This is why your kids should be careful with sharing their personal photos

Earlier this year, something very tragic happened when Tovanna Holton, a 15-year old girl

took her own life, because some bullies shared a nude video of her through Snapchat. Not long before Holton passed away, she talked to her mother about the video and how one of her friends posted it on the social media. But when she died, it was revealed that her ex-boyfriend got hold of her nudes and took them to Twitter, where her friends and other kids started calling her names and made fun of her, after watching the video. It was just too much for Holton to take all those nasty comments.

We can’t bring Holton back, we wish we could, but there is an important lesson to learn from this tragic event so that other kids never go through what Holton did. This isn’t incident a rarity. There are hundreds of other cyberbullying cases that surface everyday and this doesn’t mean we should just quit working on doing something about it. There has to be a way to stop cyberbullying. These kinds of real life stories reiterate the significance of educating your kids about the do’s and don’ts of using a smartphone and the social media. There is nothing more appalling for kids than an internet-ready cell phone or a tablet in their hands

Kids are naïve, be they at the bullied or bullying side. Cyberbullying is prevalent in adults but it’s just a fraction of how much it happens in the young people. Kids can easily abuse other kids for sexual orientation, nude videos, shy personality, and so on.

So what can you do about protecting your kids from something like the aforementioned? What can you do to ensure that your child doesn’t have to go through any it. We can’t promise you that there is a foolproof plan, but there is a way, or in fact, ways to deal with this. So the first thing that you should do is to talk to your child about the impact of sharing inappropriate content online. Not just your kids can suffer from the bullying, but they can also be charged with underage sexual exploitation, aka child pornography. Yes, minors have been already been charged for child pornography.

There are three places where your child could possibly end up in a cyberbullying scenario. They could either be the bullies, or the bullied or the spectators. In the first case, they will never come up to you ever, even if they would be feeling the guilt of their actions, because of the possible negative and disciplinary reaction from your side. In the second case, your kids would want you to know about what they are going through, but they will be reluctant. Because they are so stressed, depressed that they lose their hold of the conscious. They may come forward, if they perceive you to be the parents who would understand their situation. This trust building is something that requires years of efforts. You can’t just do that overnight.

If you haven’t yet understood the implied, we want you to communicate with your kids, and by that, we mean open communication. As aforementioned, you can’t just go to them and be all cheerful and positive parent. You build your reputation in front of your child, as they notice each and every move of yours. So start early, and start trying with talking to your kids about every kind of difficult situation. For example, it would be great if you would start talking to your kids about alcohol or drugs abuse, or the risks of using a cell phone or tablet, before they even get to that age. This way, they would know exactly when and how to say no..

The same would go for the online abuse. Let’s face it that parents never even imagine their kids being guilty, except for a few realistic ones, or ones who don’t trust their kids with anything at all. Don’t be an irresponsible parent, because this is your kid on the dangerous end, and it’s not time the time to stereotype or generalise. So be a good parent and start with all those necessary conversations that we have talked about above.

And beyond imagining and talking about all of these potential situations, there is something even more important, i.e. your reaction. You child should know that your aren’t the one who will be rejecting them, or stop loving them, just because they made a mistake. If your child makes any grievous mistake of shaming others, punish them, but do accordingly, only to make them realise that it mattered to you, their perverse treatment of others. This is something that you need to show to them, rather proving it, because after all, “actions speak louder than words”.

It’s also possible that your child may need some outside help, when your support and communication won’t be enough. This is when you would need to seek help. Following are a few options:

  1. Inform your child about the victim or crisis hotline

There are many hotlines that your child can call to seek help from anonymous people.

  1. Take them to a therapist

Many parents don’t take their kids to dentists unless their kids complaint about toothache or oral health issues. Just like your kids and you need regular visit to a dentist to ensure that your family has a healthy oral hygiene, you need to think of a therapy in the same way, something that’s essential for the mental health of your family. Your family, including you, need it, but not just when you are through a crisis. Regular visits will allow you to identify the early symptoms of any mental diseases that your child maybe going through. Also, ensure that you are also seeing a therapist regularly, because your mental health is just equally important as their’s.

  1. Seek out mentors or advocates

There are many people who have successfully treaded through the victimisation phase and they can be really great mentors for your kids.

  1. Report to the authorities

Not everything is reportable, but it’s necessary to talk to police to take any guidance that you may get.

  1. Resort to legal counsel

If your child finds themselves in child pornography trouble, you may have to take some legal help, like that from a counsellor .

To be teenager is no easy thing in this digital age. But if your child really sound or appear upset, even a bit, take that as a premonition. Don’t panic, even if cyberbullying cases are on a rise. Your child will not be amongst the sufferers if you are giving them the unconditional love, support and empathy they need.

Have something to share with us? Let us know in the comments.

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