GUEST COMMENTARY
When Words Are Used as Weapons
by Dr. Mary Vader, Montrose Pediatric Associates
May 12, 2011 | 928 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Words can lift us up, show us the way, or dump us into such a dark place that we often wonder if we will ever emerge.

Bullying. Specifically cyber bullying.

Children and adolescents use the Internet more than any other tool to communicate. They are more computer literate than any other generation. We all know if we’re stuck on the computer, just call the neighbor’s fourth grader to come help!

Social networking sites are the rage and close to 75 percent of adolescents report owning an SNS profile. They share photos, up to the nanosecond descriptions of locations, emotions, and activity. This is their opportunity for self-expression and identity development. They also can leave public comments on the content of their peers profiles and opinions about events.

Occasionally these opinions are intentionally and repeatedly sent to cause harm to someone else. This is cyber bullying. This includes threats, harassment, embarrassing others, or socially excluding another person. Since the material is available to anyone to be passed on, it is repetitive bullying. We’ve all heard: once in cyberspace, it is impossible to eliminate.

The victim is constantly vulnerable and may never feel “safe.” The bully is as close as your cell phone.

Our community was rocked to its soul when one of our own senior students took his own life. Could we as a community have saved this life with words of kindness and respect or a smile or handshake?

What kind of role model are we for our kids? Do we treat others as we would like to be treated? That concept can be understood at any age. Can we honor the life of this young man with a commitment of giving and teaching respect and tolerance of others? It might be a smile, a “high five” or words. Hug your kids today!
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