Panhandle residents learn how to address cyber-bullying

Video - Panhandle residents learn how to address cyber-bullying - KFDA

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - The Cyber Bullying Research Center is focused on limiting unsafe online use among teens.

According to the research center, over 70 percent of Texas teens admitted to being a victim of cyber-bullying, and almost 50 percent said they were bullied in the last 30 days.

To lower these incidents, the organization travels around the country, teaching those who work with our children and teens new ways to enforce positive and constructive social media use.

Today, the research center instructed Amarillo parents, school workers, and community leaders on how to allow teens to embrace the good that can come out of the internet instead of restricting them from using it at all.

“We know that kids have embraced social media and their smartphones, and the vast majority of them are making good decisions,"said Dr. Sameer Hinduja, co-director of Cyber Bullying Research Center. "But of course we still have a proportion that are making unwise decisions, and we just want to figure out what we can do to get them on track so that they don’t sabotage their future, or end up causing hurt to someone else.”

The organization showed how recognizing teenagers for making smart decisions online, such as viral kindness campaigns, could influence more teens to make a change.

“When we try to build positive school climates, we do enlist youth because they’re the most positive catalyst for change," said Hinduja. "Adults can talk until they’re blue in the face about don’t do this or do that instead. However when they hear it from peers, or peers are involved in some creative initiative, like creating a flash mob or a PSA contest involving videos they upload to Youtube related to positive messages or kindness or compassion, will then other students can relate to that, it is very accessible, and they can connect. They’ll similarly want to do the same thing.”

Following today’s event, many in attendance walked away with tools they are looking forward to sharing with their children or students.

“He gave us a lot of information about just little types of conversational activities that you could have with students just to get them to open up,” said School Counselor at Caprock High School Mandy Abernethy. “One thing that I walked away with which was kind of at the end is just to be that 'ask-able’ adult, that adult that makes it easy for a kid to come to.”

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