Access to smart phones means teenagers of today are subject to far more avenues for peer group teasing or bullying then we ever were. The challenge for parents and schools is teaching them how to access the positive benefits of technology to support their learning and social lives, while sticking to an acceptable code of conduct for their use. Taking photographs of homework, diagrams or other teaching resources written on the whiteboard, using Apps as a teaching resource or using What’s App to get advice from friends while completing homework, seems a positive change from the days of wrist-ache from taking copious notes from the blackboard.
Sadly, the news is not all positive. I’ve just had a conversation with a worried mum whose son had received a couple of nasty text messages from an un-known mobile number. Though pretty sure it was just one of his classmates being silly, she was unsure of the best way to prevent it happening again, without causing tricky on-going issues for him within his peer group.
My advice was to first contact the school. The tutor or form teacher is a good place to start, only escalating to the Head if initial conversations do not resolve the situation. Schools are able to investigate and resolve problems of this nature within peer groups without causing awkwardness by singling out any one individual as the victim or perpetrator. They can also make a judgement as to when to involve the police if investigations indicate things should escalate to this level. Community based police officers are often happy to go into schools to talk to groups about the law surrounding social interaction via technology, helping them to learn responsible use and the possible legal implications of improper use.
Avoiding parent to parent confrontation is paramount. It’s hard not to get emotional. The school will keep communication objective and constructive, whilst also ensuring both sets of parents are fully informed, reassured that the culprit has understood the error in their ways and the situation will not arise again.
Our consultants mentor a number of teenagers who are for a whole number of reasons finding life at school tricky.
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