Monday, December 10, 2012

'Cyber Bullying No More' gains traction!

Thank you, Cyrus Webb, for including 'cyber bullying no more: Parenting A High Tech Generation' in your list of 100 best books for 2012!!  And, thank you for demonstrating concern for a topic that continues to harm our youth!

Attention Parents and Guardians!  Start protecting your kids from cyber bullying and preventing its spread!  Today, download a "Family Online Contract" from one of the following sources!

Family Online Internet  Safety Contract -  (click 'Parents', click 'Contract')

Family Contract for Online Safety - (click 'pledges' and print)

Also, for additional safety tips, go to Keeping Kids Safe -

Remember, like most issues in parenting, doing the HARD WORK UP FRONT saves everyone from tremendous HEARTACHE IN THE END.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Cyber Bullying Interview with Jeff Hodges!

Join me Tuesday, Nov. 13th, 2012 at 2:00 pm ET, as I have a conversation with Jeff Hodges, Host of Young Men's Perspective Magazine, for an informative conversation about cyber bullying.  He's a cool host who really cares about the well-being of our community.

 Pick up your cop y on - Amazon - Cyber Bullying No More!
Start protecting your family today!

For more tools and tips, visit Holli Kenley!

Monday, October 8, 2012

National Anti-Bullying Month! Two Powerful Movies!!

October is a busy month.  There are several causes that deserve our attention - one of them being National Anti-Bullying Month!  Although we tend to think about traditional bullying when it comes to this aggressive and destructive behavior, we must also not forget to acknowledge the toxic trend of cyber bullying.

Most of us are aware that both types of bullying our hurting our youth.  Approximately 160,000 students per day or about 3 million per month, stay home from school out of fear of being bullied. According to recent studies, about 1 in 3 students will experience some form of cyber bullying during his/her lifetime.  More disturbing is that the experts are suggesting that "...cyber bullying is becoming a normative social behavior as individuals navigate social and video sharing worlds and it is contributing to the interruption to and breakdown of ordinary relationships (not just those of bully and victim)..." In other words, anyone who utilizes electronic communications is at risk of becoming a victim, or being involved in bullying, or both.

Over the past several years, a movement to stand up against these types of cruel and abusive behaviors has begun to take hold. This past year, two powerful movies were brought to our attention about the painful, destructive, and life-changing consequences of bullying - Bully and Bullied 2  Silence. After seeing both of these films, it is impossible to walk away from them without forever being changed by their message.

The movie Bully profiles the lives of several families who have children that were/are victims of horrific bullying. The movie graphically portrays the torture and abuse that innocent young people live with on a day to day basis - at school, on the school bus, and in their communities.  Bully chronicles the tragic consequences of chronic bullying as one family endures the unthinkable - the loss of their precious son by suicide. Bully pulls you into the lives of these families and it will leave you forever changed by the experience.

Bullied 2 Silence is also a powerful and poignant movie which profiles the deeply embedded injuries and injustices felt by numerous victims of deliberate and destructive bullying. As the participants in the film disclose their innermost fears - their lack of safety, security, and support - it is impossible not to feel their pain and desperation. Although all the narratives of the participants profiled in the film touched me deeply, the story of a young talented beautiful dancer who was being bullied mercilessly by other students in the dance company tore at the fabric of my heart.  The senselessness of it all sickened me.

Go see one or both of these films.  If Bully or Bullied 2 Silence is not in your community, go to their websites(  and ).Schools and organizations can request showings or they can locate places that the movies are being shown. Every student and every parent/guardian need to see these films.  In fact, anyone who cares about the welfare of our most precious natural resource - our kids - needs to see these films.   

After seeing these movies, you too, will want to be part of making a change. Our kids need us.  Let's not let them down any longer.  

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Driving in the Cyber Lanes - Lesson 5 Protection Against Cyber Bullying

Lesson Five - Establish a "net neighborhood".

When our children are little and they ask to go out and play, what do we as parents or guardians usually say?  Where are you going?  With whom are you going to play? As they grow and mature, we continue responsible parenting by wanting to know who their friends are and we want to be aware of the places they are going along with what they are doing. We do this so that we can protect them against possible danger and harm.  

This same thinking must be implemented as our children spend time in their net neighborhood! And yet, many parents or guardians do not have a clue about where or with whom their children are spending time in the cyber world.  This is extremely dangerous and puts them at high risk of cyber harm.

There are several important steps that parents and guardians can implement to protect their children from cyber bullying by establishing a "net neighborhood".

1. Parents and guardians must get to know the  net neighborhood. Educate yourself.  Sit down and find out who and what you are dealing with. If you are struggling with the cyber world, have your children teach you!

2. As young children begin to venture out, supervise them and explore with them. Where are they going?  With whom are they spending time? Teach them what is safe territory and what is not. Talk about warning signs or red flags.  Is someone asking for personal information?  Does a stranger befriend them?  Is someone being mean, or unkind,or worse? 

3.  Get to know your children's web buddies, text friends, etc. Who are they? What age?  From where does your child know this buddy? Is this person really a friend?

4. Parents and guardians, it is vital that you understand that this "net neighborhood" is a place where children spend hours and hours of time.  How long or how much time each day do you want your child in this neighborhood?  Set limits and be consistent!

5. On a frequent basis, sit down with your children and visit their net neighborhood with them.  Talk about the people and the places they are visiting.  Discuss the kind of behavior that is occurring - positive or negative. Make changes and adjustments as appropriate.  Always refer back to the Family Internet Use Agreement.

This may sound strange, but our children (as do we) have a relationship with the web! Just as we would want to know about their our child's first boyfriend or girlfriend, we must take that same approach with the net. They spend time there, they behave in certain ways, and they become involved in activities that they may not be ready to handle or that may be unhealthy. 

They need us to watch over them and their net relationship so it can develop  in a healthy manner. Our children deserve no less.  

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Driving in the Cyber Lanes - Lesson 4 Protection Against Cyber Bullying

Lesson Four - Implement safety measures!

Before handing over a piece of technology to a child or young person, parents and guardians must implement several safety measures. Not doing so is as dangerous as allowing your child to drive a car with a seat belt on! There are many safety measures to consider, but here are a few that are not negotiable. 

1. Make certain that there is filtering and monitoring software installed into the device.
2. Set parental controls when possible.
3. Protect passwords.  Teach children not to share their passwords.
4. Protect profiles. Teach children to limit the amount and kinds of information posted online.
5. If children are using the social sites, utilize the security settings provided by the online social sites.
6. Report abuse to the internet use provider,social site, and/or to the police.

It is extremely important that you talk to your children about the risks and dangers of electronic communication.  Remind them that they are traveling in places they have never seen or are even aware of.  Talk to them about the hundreds and thousands of strangers who might be viewing their words, their profiles, and their activities.  Tell them that if they ever receive any harmful words, messages, or comments, they are to do three things IMMEDIATELY:




Parents, guardians, and other trusted adults - when children tells you that they have received hurtful, cruel, or harmful messages,texts, etc., do NOT disregard it or minimize it!  Believe them, comfort them, and support them.  This will not go away or get better by itself!  I will give you tips on how to deal with this in later blogs. 

For now, be the adult they need you to be.  Be the parent/guardian they deserve. Let them know you are they to protect them. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Driving in the Cyber Lanes - Lesson 3 Protection Against Cyber Bullying!

Lesson Three - Monitor the use of the technology!

Once adults have established a Family Internet Use Agreement, it is necessary to monitor the use of technology. What good is an agreement if there is no enforcement of rules or expectations?  Parents and guardians, do not think of this as "spying" or "invading your child's privacy".  This is responsible parenting!  This is how we protect our children!

Many adults say, "We put the computer in our den where everyone can see it."  Or, "Our kids have to leave their bedroom doors open so we can see what they are doing."  This is a start, but it is not enough!  Parents and guardians, you have the "right" to see where your child is spending time and with whom.  Sit down with them on a weekly basis and check to see where they are going and what they are doing with their technology.  It is being used in the ways agreed upon?  If so, great!  If  not, talk about what is going on, review the family agreement, and implement reasonable consequences. DO NOT take away the technology or ground them from it!  This does nothing to change the behavior and it teaches them to be more careful about their indiscretions. The whole point is to teach our kids how to be responsible with their technology.  A few other tips include the following.

1.As children test this issue or push back, weigh the children's right to privacy with your right to monitor. Again, explain the importance of protecting them. Caring for their safety is your responsibility as a parent or guardian.

2. As children age and develop, revisit the monitoring issue as needed.  However, do not stop monitoring! The older children become and the more proficient they are with their technology, the more at risk they are for cyber harm or the more they are likely to inflict cyber harm.

3. Use the children's track record as your guide in monitoring.  Have they been responsible?  Good.  Affirm them and validate them.  Continue to monitor on a consistent basis.  Have they been irresponsible, flirting with risky online behaviors, or hiding information from you?  Stop and talk with them about what they are writing and how it impacts others!  Increase your monitoring.  Be consistent!  Let them know that when their behaviors become more healthy and appropriate, they will earn back more freedom. 

Parents and guardians, if there were no law enforcement in place to enforce the rules of the road, undoubtedly no one would obey them!  This is just how human nature works. They same logic applies to monitoring technology! If your children know you are not going to check their online activities or behavior, they will venture out into unsafe territory and they will be put in harm's way.

Be the parent or guardian your kids want you to be - even when they don't seem to want it! They will still love you.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Go See "Bully" Movie!!

Parents, Guardians, Educators, Community & Spiritual Leaders, Youth...Anyone who cares about the social health of our country...please...go see "Bully - The Movie (YouTube Clip)" (The Bully Project) by Lee Hirsch.

I just finished seeing this brutally honest gut-wrenching account on the normative behavior of bullying in our country.  I was overwhelmed by the heartbreaking account of how individuals can torment and humiliate any human being and how bystanders can sit by and laugh and participate and do nothing to help the victim - adults included.  I was alarmed at how dismissive school and community personnel were and how in some cases they even blamed the victims for the horrific crimes committed against them.

Towards the end of the movie, I thought for "a moment" that there is no hope in changing this toxic societal behavior - it is just too common place and rampant. Then, I watched and listened closely to Kirk Smalley - founder of Stand for the Silent.  He started this organization after his son committed suicide as the result of chronic bullying. Mr. Smalley will not give up.  He will fight this issue for the rest of his life.  He will keep his son's voice alive.

When I walked away from the theater, I reminded myself that each one of us can make a difference.  I have always believed that.  And I do believe in the goodness of others. However, I think we are in dangerous territory of forgetting that each of one us deserves to be treated with respect, dignity, and with human regard.  I think we are on the verge of losing our empathy, compassion, and human connection for one another.

Please go see "Bully". Any one of these children in this movie could be ours - they probably already are. It will touch your heart and  move you to action. Let's each do what we can with whatever resources our at our disposal.

I know I will.  I will not give up.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Driving in the Cyber Lanes - Lesson 2 Protection Against Cyber Bullying!

Parents, Guardians, and Youth...

Lesson Two - It is mandatory that parents/guardians establish an "internet use agreement" with their children."

I know you might be thinking, "What?"  "Are you kidding me?"  "No way!"  Hold on everyone!
Think back for just a minute to our analogy on driving.  There are tons of rules that we must all abide by and for good reason.  They are there for our safety and protection and for that of others as well. Without driving rules or regulations, there would be chaos and everyone would be put into harm's way.

If we are indeed serious about protecting our children from cyber harm, we must implement this lesson.  There are many great examples of internet use agreements on line.  One example can be found at (see below). It is a free download.  It is easy to understand and to implement.  All members of the family participate in the agreement - not just children.

If families want to be creative, it is also a great idea design your own family contract.  However, refer to an example to make sure that your agreement covers what is needed.  By drafting your own agreement, children (both younger and more mature) tend to have more of a sense of "buy-in."  As the kids grow and accept responsibility for their on-line behaviors, amend the agreement to reflect their maturity.

If your children break the contract or get involved in unhealthy cyber behaviors, the agreement is there to assist you in moving forward with consequences. More importantly, it will provide an opportunity to have a discussion about healthy and appropriate behaviors before additional harm is caused. In other words, it is an excellent communication tool!

Parents and guardians, don't cave in on this lesson!  Again, be strong.  Be the adult your children want and need you to be. You won't regret it!

Family Online Internet Safety Contract  (Sample - free download!)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Driving in the Cyber Lanes - Lesson 1 Protection Against Cyber Bullying!

Parents, Guardians and Youth...

Lesson One - Know why you are giving your children access to a piece of technology or giving them permission to utilize the technology.

When are children reach the age of driving, we take many steps to prepare them for that responsibility:  driver's education class, driver's training, permit and practice driving, a written test, a driver's test, etc. Even then, when our kids start driving on their own, it is a scary and worrisome event. We know we have done our best to prepare them with protective measures, but we know anything can happen.

When we give our children access to a  piece of technology or give them permission to utilize technology, we are giving them the keys to drive in the fast lanes of the cyber world!  And it is indeed a dangerous place for them to be, especially without any instruction or preparation. Here are a few guidelines for implementing protective measures with lesson one:

1. Ask yourself why you are giving your child the piece of technology or access to it. For younger children, two good reasons may include for safety or for emergency contact. Doing school work or acquiring educational information may also be valid reasons as children age. If you cannot think of a good reason for utilizing the technology, hold off.  Do not cave into peer pressure or the idea that "everyone is using it or has access to it."

2. Once you decide what your reasons are, explain those reasons clearly to your children. Tell them exactly what the device is to be  used for, how it is to be used, and when it is to be used. For example, you  may give your child a cell phone so that he/she can call you for safety purposes. At the same time, are you giving your child permission to call friends, to text,  to take pictures, etc.?    

3. As children age, access to different kinds of technology is appropriate.  However, again, check your rationale for doing so. Think back to our driving analogy.  Once your children have passed all the driving requirements and obtained a  license, would you let them drive on the freeway right away?  Of course not.  The same parenting strategies must be implemented with technology.  Have your children proven that they are responsible with their usage and access?  Have they followed the guidelines you have provided? Are your children ready to take on the responsibilities as well as the risks?

Parents and guardians, I know this is hard work.  When we look around, everyone seems to connected to some device for some reason.  Be strong.  You are your children's best advocate and foremost protector!  Know that you are doing the right thing - preparing them and protecting them as they are driving in the cyber lanes! 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

What does it mean to be a cyber bully?

After watching Chris Cuomo's 20/20 piece on cyber bullying, I realized that many of our youth, as well as adults, consider their every day online behaviors to be normative.  As we have become more reliant on electronic devices for our sources of  communication, we slowly and over time become less connected with the impact that our words might have on others.  This is only natural because we are not face to face delivering our words nor are we present when they are received. For example, if we send an unkind or angry message to someone, we do not have to experience the pain, disappointment, or shame that an individual might feel; in fact, we can walk away from our behaviors without giving it any thought at all. Although it is hard to acknowledge or admit, the more these behaviors are repeated without consequence, the more natural or normal they  become to us.  

Although there are many factors to discuss with you about the profile of a cyber bully, there is one constant that we should all be aware of and that each one of us is extremely susceptible - losing our empathy for one another. We may never intend to hurt or shame anyone with our words, but when we do not stop and consider how the other person is going to feel when he/she receives the message, we begin to take on one of the characteristics of a bully. This detachment is reinforced by the viral nature of messages that receive attention and affirmation from a vast audience and also by the longevity of its presence of the web. In simpler terms, our bullying behaviors make us wildly popular in the social networking circles, at least for the moment. 

Parents, guardians, and youth - this is an important lesson.  

1. Always, when writing, texting, etc. about another person, think about your words.
2. Think about how the other person might feel when receiving your message.
3. Once you deliberately send a message that harms another individual in any way,
you are entering the mindset of a cyber bully.  

4. Picture yourself face to face with the other person, and then, rethink each and every word before you press "send".

Our words do mean more than we think or know.
They can change and alter lives.
They can define us a bully or they can connect us in meaningful ways.   


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Anti-Bullying Movement Picks Up Speed!

I am so looking forward to the release of Lee Hirsh's movie, "Bully".  Lee is a powerful and influential individual who is using his talents and his experiences to stand against the destructive wave of bullying behavior that has become a part of our culture. 

Tragically, these harmful bullying behaviors have crossed over into the cyber world. As our children embrace a world that has been magically transformed by the wonders of technology, they also enter into a world void of human regard for one another; and they often find themselves navigating through a climate infused with revenge, retaliation, and regret. Experts agree that one out of every five children has been the target of cyber bullying, and as they age and become more proficient, the likelihood of being targeted increases immensely.  Although this may sound harsh, when we allow our children to navigate through the cyber world by utilizing any means of electronic communication without implementing proper protective and preventative measures,  we may as well put them into a car without any prior practice and tell them to go ahead and drive! We must wake up, educate ourselves, and stand with our children as they enter a very dangerous cyber world! 

I, along with countless other individuals, am committed to standing against bullying of any kind! Let's begin our education by watching Lee's movie when it is released.  And, then let's take action.  I will do my part by blogging about practical and manageable practices to incorporate into your daily lives. Let's stop all bullying  - real or cyber!

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