Bullying still persists, and studies have shown that kids who bully or are bullied get younger and younger every year. In the past, bullying only happens in elementary and high school; now, it’s even prevalent in preschool.
Research shows that nine out of ten victims of bullying either have a hard time telling an adult, or worse, don’t tell their teachers or parents at all. Sure, we can equip our kids with the life skills for empowering them to stand up to bullies. However, the bullies would still be able to traumatize other kids. So whether your child is the bully or the victim, one message needs to get across: Bullying needs to stop.
In an article in Smartparenting.com.ph, psychologist Kathleena dela Rosa from the Ateneo de Manila University says there are different ways bullying can happen: physical abuse such as pushing, hitting, punching; verbal abuse such as name-calling and shouting; psychological abuse, which takes the form of a child's isolation or exclusion from a group, and giving out threats; and cyberbullying, which happens online, mostly on social media sites such as Facebook.
The newest form of bullying, cyberbullying, is a growing threat, because more and more kids are joining social media, resulting in more kids being bullied online. In fact, more than half the kids online are being cyberbullied. While most social media sites have the means to intervene, such as giving their users the option to block a bully from their account, it’s just not enough.
Fifteen-year-old Trisha Prabhu, who gave a TEDxTeen talk last year about the newest form of bullying, created an app that reminds a child to think before sending or posting a message on social media that may make another child feel bullied. According to her, the idea behind the app is that kids’ brains need some kind of brake pedal to help them stop and rethink their actions before they decide to either go ahead or change course.
Aptly called ReThink, the app scans messages for offensive or cruel words and prompts the user to reconsider his message before harsh language is sent out or posted online. The one thing the app does which other social-media software doesn't is that it actively intervenes in the actions or behavior of a bully, instead of merely censoring hurtful and embarrassing messages that’s already out there on the web.
A study showed that 93 percent of kids are less likely to post bullying messages when prompted by ReThink. It turns out that giving kids even just a few seconds to think about what they’re doing is all they need. In fact, using ReThink has helped reduce kids’ willingness to post hurtful messages from 71.4 percent to 4.6 percent.
“Kids are not mean devils that run around with cruel intentions,” Prabhu said in her TEDxTeen talk last year. “Rethink before you type, rethink before you post, rethink before the damage is done, is an effective long-term method to stop cyberbulling at the source,” she adds.
ReThink is already available on iOS and Google Play. Know more about the app on its website.
Source: August, 24, 2015. “A 15-Year-Old Girl Just Developed An App That Might End Cyberbullying” (fatherly.com)