Pull the plug and stop the bullying

Limiting a child’s availability to bullies through social media would decimate the amount of viral videotaping.

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nside of four minutes  on the evening of October 27 a magnitude  7.7 earthquake dried up three Haida Gwaii hot springs that had been flowing forever leaving only warm  green mud.

If only parents could be as decisive as Mother Nature in taking action when their children are bullied.

Parents should divest their kids of cell phones and laptops to assure them of sanctuary in their own homes.

Experts of every stripe have identified cell phones and laptops as an avenue bullies use to torment others not only during school hours  but around the clock, while kids are at home in their own bedrooms.

Yet parents go on muttering somebody should do something about bullying when they could put an end to their kid’s harassment in one swift move.

If your kid has no access to a cell phone or laptop, his bully-tormentors have no access to him either.

What’s the worst that can happen if a parent takes away a kid’s phone and laptop? Will he scream, stomp, slam a few doors? Declare he hates you? Big deal. What parent hasn’t withstood all those insults before, when Mom or Dad said No?

Your kid won’t  be happy without the communication toys other kids have. How sad!

Why does the average kid carry a cell phone? To satisfy their helicopter parent who must know where they are at every minute? Unless a teen is holding down a job and needs to be available for shifts, or suffers a medical condition which might require an ambulance on short notice, no kid needs instant messaging. They can phone one friend at a time on  the family’s phone. If the  cell phone is a timepiece, buy the kid a plastic wristwatch not worth stealing. School age kids have few appointments to be on time for — every house has clocks to get them off to school  in time to catch their bus or arrive for class. Every classroom has a clock. When school lets out, they catch a bus home.

What does a kid get out of texting non-stop? Watch them sit side-by-side texting each other, when they could talk, for free. But kids today can’t carry on a face-to-face conversation, experts say. Little wonder. Learning to converse is a skill like any other  and improves with practise.

Maybe you believe kids need to carry a cell phone in case of some disaster such as Columbine. But how many Columbines have occurred in the past 20 years? Balance that against the number of kids who have committed suicide because they were cyber bullied beyond endurance.

Columbines are a rarity; suicides from bullying are becoming weekly events.

Granted, one take-charge Mom can’t cure cyber bullying, but she can limit bullies’ access to her own child. And  other  parents might follow her lead. Limiting a child’s availability to bullies through social media  would decimate the number of viral videotaping of bullying, fighting, and other assaultive behaviour that now go on while bystanders cheer.

Why are parents so timid here? When our kids are little, if a neighbour’s dog bites them we phone the dog catcher.

If our toddler meets an abusive tot in the playground, we build a sandbox in our backyard and invite only playmates who have been taught to play nice. We don’t wring our hands but let the abusive behaviour continue.

So why do parents fail to take decisive steps to deal with  cyber bullying?

I can accept a parent saying they didn’t know the bullying was taking place. Kids can be detrimentally secretive about their problems.

But once bullying has been identified as a problem,  if social media is a conduit for that bullying, pull the plug.

Don’t let  peer pressure from parents or kids hold you or your child hostage.