How to Fight Cyberbullying

From “The Karate Kid” to “How to Train Your Dragon” to “Little House on the Prairie,” bullying is a common theme that reflects the real issues children and young adults face when peers begin a campaign of hate. And because learning how to subdue a rare dragon or perform a threatening karate kick isn’t effective (or even realistic) in social settings, parents have struggled to find the best way to explain bullying and give their children the tools necessary to combat — or simply survive — the unwanted attention.

Even more confusing is the rise of cyberbullying — something most teachers, parents, or other adults have little experience with and may be unaware of as the exploitation occurs on private online networks or is hurled by anonymous users. This can’t be ignored, however. Nearly one in five children who use social networking sites is the victim of cyberbullying, according to a recent study by children’s charity NSCPP.

Hannah Smith, a 14-year-old girl living in England, was one victim of online bullying. Gabrielle Molina was teased and taunted online and in the classroom. Both of these young girls’ deaths have been linked to cyberbullying. Most recently, a 17-year-old boy living in Scotland took his life after communication with a person he believed to be a teenage girl turned out to be someone extorting money. Stalking and bullying online are serious threats to our children, and they require parents to remain vigilant in monitoring their children’s online habits.

Recognizing the Abuse 

The signs of cyberbullying are similar to those of “traditional” bullying. A bullied child will tend to be withdrawn, agitated, and reluctant to share conversation. He might suffer from loss of appetite, a decline in the quality of his schoolwork, general worry, or emotional upsets like crying for no apparent reason. 

Many times, the victim does not even know who the abuser is due to anonymous comments or user profiles. This leaves the child feeling paranoid, wondering who is making his life miserable and whether he knows the person in real life.

Unfortunately, the effects of cyberbullying aren’t limited to digital spaces. While the perpetrator might not attend the same school — or even be the same age — the child’s peers can read the comments online and bring them to life in the “real world.”

Why is cyberbullying so harmful? Many children have self-doubt, fear, and imposed beliefs that they are “no good,” and a few unkind words displayed on a message board can turn these common insecurities into total desperation. These messages can be reviewed again and again, and the hateful comments tend to be much harsher as abusers act more brazenly when sheltered by a screen.

Because it’s so difficult to stop or monitor online activity, parents need to support, guide, and help their children develop skills to combat the abuse and deal with the psychological aftermath. 

How to Fight Back

For many parents, their first reaction to an instance of bullying is to take away the cell phone, the Facebook account, and any online privileges. No cyber life means no cyberbullying, right?

However, this tactic can actually make things worse. For many children and young teens, having hundreds or thousands of contacts, Facebook friends, or Twitter followers is a measure of popularity and self-worth. The phone is a portal to their world. While some negativity and abuse might be coming through, closing the door entirely is not the answer. Taking privileges away can feel like a punishment during a time when the child really needs trust, support, and open communication with his parents.

That said, there are some steps a parent can take to make a child’s digital world safer right away:

  • If the abuse is happening through SMS, change the child’s cell phone number or block the abuser’s number.
  • Shut down any profiles or accounts where users are anonymous, such as These sites attract users who prey on youthful insecurities.
  • Have an honest conversation about how to respond to hateful messages and how to understand the other person’s motivations.

If Things Get Worse

Bullying can become an unmanageable issue, especially if a child’s abusers attend the same school or participate in the same activities. Often, a child being bullied is viewed by other bullies as an easy target, and this results in a vicious cycle of hateful comments, teasing, and threats, both online and at school.

Create a team to address the issue. Include teachers, other parents, and siblings. Provide a supportive environment where the child can talk openly about the abuse and how he feels. If a young adult is uncomfortable discussing these issues with a parent, a coach or therapist could help him work through the bullying, regain his confidence, and reaffirm his values.

If threats have been made, you should immediately contact the police — even if it’s an online issue. Technology has become more sophisticated, and police departments may have the ability to track down the abuser through his or her digital signature. Hiring a lawyer or working with social services are also options for families or children who have experienced serious disruptions because of a cyber bully.

Having an online presence is a natural part of a young adult’s life today, so the most important thing you can do for your child is to instill in him the belief that he can discuss anything with you — including mistakes made online. If you make discussing online behavior and interactions a regular event, you can build a relationship in which online teasing, bullying, or even coercion are issues you fight together. 

For more than 30 years, Rod Beau has been an internationally sought-after education and management consultant and keynote speaker. His practical, real-world business experience and career have been in educational leadership, relocation consulting and executive and leadership coaching. As a Senior Consultant and Master Executive Coach, Rod is also an Accredited ANLP Trainer - specializing in Executive and Leadership Coaching. To learn more about Rod Beau, please visit


Are We Addicted Or Conditioned?

As parents I know we all want the best for our children.  However lately I have seen more children under the age of 13 showing off their visceral fat and poor posture.  They look depressed and seem to lack social skills.  Is this the new and accepted condition/addiction?

Most children in the US are overfed and undernourished.  Obviously, since the brain is the driving force within our bodies, it only logically follows that children who aren’t nourishing their bodies also aren’t nourishing their brains. I have seen first hand how kids come into the classroom with donuts and soda.  They can not learn on these non- food like substances.  Countless studies and anecdotal observations confirm a clear link between the quality of food kids eat and their academic performance.  In other words, a diet of whole foods such as broccoli and peaches will likely get you better test scores than one of soda and Twinkies. And be honest – which foods do you see more often in the lunchroom? Obese children are at an automatic disadvantage in schools.

There is also plenty of evidence linking improved academic performance to physical activity.  Those adults who have a regular exercise routine ‘routinely’ report a greater sense of productivity in their work.  Again, it only makes sense that the same would translate to our kids.  Children that spend more  time outdoors instead of stagnant time on the TV Big Box  or computers feel better about themselves and their brains and their bodies get more oxygen. Want to get those test scores up?  Pay attention to what your kids eat, and how often they get the chance to move!

Obese children will live shorter lives than their parents.  The New England Journal of Medicine reported that if the childhood obesity trends continue, this will be the first generation of children that lives shorter lives than their parents. Why are we so concerned about test scores and ignoring our students life expectancy?  Why do we think it’s more important that they score a good grade on an end of year test than that they have clean arteries, fully functioning organs, and a body that won’t betray them?  Why do we find it OK to give them a fried corn dog or fried mac & cheese?  If we already know that heart disease and type-2 diabetes shorten a person’s lifespan, why aren’t we springing into action as a nation when we realize that more and more children under the age of 10 are afflicted with these ‘adult’ conditions?  There are undeniable health risks involved with smoking, for instance.  And we’ve made great strides in combatting that deadly habit.  But our Standard American Diet is just as deadly, if not more so.  We won’t let our children smoke, but we’ll let them drink soda all day long.  I see two year olds drinking an entire can!  A regular 16 ounce can of Coke has 194 calories and a whopping 54 grams of sugar, sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. Causing High Triglycerides.  Not an ounce of nutrition in the can.  Think for a minute about what that does to our kids bodies, and it’s not hard to conclude they won’t live longer than us. 

Hardly any of our children eat healthy.  Various studies and reports conclude that only 2% of children in the United States eat a diet along the guidelines given by the USDA. If this is the case, it can be safely assumed that the number of children who eat according to the more nutritionally sound ‘Eat Right America’ food pyramid (which focuses on whole vegetables and fruits, not grains, as the most important foundation of a healthy diet) is statistically too small to even calculate.  Which means that so few American children eat nutrient dense foods every day, we can’t even group enough of them together for a percentage point.  This is a staggering number – or rather, lack thereof.   Most of our kids don’t eat vegetables every day, hardly any fiber, never mind the recommended several servings.

Are we going to fix this deficit with supplements?  I think not.

Fast food is on the rise.  It’s cheap, seems convenient, and to taste buds that don’t know the joys of eating whole, nourishing foods, it tastes great.  But it not only lacks the necessary nutrients for growth and proper development, it actually contains an overload of ingredients that, over time, are deadly –  trans-fats in fried foods, MSG in can soups which excite brain cells to death, white flour is glue in the intestines, processed meats, sugar, dextrose, maltodextrin, high fructose corn syrup, dirty sodium – all slow poisons served in HUGH portions.  In April 2012, The World Cancer Research Fund  has just completed a detailed review of more than 7,000 clinical studies covering links between diet and cancer.  Its conclusion is rocking the health world with startling bluntness.  Processed meats are too dangerous for human consumption.  Morgan Spurlock’s famous documentary “Super-Size Me” really drives home the truth of what these unhealthy food products can do to a body that’s already grown.  It’s frightening to think what it does to children.  “If you are having a “Big Mac attack,” stop and visualize what one cup of Crisco with MSG chemicals would look like spread around your thighs and brain!”  It’s become a dangerous staple of the Standard American Diet (SAD).

Diabetes is proliferating among our children, and half of all diabetic children are overweight.  Remember when Type-2 Diabetes was called ‘adult onset diabetes’?  Well, we can’t call it that anymore, because kids get it now, too. Why?  Because of the junk they eat.  According to The American Diabetes Association, the number of children diagnosed with type-2 diabetes DOUBLED between the years of 2005 and 2008.  If this doesn’t get our attention, I don’t know what will.

Connie is a Certified Health & Wellness Coach specializing in Metabolic & Endocrine health @

How Kids Can De-Stress Before A Test

Does your child leave home well-prepared for a test but still returns with a poor grade?  He may have studied for several days making sure he knows the content, but once it gets closer to the test day, the anxiety sets in.  He starts to worry, looses sleep and dreads going to school. 

Stress is common among many children when it comes to test taking.  When children are under stress it inhibits their ability to concentrate and focus.  Think of stress as a powerful guest of wind and you’re using all of your energy to make sure it doesn’t blow you away.  You’re unable to concentrate on anything else because the wind consumes all your energy and attention.  Stress was designed to be powerful and for good reason.  The right amounts of stress helps athletes train and perform well; it can pump us up for a great performance.  But when stress takes over your child’s ability to be attentive, his ability to evaluate, judge and make decisions is negatively affected. 

One great way to help relieve test anxiety and improve performance is to write.  Anxious students who wrote about their fears right before taking a test outperformed anxious students who did nothing at all.   According to a University of Chicago study, by writing down the negative emotions a child is experiencing, it frees up a part of the brain known as working memory.  This area of the brain stores relevant information needed to perform a task.  By clearing the stress clutter, it allows kids more power to focus and ace that test.  So, by simply allowing a child a few minutes to write about their fears and worries over taking a test was key to improved test performance among anxious students.

The next time you see your child leave for school stressed, consider asking his teacher to allow 10 minutes of journaling before a test.  She’ll most likely she improved test scores throughout the entire class.  Consider it a win-win for everyone.

For more tips on how to handle stress and anxiety associated with back to school, please join co-hosts Debbie Gockman ( and Bobbi Anderson (  On Friday, September 13th at 8 PM/EST on Life Coach Chat Channel.