Queens Public Television's Queens Update chose to do a special one hour segment on "Bullying In America". So I was invited to join the panel for this town hall discussion on bullying.
I joined fellow panelists Janet Susin (retired teacher, Regional President of National Alliance on Mental Illness), Officer John Groshans (Floral Park Police Department), Kateri Gasper (Queens County Senior District Attorney), Brett A Schudder (President/Chairman SISFI), and Victor Fronari (Director of Division of Child and Addolescent Psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital).
With our on-stage audience and callers from across Queens, we discussed everything from the psychological affects to internet protection strategies. As you might imagine, much of the conversation centered on cyberbullying. Here are a few hightlights:
Trust. For example, if you install parental control software on your child's computer, tell them that you are doing so and explain that it is for their safety should anything happen. By letting them know it is there, they will feel both respected and safe. Sure, they might get upset, but it's much better than them finding out later and starting to wonder what else you aren't telling them.
Build structure. Guidelines help children identify the right choice in a stressful or negative situation. More importantly, setting guidelines helps children build their own inner discipline and take pride in having made the right choice, rather than being forced to do so. Again, it's that respect coming into play. This is pivotal during years when children are starting to formulate their sense of worth.
If you close a door, they climb out the window. You cannot take away technology from this generation. We are in a new age and they feel naked and outcast without the right tools. One child I met recently admitted to buying her own pre-paid cell phone because her parents took hers away. Don't deny access. Set expectations and learn the technology for yourself so you can speak their language.
The list could go forever when it comes to great things discussed. I think the through-line was that we often forget that we are the ones who control technology. There was a time when people lived just fine without this stuff, so it's up to you to decide how much of a role you want it to play in your life. I'll leave you with this: have family dinner. I know, I know, none of us have the time. Don't underestimate what it can do. In this digital age, insist on personal interaction and communication.
QPTV is a non-profit that reaches over 440,000 viewers in the Queens area. They dedicate themselves to providing diverse programming that relates to the interests, concerns and needs of their community. The staff was incredible...thanks to QPTV, my fellow panelists, and all the guests who contributed to our conversation today!! It was an honor to take part!!