Wednesday, December 21, 2016

One Year Later...A Post on the Effects of Cyber Bullying

Exactly one year ago today, our family experienced cyber bullying.

It was THE worst experience of my daughters life. The accusations, lies, malicious posts, many by people she thought were friends. One year later and she is still hesitant to talk about what happened. One year later and she still receives comments, posts, verbal slurs on a weekly basis.

Here's the worst thing about Cyber Bullying- it doesn't stay in cyberspace. It follows you around. It's as if you are wearing a huge sandwich board sign that is emblazoned in red ink with the words,
You don't know what really occurred, or even why I was "chosen" for this

There is no place to go to get away from the comments. The Internet is everywhere.
There is no place to feel safe and pull yourself together. The attacks are constant.

Silly me, as a mom, I thought it would let up. I thought that by the time Winter Break was over everything would be back to normal. Cyberspace would have moved on to someone new.

But that isn't what happened. It got worse. School started and it got worse. To the point where she couldn't go to school.
"You're such a whore."
"Why are you here?"
"You should just end it all."

Three weeks she was out of school. Could you face this everyday? As an adult, could you stand to go into work with these horrible words being thrown at you daily? Hourly?

We looked at changing schools. Not our first choice, but nothing was happening at our home school to make it better. In fact, she started getting comments about her family. We are a biracial family, so you can imagine the comments. And they were the worst comments possible.

And the school did nothing. Really what can they do? If you give up the names of people saying things, then it gets even worse. WORSE! Can you even imagine how it would get worse? Her counselor worked and worked with her, but she wouldn't say a thing. The principal didn't think it was a big deal and wouldn't meet with us, the parents.

So, here we are. One very difficult year later. Lots of tears, counseling, prayers, and we've made it this far. I say this far, because it doesn't go away. The works linger in your ears. They become part of your being. You have to fight against them constantly. New friends replace old friends. Kind words start to replace hurtful words. A stronger person starts to emerge.

I would never wish this past year on anyone. It was horrible. Nasty. It made me angry with other parents (how could they let this happen?) their children (you were her friend) her school (no place is safe). It made me face fears a parent should never face, will my child take her life? will she recover? will she give in to the rumors? Will she start to believe what "they" are saying?

 I know how our story could have ended. I read about it everyday. I watch it on the news.
We are fortunate to have friends, pastors, teachers, counselors who gathered round us and our daughter. People who prayed and listened and encouraged her at every point during her long journey. Not everyone has this. Not everyone will emerge a stronger person.

Take a moment and think, what would your child do? How would your child deal with the constant bullying?
Now decide. Decide. What will you do? If your child is being attacked?
What will you do? If you child is the attacker?