Transgender Lifestyles and Parenting

Chaz Bono on ABC's Dancing with the Stars sparks controversy and discussion among many American families.

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Maybe you will watch this week’s Dancing with the Stars premiere and maybe you won’t; but no matter how you feel about Chaz Bono or DWTS, we hope that you will take this opportunity to talk with your children about bullying, and especially about cyberbullying. Cyberbullying comes with it’s own set of precautions, and as more and more teens join social networks and communicate via cell phone, it is imperative that you and your family understand the rules of the game when it comes to digital communication.

Cyberbullying: Three Steps to Get You Started

1. EDUCATE. Cyberbullying is “a communication or posting by one or more people using cybertechnology or digital media designed to hurt, threaten, embarrass, annoy, blackmail or otherwise target another person.” It is important that both you and your child know what cyberbullying looks like, that way you know the warning signs when you see them. Familiarize yourself with the types of social networks your child uses and the privacy controls for each one. It is always a good idea to “friend” and “follow” your child on Facebook and Twitter. In addition, social media monitoring services, such as FamilySignal offer easy, non-intrusive ways to keep an eye on your child’s online behavior. Below is a bank of resources to help, including a link to state cyberbullying laws, education materials, and parent forums.

2. COMMUNICATE. One of the more important steps to dealing with a bullying situation, online or off, is establishing an open line of communication between you and your child. Talk with your kids regularly and make sure they know what to do if they or someone they know becomes a victim of cyberbullying.

3. STAY TUNED. Cyberbullying is a hot topic, and new research and resources are published every day. Keep your eye out for the latest alerts on social network privacy controls and online safety. See the links below for a few sources to help you stay informed.

· States with Cyberbullying Laws

(Courtesy of the Megan Meier Foundation and the Cyberbullying Research Center)

· Beyond Bullies

Great compilation of resources and information about both bullying and cyberbullying

Connects kids with “ETeen Leaders” who can answer questions and give advice on bullying and cyberbullying. Teens can also apply to be mentors and ETeen Leaders.

· Bullying Parent’s Forum

Read other parents’ stories and share your own. Also provides helpful links to literature and support groups that deal with bullying and cyberbullying.

· Academic Research on Bullying and Cyberbullying

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is home to the Bullying Research Network, which compiles research on issues relating to bullying.

· Cyberbullying Scenarios

If you’re not sure what cyberbullying looks like, these scenarios give you a good idea of the lengths to which some bullies will go. Discuss them with your children and decide how you would react if they happened to you.

· FamilySignal Blog

Great resource for the latest news on social networking and online safety.

Leading social network monitoring tool.

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