We were featured on Channel 2 News KATU Portland, OR, check out the video and article below:
By Shellie Bailey-Shah, KATU Problem Solver Published: Feb 20, 2012 at 11:00 PM PST Last Updated: Feb 20, 2012 at 11:43 PM PST
PORTLAND, Ore. – “It torments her,” says the mother. “It still torments her to this day.”
The KATU Problem Solvers interviewed a Portland-area mother about her daughter’s experience with cyberbullying. Because the daughter still fears the tormenters, we agreed to not release the mother or daughter’s names.
“Her grades went from A’s and B’s down to F’s. She wasn’t sleeping at night. She quit eating,” says the mother.
The mother had no idea what caused the change in her daughter’s behavior until her daughter finally confessed that her best friend had turned into a cyberbully, texting and posting lies about the daughter’s drug use, sexual activity and sexual preference online.
And the girls were only 12 years old.
“Everybody at that school goes on that web page,” explains the mother, “and my daughter’s name was out there.”
It got so bad, the daughter switched schools. But nine months later, she suffered a relapse in confidence.
“Boom, it happened again,” says the mother. “I gave her back her Facebook account, and the bullying started again.”
“The bullies are coming into your home, and it’s 24/7,” explains Alison Rhodes, who runs a website called safetymom.com.
She says there are online tools for time-pressed parents, like truecare.com and mymobilewatchdog.com.
For around $10 per month, these services will monitor your child’s texts, emails, and Facebook pages for key words related to drug use, sexual activity and cyberbullying and then send you alerts.
Or you can do it for yourself, but you need to be vigilant and honest.
“You need to tell them, look, I’m looking in on you. I’m trying to keep you safe,” says Rhodes. “Keep these things in mind, but I am watching.”
Vanessa Van Petten runs radicalparenting.com, a website that offers advice to parents, written by kids.
“A lot of teenagers say they actually appreciate when their parents are the scapegoats,” explains Van Petten. “Like when someone sends them a message about someone else, and they say, you know what? I can’t talk about this. My mom reads my IMs (instant messages).”
To be sure, the mom who spoke with the Problem Solvers now reads all her daughter’s texts, e-mails and online posts, but she admits a lot of damage has already been done.
“She should have friends, but she doesn’t,” says the mother. “She can’t trust in boys and she can’t trust in girls.”
“I wish that I would have done it (monitored my daughter’s accounts) as a parent,” she confesses. “If I would of, I wouldn’t be here today talking about cyberbullying.”
The Problem Solvers offer this advice to parents:
Stress to your kids not to share passwords. Many kids do share with their best friends or boyfriends/girlfriends.
Change passwords frequently.
Keep a current list of all your child’s passwords to all devices.
Check your kids’ accounts and phones daily.
If you find evidence of cyberbullying, make copies so you can address the issue with the bully’s parents or school.