Computers are a 'dangerous tool' in the hands of bullies, says LAPD volunteer

Sept. 21, 2012, 3:43 p.m.

Technology like Facebook has made it easier for kids to be bullies from behind closed doors. (Credit: Flickr via rutty)

Bullying in schools has been a longstanding issue for kids and teens, but with recent technological advancements such as Twitter, Facebook and texting, it's gotten a lot easier for bullies to do so from behind closed doors.

"It's gotten a lot worse because there are so many tools available to the bullies to use," said Monica Harmon, a public safety advocate and LAPD volunteer. "I think the computer has become a very dangerous tool for kids."

In recent weeks, Harmon has been giving presentations to parents, schools and community groups about bullying in the 21st century.

"We as adults need to start becoming more pro-active in helping to stop this," she said.

Harmon added that oftentimes parents "aren't really in the loop" with what's going on with their kids, and that children will rarely report being bullied because they either feel threatened or ashamed. This is why communication is key.

"That's the main thing I tell parents," said Harmon. "Talk to your kids."

A federal survey in 2011 showed that 20 percent of high school students nationwide report being bullied. Harmon said that although South L.A. schools do have bullies, it doesn't stand out as having any more than anywhere else in the city. Rich or poor, bullying is a universal issue.

"Unfortunately, bullying does not discriminate," she told OnCentral. "Since February 2011, when I began speaking out against bullying, I have been to every part of Los Angeles from the eastside to the westside, South L.A. and Valley areas, and bullying is the same in every area no matter if [it's] low-income, rich or middle-class."

Officer Bob Deamer with LAPD's Newton Division runs a mentoring program with local schools. He's been the point person in a program that brings famous musicians into the schools, to expose the kids to different kinds of music, as well as to talk about bullying. He said the main message of the system is "Don't let anybody take your dream away."

As of now, Deamer said he's been working with a few kids, mostly between the ages of 9 and 14 years old, who are getting bullied via Facebook. He said that parents should be working to monitor what kids are doing on the Internet as well as what they're exposed to.

"Back in the day you got bullied at school but at home you were fine," Deamer said. But now it can reach into kids' homes and invade their personal safe space.

He went on to explain that bullying is a social problem; its been ignored for too long a time and can effect you for the rest of your life.

"If you don't report it you're just as guilty as the bully," said Deamer.

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