Parents on the Offensive Against Cyber Bullying

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FOLSOM–

The world wide web brought world wide worry to the Rojo home in Folsom.

“I tracked down her name and phone number and it turned out that it was a 55-year-old man living in Maryland … and I explained all this to my son,” said Tina Rojo.

That’s the frightening point Rojo recently came to with her 16-year-old and a supposed girl he met on a party website.

“It was frightening that he was sucked in after we had talked about this so many times,” she said.

That’s one reason Rojo and about 70 other Folsom parents decided to do something very low-tech Wednesday to avoid high-tech tragedies – they’re talking.

They’re talking to each other and to experts about how on-line living affects young minds.

One therapist says today’s social media sites are yesteryear’s school bus.

“If a word gets out that’s unfavorable to you, it’s your whole social network,” said marriage and family therapist Ruth Anderson.

“In my home, I make sure my kids know anything that’s going to download on my phone, too,” said Sergeant Jason Browning of the Folsom Police Department.

That’s just one piece of advice parents picked up at a forum hosted by area counselors and the Folsom-Cordova Parent-Teacher Association.

Another key tool? Just educating yourself on the newest social media sites.

Rojo knows all about Facebook and Twitter but had not heard about Voxer before the forum.

Kik allows texting via computer, no phone required.

“Ask.fm has kind of rose a lot and that one lets people to ask other people questions,” said Browning about which social media sites his department is dealing with.

Florida investigators say Ask.fm was one of the tools of online torture used by two young girls just arrested for bullying Rebecca Ann Sedwick to death. Last month, Sedwick threw herself off of an abandoned cement plant to escape the taunting.

Once online problems start, experts say swift action is crucial — but it’s not the most important thing you can do to support a vulnerable child.

“Slow down the fixing of the problem and up the empathy factor,” said Anderson.

And for any teen who thinks what’s been done to them digitally is just too much, Sergeant Browning has a special message:

“There’s a lot more to life out there than what someone thinks of you digitally.”

 

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