, hands-on activities and information for children, teens, parents and employers. LIME staff will also facilitate computer safety and cyber bullying prevention sessions. Refreshments will also be available. The event is free but registration is recommended. To register, interested persons are asked to contact the centre at 949-0006 or email frc@gov.ky

On Friday, 17 October, persons from various organizations, companies and schools are encouraged to wear pink STOOD UP t-shirts and take a visible, public stance against bullying by posting photos on their Facebook pages. Shirts are now available for sale. $10 for adults and $5 for children.

On Saturday, 18 October – Stand Up Day, the public is invited to participate in the Business and Professional Women’s Club (BPWC) Silent Witness March at 12:00 pm. The walk will begin from Government Administration Building and end at the Legislative Assembly. Participants are also asked to wear their pink STOOD Up t-shirts.

Organisations are welcome to walk with their club banners during the march. Although BPWC organizes this annual event for domestic violence, it is now being extended to victims of bullying since these relationships are parallel. Following this, speakers will share their personal stories on bullying.

There will also be a chance to paint tiles as part of the Peace Wall that FRC is hoping to erect by next year. A slogan was also developed during Peace Day this past September, Bullying: Just Kids Being Kids, Until It’s Your Kid! This slogan will be displayed at various locations throughout the districts.

Later in the month, US anti-bullying campaigners Kirk and Laura Smalley the founders of the organization Stand for the Silent will also be in Cayman to present educational sessions providing tools for children, parents, and educators to help prevent bullying.  The Smalleys will give two Be the Difference presentations per day from October 20 to October 24 at the Family Life Center on Walkers Road at 9am and 1pm. 

These free presentations are open to students, parents, educators, and concerned community members.

Stand for the Silent was started in 2010 by a group of students from Oklahoma State University after they heard the story of Kirk and Laura Smalley’s son, Ty Field-Smalley. At eleven years old, Ty took his own life after being bullied for over two years.    Kirk and Laura’s mission is to bring change to kids’ lives and bring awareness to bullying and the real devastation it causes. They have spoken with nearly one million children and have been invited to speak at numerous conferences on bullying.

Rooster 101 and Z99, are sponsoring the campaign and the Smalley’s visit, Jennifer Steele of Hurley’s Entertainment said it was wonderful to be able to bring such dynamic speakers with such a powerful message to the Cayman Islands. “The Smalley’s tragic story was really the genesis of Be the Difference Cayman.  I knew that bullying happened everywhere, and that fact was really brought home to Cayman with the story of Ezra McLaughlin who committed suicide as a result of being bullied,” said Steele.

John Gray High School has already reserved 400 spaces at the workshop and other public and private school administrators are encouraged to reserve space for their students. 

Reservations and more information about the events are available on 945-1166

Category: Local News

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