Cyber Bullying by Hannah (updated)

Ever since the social media storm hit us with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and hundreds of other popular networking sites, cyber bullying has become an epidemic. It’s an unfortunate fact that anyone with access to the internet, whatever device it may be, also has access to the extreme, hurtful slander and abuse available online. You could be the nicest, kindest and the most innocent person on the planet, but there will still be someone in the world who doesn’t like that and given the easy accessibility the internet provides to connect with anyone over the world, it’s not hard for someone to voice their opinion of you.
Now with over 1 billion users online, Facebook is king of the social network. A near runner up is Twitter. Twitter does have a messaging service available, but generally people choose to voice their opinions out loud for all their followers to see, whether it’s a broad view or targeting someone in particular. Facebook is generally more direct with the use of private messaging, allowing each participant to twist the story their way when telling others about it through gossip, often making the situation worse for everyone involved.
Worse by far are the anonymous sites, where people have the ability to say whatever hurtful (or harmless) comments they wish without the risk of getting caught. When writing anonymously, people tend to let their words fly out of their mouths with no concern of how the person on the receiving end, but in some cases people who don’t even know the person they’re writing about will send extremely hurtful comments to them just to get a reaction for entertainment. In my personal experience of all these websites I’ve had more than my fair share of abusive comments, mostly through anonymous websites.
Sometimes it is best to try to disregard, however hard that can sometimes be, but at other times you might need to try and decode who is responsible. My personal advice is to look hard at the idiolect used – we all have a very distinctive individual voice even when typing online and this analysis can often give you a good idea of who’s behind the keyboard. This knowledge, if it someone known to you, is so valuable as it allows you often to put things in proportion and to plan an appropriate strategy for coping, and taking action or choosing not to. It puts you back in control at some level. Unfortunately, unless these sites become fully monitored 24/7, (a potential breach itself on people’s privacy), this won’t stop for good, but there are many ways to help soften the blow from cyber bullies. Peer support will always be one of the best ways to overcome hurtful comments, being reminded of how loved you actually are and the kindness most people express will not only make you feel better about yourself, but often changes your perspective and helps you to view these comments for what they actually are, – petty jealousy and entertainment seeking from those who need to ‘get a life’.
Following Hannah’s article we were sent a link to a blog written by David Cook, a cyber-crime expert, who has written an article on cyber-bullying and asks how can we protect children from cyber bullying? He looks into some statistics relating to cyber bullying and then goes on to look at the law and cyber-bullying, as well as providing some tips for parents. Please do take a look at:

Prepare your Daughter for Boarding – Case Studies

“Tuck” by Saskia

As a young 11 year old eager to start boarding school and escape the clutches of my parents, the prospect of a ‘tuck box’ seemed at the time, very alluring. I pictured it stuffed to the rim with chocolate biscuits, skittles, popcorn, and various sorts of fizzy drinks. So when the day finally arrived and it was time to accompany Mum on the weekly food shop to pick up these said items, I was thrilled at the thought of spending an hour or so picking out exactly the sort of sugary muck that I adored. I had always struggled with a very sweet tooth and whilst this had been sensibly controlled by my parents growing up I was now about to start a new adventure away from my parents, arm in arm with what seemed like a treasure chest to me (a huge shiny purple tuck box with my name emblazoned on top). I sat neatly arranging the food in my tuck box the morning before I left for school and I took such pride in being extra careful to place the heavy items at the bottom (biscuits, drinks, mars bars, Golden Syrup etc) and the lighter items (Doritos, bagged candy floss, penny sweets) on top as to ensure nothing would be damaged on the journey up to school. After my parents had dropped me at my new school I noticed that Mum had managed to sneak in some bananas and some raisins, but other than that it was all mine, and as far as I was concerned, I would be able to eat this whenever I wanted. Sure enough within a few days everything had gone and I was surprised one day to find my tuck box completely empty apart from a few leftover packets of polo mints rolling around at the bottom. I would have to wait until my next exeat in a few weeks time to restock my beloved tuck box! I was devastated. As the months at boarding school went on, I was quick to learn that successfully packing a tuck box with the correct items was an art in itself. Fast forward a few years and my tuck box would now consist of;
Marmite (lasts a long time and great for when you’re making toast in the evening. Chocolate spread or Nutella would be an alternative)
Small bottles of water (really handy to carry around to lessons and to take to bed. Obviously these are easily refillable.)
Cereal bars (slightly healthier upgrade to chocolate bars, and perfect for taking to a sports session or for a quick snack in between lessons)
Crisps (mini packets of crisps work better than the full size ones as those can easily be demolished in one sitting, something I was quite often guilty of!)
Malt Loaf (Sometimes an acquired taste but something I found made for a great early evening snack with some butter on top)
Sweets (a large mix bag of smaller candies, one that includes lollipops, small refresher bars and a few flying saucers – the perfect size)
Raisins (if you can, buy the mini packs, they make a great simple snack or again to take to lessons with you)
Bottle of Squash (lasts much longer than fruit juices or Ribena and can just be topped up with water)
Pasta (pasta sauces/pesto are a must)
Chocolate (Sharing bags are useful for handing out to friends and they often last a while. Malteasers, chocolate buttons, chocolate fingers…)
Cereal (A box of cereal can be so useful, I always stuck with Weetabix)

If you strategically pack your tuck box full with a mixture of chocolates and sweets and healthier bits such as fruit flakes, cereal bars and grapes then you really can’t go wrong. You don’t have much control over what you’re daughter eats and when, but you can ensure that you have left her with a wide range of useful snacks, sure to keep her happy until the next time she comes home. It does take a bit of experience and I found that each term my tuck would last for longer and after 2 or 3 years I had successfully mastered how to pack my tuck box effectively so it was last longer, and I soon found out what worked and what didn’t (a bit of trial and error and of course comparing tuck boxes amongst my friends.) Try not to restrict too much what goes in on that first day of school. Let her work it out for herself and I assure you that with time, she will learn to appreciate that it is far more rewarding to open your tuck box on a Tuesday evening at school to bags of pasta and noodles than to endless packets of Haribo and candy floss!