Cyber-bullying, an issue taking on greater societal concern, was the focus last week during a La Plata County 4-H/FFA anti-bullying night I hosted for our senior-level members.
In preparing for the event, I was able to research many important aspects to the issue of bullying. Bullying is a serious problem facing many youths in our communities. It can vary in its definition but basically breaks down to harmful attacks or intimidations made from one person (bully) on another (victim). These cowardly acts can be displayed through physical, verbal and mental means. Bullying occurs everywhere from schools to parks and, most alarmingly now, in technology.
The majority of the night focused on cyber-bullying. Cyber-bullying has taken on great concern because of the speed at which our society has changed. It is very common for most of our youths to now communicate through texting on a personal cellphone or posting information on a variety of different social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter. This is much different from when most parents of todays youths were growing up. As technology continues to move ahead at a rapid pace, we must work as a society to address ethical issues such as cyber-bullying.
The best way to start to address cyber-bullying is to become aware. Youths and adults must start talking about cyber-bullying. Set clear expectations and guidelines for using cellphones and social media websites. Enforce the consequences if expectations or guidelines are broken. Finally, we can teach and train our youths about strategies to use if they feel they are being cyber-bullied.
I found the website www.wiredsafety.org to have wonderful resources on this topic and provided useful strategies for prevention. I really liked its STOP, BLOCK and TELL message. It is very simple and easy to follow. First, STOP communicating with the person who is bullying you. It can be very tempting to reply negatively after being cyber-bullied, but replying can make the problem worse. Next, BLOCK that person from being able to communicate with you. You can block people from accessing your phones and social media sites. Finally, TELL an adult. By telling an adult, you are actively addressing the issue in a proper manner.
Colorado 4-H has a code of conduct all of our members must uphold. Conduct not in keeping with these high standards will not be tolerated. We participate in accordance with this code to ensure that all members have a safe, inclusive and positive environment for our youths to thrive. As a community, we must stand together against all forms of bullying for a greater society.
Judging team in Texas
Ending on a positive note, our La Plata/Montezuma Livestock Judging team (many of whom attended the anti-bullying night) just got back from the Clarendon College Texas Invitational Judging competition. I am pleased to announce that our teams respectively were second and seventh overall out of 17 teams, and Michael Semler took first place in overall individual among 43 participants.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6463. Greg Felsen is La Plata County 4-H youth development agent.