Unfortunately for parents in today’s world, the topics in this headline ARE something you need to be thinking about, AND talking about with your teen. While the majority of young people do not participate in cyberbullying and sexting, it is far to common, and the actual numbers would probably be quite alarming to many. A recent study by JAMA Pediatarics, (click here to see a report on this study) shows that one in four teens are receiving sexts and one in seven teens report they are sending sexts. Cyberbullying is also all to common. 1 in 5 students experience bullying IRL (In real life), and 37% of teens experience bullying on line. There are numerous websites out there to support parents and students on these topics, one is linked under the parent tab from the Fern Ridge School District main page: https://saferschoolstogether.com/parent-resources/
There are also many myths about sexting and cyberbullying. The most common narrative regarding sexting is that teen boys are the ones pressuring girls to send photos of themselves. However, research suggests that boys and girls participate in sexting about equally. A common myth regarding cyberbullying is that it only happens on social media sites (so if my child/teen isn’t on social media I don’t have to worry about it.) This is inaccurate, cyberbullying occurs everywhere that young people communicate: Apps, IM, chat rooms, and email to name a few.
In 2018 the district held an informative parent night at EHS on these topics (click here to see that post) , and we will be trying to organize something similar in the near future. As we head into this holiday break, it can be a good time to have a conversation with your student on these topics. The saferschoolstogether website has numerous safety and digital contract samples that can be a good conversation starter. There are many resources out there on both of the topics above, and talking about them with your child is the first step.