Coach Daniel Faggella is a National Martial Arts Champion, a Southern Rhode Island Native, and the owner of Black Diamond Kids Martial Arts in Wakefield. His graduate studies at UPENN focused on the psychology skill and confidence development.
In this digital age, the channels of "bullying" have indeed gotten wider. I'm skeptical to say that children (or people) have become more malicious thanks to technology - but it's undoubtedly the case that there are more ways to express themselves.
In this article, I'll set out to go over the 3-Phase "Model" for cyber-bullying prevention that I recommend to parents.
The Cyber-Bullying Pest
As a martial arts teacher and a youth speaker (recently doing a presentation at Curtis Corner Middle School about stopping bullying), I get to hear a lot of stories from children about their experience - but often I hear even MORE from the parents.
"They just keep nagging him on Facebook and he can't stop talking about it." "Every time she gets a text message now her heart is racing." "They're nice to him in class, but online he never hears the end of it."
Phase I: Ignoring.
In a great number of instances, a first instance of cyber-bullying isn't much other than a one-off comment. Sometimes it had to do with something in a school class, or some other outside activity that spurred a bit of a "teasing" comment online or via text message.
Even when relatively mean-spirited, it's not typical for one-off comments to turn into consistent bullying, especially when the comment gets no response. As a parent, this involves instilling a kind of "sticks and stones" attitude to one-off comments like this - which will end up deterring further comments.
Phase II: Addressing Bullying Directly.
If comments and teasing online activity become a norm from a single source, even when not provoked by replies, it's often a best next step to address the bully and be open about the topic.
As a parent, this might involve having your child address their bully personally, or it might involve you contacting the parent of the bully.
This first contact - even if the other child has been seemingly mean - should be open and calm. Letting the parent or bully know that you're noticing a trend, and that although you don't suspect the bully was acting maliciously on purpose, it's best to stop. Some children aren't aware of the severity of their comments, and few children have malice at heart.
Pointing out the seriousness of the issue in a non-blaming way (either to parent or child) is a shorter route to stopping the activity than pointing an angry finger right away.
Phase III: Reporting.
When a calm and direct approach doesn't work, rarely is adding fuel to the fire by blaming and counterattacking going to be a worthwhile response. At this point, take it to the higher authority, whether it’s a sports coach or a classroom teacher.
Ask that the coach or teacher address the bully or parent directly - and inform them as to what has been going on, and whether the issue has persisted.
I hope that these few helpful strategies will come in handy for you as well, and feel free to reach out with your own situations and challenges with bullying - I'm happy to help!
- Coach Daniel Faggella
For more from Daniel, stay tuned to Rhode Island Patch - your home for what is LOCAL. If you're interested in learning more about Daniel's kids martial arts program here in Rhode Island, you can be in touch at 401-218-0203.