Bullying, Self-Esteem and Social Media

We all react with sadness when you hear that a teen has taken her own life because of a humiliating experience. I read today about such an incident. it seems there was a party arranged among several teens for the express purpose of drinking vodka and gatorade. One teen drank so much she passed out. Then her friends (I hesitate to call them that) proceeded to pull down her pants and using a marker proceeded to write lewd and disgusting comments on the lower part of her exposed body. You can guess what happened next, these images were posted all over the internet.

When the teen in question realized what had happened, she felt that her reputation was ruined and she had absolutely no memory of the event. The embarrassment and humiliation led to her taking her own life.

We are hearing a lot about cyber bullying and that something needs to be done. Questions are being asked about why teenage boys see girls as vehicles for sexual fantasies and worse. I agree with these concerns.

But my questions turn to why kids are putting themselves in harms way by their own behavior. What is missing when teenage girls willing indulge in dangerous behavior like getting so drunk they are unable to take care of themselves? Why are they okay with having friends that would even think of doing such a thing? Where is their self esteem and self worth that would keep them from engaging in this kind of behavior?

Now, please don't get me wrong. There is NO excuse for the behavior of the other teens who not only thought it was okay to take advantage of an unconscious person, take pictures of the deed and post them for all the world to see. Those kids have some soul searching of their own to do. I know 'in my day' teens got drunk and girls had sex. But there was no documentation or photos that this happened. There were rumors and so it was always 'iffy' whether they were true or not. Not so today. If anything has changed it is the moment to moment photo log of a teens life that becomes public within minutes of actual events. This is a fact of life.

>We are failing our kids if they are growing into adulthood without self-respect and self-esteem. Sure, all kids do stupid things and experts say their brains are not fully formed so they lack impulse control. But, not all kids do this kind of thing.

And, it's our job as parents to work from day one to instill appropriate values and set firm boundaries that lead to not only self-esteem but the toughness to bounce back from a terrible experience and know that life is worth living. It is important that we teach our kids that the internet is forever and to understand the consequences of behavior that at the least you won't be proud of in a few years to behavior that can push one toward the choice this teen made to end her suffering.

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Author: Phyllis Grannis