By Bruce Boyer
Today’s teenagers face different challenges than their parents. While their parents may have endured physical meanness in face-to-face confrontations, the altercation stopped at the victim’s front door. Today’s social media makes it possible for harassment to invade the home 24/7. With just a few keystrokes on a computer, tablet or cell phone, the harassment, humiliation and degradation robs victims of their privacy and self-worth. Social media invites others to join the party, giving strangers and acquaintances access to personal content online and through messaging apps. And what is being said about a person may even be edited videos with no truth at all. What is posted about a person becomes a permanent record unless it is reported and removed. Parents are not likely to spot content unless they are on the same social media platforms of their children. Cyberbullying gives someone the power and opportunity to ruin a life anonymously. It contributes to the isolation, anxiety, and depression of teenagers and young adults. It is a potentially deadly mental health issue for those who are targeted.
Covid-19 has only accelerated the problem of cyber-abuse, by providing a bully-ripe environment of isolation, anxiety, and increased time on screens. Most often driven by pain, bullies are searching for that jolt of power when putting someone else down. So, how can we protect our children and community?
CareNet Counseling Center of Kernersville is offering a free seminar to help youth and their parents. The free seminar will be held at Kernersville’s Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden, 215 South Main Street, Kernersville. The seminar date is Sunday, January 22, from 4-6 PM. The seminar is designed for teens age 13 and older, parents, community leaders, religious leaders, educators, business leaders, counselors, and people who interact with teens. We are hopeful that parents will attend so they would better understand the risk that cyberbullying has for the mental health of their children.
The seminar features a 56-minute film, The Upstanders, with interviews of kids and families, including those who have lost loved ones to peer-pressure induced suicide. The seminar will also include helpful information from Stanford University and Child Mind Institute experts, as well as local mental health experts, and counselors who work with teens. The film and discussion explore the science behind cyberbullying, signs to watch for, why kids are afraid to admit they are being bullied, and strategies a community can use to counteract cyberbullying. It also gives signs for parents to detect if their own children are engaged in cyberbullying.
To watch a trailer about The Upstanders, type in your browser, the upstanders trailer. After watching this video, you will want to attend the free seminar.
Pre-registration is requested so that organizers can have adequate materials and snack food for all those in attendance. Pre-register by visiting: bit.ly/Bullyingevent01-22-23.
This seminar is part of a series of free annual community seminars on mental health issues that threaten our local community and citizens. CareNet Counseling of Kernersville is a counseling center sponsored by Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, with a Kernersville center at Main Street United Methodist Church. For additional seminar information, contact Barbara Saulpaugh at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 336-716-0854.