Cyber Bullying: What to Look for and How to Stop It | Corona, CA

March 23, 2022 | Beau Yarbrough, Los Angeles Daily News

Most students report having been cyber bullied, but some schools have been able to reduce incidents by hiring additional counselors and creating online portals to report bullying and putting links to them everywhere.

(TNS) — Today’s kids face bullying and other dangers in two worlds, one online and the other offline.

“Parenting is parenting and digital spaces are just another place that kids hang out,” said Stephanie M. Reich, professor of education at UC Irvine.

A new Southern California News Group analysis shows that 33.5 percent of California secondary students reported being bullied or harassed in the past 12 months in an anonymous survey distributed in three-quarters of California school districts.

But the same kind of practical advice parents give their children before heading to school or a friend’s house can also protect them from cyber bullying online.

“When your kid is little and they want to go to the park, you don’t just open the door and say ‘There you go,’” Reich said.

According to a survey conducted between May and June 2021 by the Cyberbullying Research Center, 23.2 percent of children in America had been cyber bullied, with the highest numbers experienced by 15 year olds, 27.7 percent of whom had said they’d been bullied.

Cyber bullying can take many forms, from messages or social media posts intended to upset the target, online gossip, recording and posting offline bullying online, or impersonating bullying victims or creating doctored images to defame them.

In a 2018 Pew Research Center survey, 59 percent of teens surveyed said they’d experienced cyber bullying at some point.

“People always think about it as this dark shadowy thing that nobody is aware of that’s somehow different than what bullying is like,” Reich said. “But cyber bullying is a lot like in-person bullying.”

The consequences of cyber bullying, however, can be more severe than offline bullying, according to the National Institutes of Health. Cyber bullying victims are more likely to suffer from depression than those who are bullied in other ways, for example.

There are school districts in California that have much lower reported rates of bullying — some as low as one-third the statewide average. The rates are typically a result of improving school mental health climates, hiring additional counselors and implementing more robust anti-bullying policies and procedures.

More and more, school districts are taking what happens online as seriously as what happens on campus, according to Loretta Whitson, executive director of California Association of School Counselors.

“I can tell you that, many times, kids were pretty upset about being suspended when they (bullied) online, when they were at home,” she said. “But it disrupted education, and that was the rule.”

Districts with low rates of reported bullying often create online portals to report bullying and put links to them everywhere, including on students’ Chromebooks or other district-issued devices, by posting QR codes around campus and placing links on district and school websites. They also sometimes monitor how students use district devices and Internet use, flagging signs of bullying.

Jurupa Unified in Riverside County has both widespread links to the district’s bullying reporting line and uses software to flag when students visit inappropriate websites, including those dealing with drug use or self-harm.

The reporting tools have been getting a workout in the past two years.

“Since the pandemic, even during the virtual year, the actionable reports that have been put in have greatly increased,” said Monty Owens, the district’s director of educational equity.

The biggest way the districts combat cyber bullying, though, is the same way they combat it offline: By changing the school and district culture.

“One of the key characteristics of schoolyard bullying is that there’s a bunch of bystanders standing by, watching, not doing anything,” Reich said. “It’s the same in digital spaces. We want to train kids to intervene.”

That training is taking place in school districts with lower bullying rates. But Reich says there’s more work to do off school grounds to combat bullying.

“It’s really about a community that doesn’t tolerate it on the playground and they don’t tolerate it in digital spaces,” she said.

To get ahead of the issue, Reich said children should learn empathy to help prevent cyber bullying.

“If you’re empathetic, you’re not going to hurt others online and you’re less likely to tolerate it happening to other people online,” she said.

And that includes empathy for the bullies, too.

“Cyber bullies are often cyber-victims themselves,” she said.

Plus, she said, “they often have households that are not great. They have very neglectful parents or very laissez faire ones. They’re usually bullies because they’re trying to assert control.”

Reich believes parents should teach their children to be aware of the possible dangers online and how to avoid them, as well as develop trust with children so they are willing to share about things that concern or upset them.

“If you cultivate a high quality relationship with your child, you can have those conversations with them, whether it’s about digital spaces or offline,” Reich said.

With her own children, she gave her kids access to digital devices and the Internet gradually, based on their developmental stage. And just like talking about the hazards one could encounter on the way to the park, she spoke to her children about how algorithms for various social platforms shove engaging content at users without any concern about whether it’s healthy or accurate.

“We’re just trying to cultivate our kids being conscious and aware when they’re using devices,” she said.

And for parents looking for specific practical advice, the Boy Scouts — who have an online safety training course for scouts as young as first grade — have some tips:

Common types of cyber bullying

  • Flaming, trolling or trash talking by sending or posting hostile messages intended to upset others
  • Recording someone being harassed or bullied, then posting the video online for public viewing
  • Identify theft or impersonation
  • Doctored images
  • Physical threats
  • Spreading rumors or public shaming

Signs a child may be a victim of cyber bullying

  • Avoids computer, cell phone and other devices
  • Appears stressed when receiving an email, instant message or text message
  • Withdraws from family and friends
  • Reluctant to attend school or social events
  • Avoids conversations about their computer use
  • Exhibits signs of low self-esteem, including depression or fear
  • Has declining grades
  • Has poor eating or sleeping habits
  • Acts secretive when online

What to do if your child is being cyber bullied

  • Encourage your child not to respond to the bully
  • Do not erase the messages or pictures, and take screenshots and save them as evidence
  • Try to identify the individual doing the cyber bullying, even if the cyber bully is anonymous
  • If the cyber/gaming bullying is criminal — such as threats of violence, extortion, obscene or harassing phone calls or text messages, stalking, hate crimes or child pornography — contact the police

This story is part of a 2021 Data Fellowship with the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism.

If you would like to learn more about random acts of kindness, contact Simple Acts of Care and Kindness at 866-459-7225 or visit www.simpleacts.org for additional information.

It’s Time the World Stands Up to Bullying | Corona, CA

When it comes to bullying, there isn’t just the bullied that is affected. Of course, the victim hurt on many different levels. But the bully is also affected – after all, hurt people hurt people. Even those that are a witness to said bullying are affected. No one likes to see someone hurting. Therefore, it is so important that we combat bullying any way we can.

In the United States alone, 20 percent of children between the ages of 12 and 18 say they have experienced some type of bullying. That is a heartbreaking statistic. But if you think of it on a global scale, one-third of the world’s youth are bullied. Those who did the bullying had more social influence, more money, or were physically stronger than the person they bullied. You see, they have this idea that they’re “better” than you. And unfortunately, it can happen at any point in time. The bullying will take place in a school cafeteria, hallway, classroom, school grounds, or bathroom. Some bullies also use texting and online platforms to target their victims.

But there is hope… In 2008, Canada celebrated the first International Stand Up to Bullying Day. It started in February, but it is celebrated twice a year. And today is that day. Schools around the world are celebrating this anti-bullying tour de force by wearing a pink shirt to spread awareness of this very important cause. Because this can’t be done by one student alone – we all need to stand up to bullying if it’s ever going to stop.

So, wear that pink shirt with pride and put your foot down against bullying.

If you would like to learn more about random acts of kindness, contact Simple Acts of Care and Kindness at 866-459-7225 or visit www.simpleacts.org for additional information.

How to Avoid the Haters | Corona, CA

We’ve all heard the term before, especially online. “Hater” is a new word used to describe a bully. They use hurtful and negative comments to not only bring someone down but make themselves feel better about themselves. It can be online, in your personal life or affecting something or someone you love. If online, they are often anonymous. Keyboard warriors, if you will. But a bully can be virtually anyone. Like bullying, hater behavior is something that a person does – it is not who they are, and it can be changed.

But why do they do it? Haters often pick on people whom they perceive as being different from themselves. When inflicting these hurtful words, they understand that they are upsetting, can trigger feelings of anger, hurt, and confusion, and cause the person being criticized to question their self-worth and behavior.

Because it is often experienced online, it can be difficult to deal with a hater. Social media platforms are trying to monitor this, but it is almost an impossible task. In fact, there are a few ways you can avoid the haters in your everyday life. But there are some tips to consider if you’ve found you have a hater on your hands:

  • Ignore it and walk away without reacting or responding.
  • Block anyone online who are making negative or hateful comments on your posts or account, take screenshots and report them.
  • Be kind and respectful – killing them with kindness is a great way to not let it affect you emotionally.
  • Stick with supporters because there is strength in numbers.
  • Remind yourself that comments from a hater are a reflection of them, not you.
  • Understand criticism can be a sign of pain.
  • Acknowledge your feelings.
  • Keep being you.

If you would like to learn more about bullying prevention tips, contact Simple Acts of Care and Kindness at 866-459-7225 or visit www.simpleacts.org for additional information.

When It Comes to Bullying of LGBTQ Teens Local Politics Matters | Corona, CA

By Cara Murez, HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, July 22, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Youth who identify as LGBTQ+ suffer more bullying at their schools when they live in areas with politically conservative voting records, a new study finds.

School boards should do more to implement policies that go beyond minimum protections for LGBTQ+ youth, regardless of political affiliation, the researchers suggested.

“To my knowledge, nobody has really looked at this connection between a school district’s political attitudes and the experiences of LGBTQ+ students in schools,” said study co-author Paul Kwon, a professor of psychology at Washington State University. “This project highlights an inequity that is not talked about a lot and shows the need for more explicit and inclusive anti-bullying legislation and policies that help mitigate the risks to LGBTQ+ youth, regardless of district political attitudes.”

The study examined school district voting records in the 2016 presidential election, as well as bullying experiences in schools and mental health outcomes of LGBTQ+ students in Washington state using the 2018 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey. The survey included 50,000 students in grades eight to 12, asking about sexual and gender identity, bullying and whether or not teachers intervened during instances of bullying. About 20% of the students included in the survey identified as being LGBTQ+.

Researchers found that LGBTQ+ students are at a higher risk for psychological distress and suicidal thoughts as a result of bullying, particularly in school districts that voted for former President Donald Trump in the 2016 election. These students also reported their teachers were less likely to intervene in instances of bullying than students who responded from more liberal voting districts. The study only found an association between political leanings, bullying and teacher intervention; it wasn’t designed to prove a cause-and-effect link.

In areas where teachers intervened almost always, instances of bullying for LGBTQ+ students matched their non-LGBTQ+ peers, whereas without intervention the LGBTQ+ students reported more bullying.

“This was especially prevalent in more conservative school districts where LGBTQ+ youth report less teacher intervention despite experiencing more bullying,” Kwon said in a university news release. “Over 35% of youth in our study are students in a conservative-leaning school district, possibly placing them at greater risk for more bullying experiences and higher psychological distress.”

The researchers suggested school policy should include explicit parameters for training and education for teachers regarding LGBTQ+ bullying, as well as steps for teachers and administrators to intervene following LGBTQ+ bullying experiences. All school websites should explicitly describe anti-bullying policies as they relate to LGBTQ+ youth using specific examples, the authors said.

“We also recommend educators discuss anti-bullying policy with students and families at the start of each school year, while concurrently highlighting LGBTQ+ identities, particularly in conservative districts,” Kwon said. “After all, students have little choice in the school they attend, almost no choice in the school district they belong to and are unable to vote until they are 18. Thus, they are subjected to the environment of the school and broader culture of the school district chosen for them.”

The findings were published recently in the journal Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy.

The Trevor Lifeline provides LGBTQ+ individuals with crisis intervention and suicide prevention help.

SOURCE: Washington State University, news release, July 19, 2021

If you would like to learn more about anti-bullying efforts, contact Simple Acts of Care and Kindness at 866-459-7225 or visit www.simpleacts.org for additional information.

Anti-Bullying Event to Host Special Guests, Celebrities | Corona, CA

By Susan Canfora | Staff Reporter

Bodyguard Bubba Almony offers tips to students at the R.J. Martial Arts’ School of the Elites summer camp in Selbyville, teaching them the skills he said can help them avoid being bullied.

A message against bullying, and assurance that help is available, will be the focus of a regional event planned for Saturday, Aug. 28, at the Worcester County (Md.) Recreational Center in Snow Hill, Md.

Organized by local bodyguard Bubba Almony, it will feature speakers including Khalilah Ali, widow of boxing champion Muhammad Ali and mother of four of his children. She herself has a third-degree black belt in karate, earned a ninth-degree black belt, has appeared on the cover of Ebony magazine seven times and appeared in the movie “The China Syndrome.’

Former Baltimore Ravens football player Jacoby Jones will be there, as well as Al “Hondo” Handy, former head of recreation and parks in Ocean City, Md., who was named the Ocean City Citizen of the Year in 2015 and who will talk about sportsmanship.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford have been invited, and the mayors of both Pocomoke City, Md., and Snow Hill will attend, with Jennifer Jewell, mayor of Snow Hill, presenting a proclamation designating Aug. 28 as Bubba Almony Day.

“I am a big advocate of anti-bullying,” Almony said. “Bullying is prevalent all across the nation. I see it when I travel as a bodyguard. It’s in prisons, in the military. There is police brutality. It is happening everywhere.

Bullying is something we can’t tackle alone,” he added. “We need everybody’s help. Our goal at this event is to bring an anti-bullying message to the community. We will also talk about good, positive community policing. We will have dignitaries from the fire departments there, from the police departments.

“We want everybody to come and be heard, be seen and know people care about you and what you are going through. Our speakers will give encouragement to youth and talk about why this event is so important. They will talk about themselves. Dr. Ali will talk about her experiences growing up with bullying, why it’s important to have faith and never give up,” he said.

Vendors will provide information about how people can find help if they are bullied, as well as for mental-health concerns. The Recreation Center’s concession stand will be open, and the Mister Softee truck will be on the grounds.

Adriano ‘Bubba’ Almony, a part-time resident of Ocean View, is a professional body guard. He was named LV Magazine’s Humanitarian of the Year and this summer is teaching local kids how to avoid being bullied.

Following what Almony called “an outdoor fanfest” at noon, to give those attending the opportunity to meet the guests, doors will open at 3:30 p.m., and a celebrity basketball game will take place at 5 p.m.

Admission for the event costs $20, or $40 for a VIP ticket that allows ticketholders to sit near the basketball players and take photographs with them. See www.bubbaalmony.com for more information.

The winning basketball team will receive a trophy, and proceeds from the event will benefit organizations that work to improve mental health and to fight cancer and bullying. Almony said he hopes to raise as much as $50,000 and expects 2,000 people to attend from Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

Other guests will include former NFL offensive tackle Vinston Painter; 12-year-old Samaya Clark-Gabriel, an athlete and actress, and the only child to perform with the Harlem Globetrotters; Jonte Hall, the shortest Harlem Globetrotter, at 5 feet, 2 inches tall. The guest list also includes 14-year-old Demarjay Smith, known as “the Young Jamaican Trainer,” who, at age 8, made a video and gave a motivational speech about being healthy and fit, causing it to go viral and getting him an invitation to be a guest on the “Ellen” TV show; and officer Tommy Norman, who has worked for the North Little Rock, Ark., police department since 1998 and received national attention for charitable actions toward youth.

Almony said he’s hoping to see the U.S. Army National Guard land a Black Hawk helicopter at the event.

Sherman, the Delmarva Shorebirds mascot, will be there, as well as Salisbury University cheerleaders and a Salisbury Zoo reptile display.

To protect against transmission of the coronavirus, masks will be recommended indoors and everyone’s temperature will be taken at the door. Hand sanitizer will be available, and the facility will the cleaned throughout the day.

“Bringing all these people together, we want to show those who have been bullied or have other issues that there are others that care about them, that love them, that want to treat the issues they are having as their own. We are ready to help them in their battles, to share our examples and experiences,” Almony said.

“If people come to this event, they could get skills that could save their lives and make their community more tightly knit.”

If you would like to learn more about anti-bullying efforts, contact Simple Acts of Care and Kindness at 866-459-7225 or visit www.simpleacts.org for additional information.

Family Dynamics: Sibling Rivalry | Corona, CA

Unless you are an only child, you have to deal with siblings. They could be the same sex, they could be opposite, you could have a mixture of both. But no matter what the equation, siblings enrich a family’s dynamic in some of the best ways. It also spurs a little something we call sibling rivalry.

Let’s be honest – even the closest of sibling will fight. It’s gone on since the beginning of time and will likely never stop. Friendly competition is a good thing. Challenging each other helps us grow. But there is a difference between sibling rivalry, and bullying.

But ordinary skirmishes over the remote or a certain toy are one thing. But constant physical and verbal abuse is another. A study involving children and adolescents around the country found that those who were attacked, threatened or intimidated by a sibling had increased levels of depression, anger and anxiety. And now that we are all stuck together in a house due to COVID-19, it is important to analyze these behaviors and make changes as soon as possible.

Normal rivalries with siblings can encourage healthy competition but when the line between healthy relations and abuse is crossed it is cause for alarm. When one child is consistently the victim of another and the aggression is intended to cause harm and humiliation, it is then to be considered a serious situation.

Overall, a third of the children in the study reported being victimized by a sibling, and their scores were higher on measures of anxiety, depression and anger. During this time, let’s take a moment to enjoy our time together and make improvements to solidify your family bonds.

If you would like to learn more about sibling rivalry, contact Simple Acts of Care and Kindness at 866-459-7225 or visit www.simpleacts.org for additional information.

Compassion Is Vital | Corona, CA

As much as we hate to admit it, summer is passing by so quickly. Soon the kids will be back at school and all the business of autumn is with us. Back to early mornings and after-school routines will be in full force, so many of us begin to adjust our schedules accordingly before the end of summer. This way, the transition is a bit easier once these school days are upon us. While we are preparing for waking up earlier and growing a bit smarter in the upcoming year, make sure that you also address the attitudes that will begin the year as well.

There’s no denying the fact that bullying is running rampant throughout our world. But it doesn’t need to trickle into our little human’s mind. They need to begin their next school year excited and ready to learn.

So, this school year we would like to encourage you to help your children become sensitive to the feelings that they see in their classmates, friends and family. Your sensitivity will be a big part of their developing it within themselves. If you are already helping a friend or family member as they are dealing with a problem, let them see what you are doing. It could be as simple as their knowing that you have been sitting with that friend or family member. When they begin to understand that you will always be there for them, perhaps not having to solve the problem, but just letting that person know they are cared for, your child will be on a great journey to compassion and caring that will serve them all their lives. Be that great example for your children at home.

If you would like to learn more about bullying prevention, contact Simple Acts of Care and Kindness at 866-459-7225 or visit www.simpleacts.org for additional information.

Rise like a Phoenix | Corona, CA

When we are bullied as kids, it often feels like it’ll never end – that we will always be bullied, no matter what we do. Fortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Believe it or not, but there are many celebrities that have not only had bullies growing up but grew into fantastic adults. And while we may never rid the world of bullying, it is important to let our children know it isn’t the end of the world. Time heals all wounds – even ones caused by bullying. Still unsure? Take a look at some of our greatest bullied celebrities.

Elon Musk. Closer to being a real-life Iron Man than Robert Downey Jr., Elon was severely bullied, and was once hospitalized when a group of boys threw him down a flight of stairs, and then beat him until he blacked out. Musk is now a multi-billionaire and plans to colonize Mars by 2040.

Kate Middleton. A story similar to a Disney tale, the Duchess only lasted two terms at Downe House boarding school because fellow students tormented her. She now supports anti-bullying charities with her husband, Prince William.

Michael Phelps. The most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael was bullied about his lisp and his big ears. He told Yahoo Sports; “I kind of laugh at it now. I think it made me stronger going through that.”

Tony Hawk. When Tony Hawk was in high school, being into skateboarding was the equivalent of being into ultimate Frisbee today. In an interview, Hawk said; “[The bullying] gave me the fire to push it even further. I liked that it set me apart and I didn’t care what they thought.”

If you would like to learn more about bullying prevention, contact Simple Acts of Care and Kindness at 866-459-7225 or visit www.simpleacts.org for additional information.

What You Can Do to Stop Bullying | Corona, CA

bullying

Bullying is a terrible thing to witness. Not only is it mean, but the victim of the bullying is hurt. When you do nothing, you send the message that bullying is acceptable. If you ignore or minimize the problem, victims will not believe that adults understand or care, or that they can help. And if you don’t intervene, their peers won’t either. So, when you see someone being bullied, take a moment to step in and help stop it. Not sure how to do it? Here are some simple ways to make a difference:

Intervene immediately. Stand between or near the victim and the bully, separating them if necessary, so as to stop the bullying behaviors. For young children, consider removing them from the situation to a “time-out” area or room. Remain calm but convey the seriousness of the situation. Announce that the bullying must stop. Describe the behavior you observed and why it is unacceptable.

Get help if needed. If the bully is using physical force, or there is more than one bully, you may need to find another adult to help keep children safe and protect yourself.

Don’t impose immediate consequences. Make sure you gather all the information before deciding the best course of disciplinary action and refrain from punishing the bully in front of peers.

Don’t ask children to “work things out” for themselves.  Bullying is different from an argument or conflict – it involves a power imbalance that requires adult intervention.

Give praise and show appreciation to helpful bystanders.  Children who try to help the victim or stop the bully are key to bullying prevention.

Stick around. Remain in the area until you are sure the behavior has stopped.

If you would like to learn more about bullying prevention, contact Simple Acts of Care and Kindness at 866-459-7225 or visit www.simpleacts.org for additional information.

Students at Risk for Bullying | Corona, CA

There’s no doubt that bullying has become a problematic epidemic in the United States, but just how much of a problem has it become? Whether it be cyber bullying or bullying in real life, just about everyone has experienced some degree of bullying throughout their lifetime. Though some children and teens experience bullying at high rates and with more persistence than others, just about every child around the country is mostly likely going to have some type of connection to bullying.

Sadly, children and teens that are considered different than others are the most frequent targets of bullies. Youth with disabilities; gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students; students that are overweight; and students that are perceived as weak or insecure are the most likely targets of bullies. However, even if a child does have these risk factors, it doesn’t mean they will get bullied.

The problem really stems from the fact that many bullied students will not speak up when it happens, for fear of retaliation, not being believed, etc. And sadly, we continue to hear how this bullying is affecting the students directly – at times having an incredibly tragic end. We, as adults, need to be able to make our children feel comfortable with speaking up without feeling scared to do so.

In addition, parents and teachers that are in close contact with children on the school’s campus need to help put bullying to an end. It takes a village to raise a child – we all need to come together to support and accept one another to help reduces these alarming statistics as a community.

If you would like to learn more about bullying, contact Simple Acts of Care and Kindness at 866-459-7225 or visit www.simpleacts.org for additional information.