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TXT bullying and your teenager

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Eva Maria
Eva Maria

Bullying has been rising at an alarming rate around the world. But it’s not the usual traditional playground bullying that’s got parents and teachers worried – it’s the stuff that happens outside of the playground, and usually, outside of school hours.

TXT bullying is a branch of technology bullying that school students have become exposed to. Many young people have a computer, the internet, an e-mail address, MSN Chat, and Facebook, but even more have cell phones – it’s a safety tool for parents to be able to get in touch with their sons and daughters to make sure they’re OK, but what happens when this safety tool is compromised through TXT bullying? At my 21 years of age, I have personally come across TXT bullying, as well as many of my friends. Here, I’d like to share with you some tips I’ve picked up along the way that you and your teen or pre-teen needs to know about:

To prevent TXT Bullying:

- Make sure you only give your cell phone number out to people in person – to the people you know and trust. When my friends and I turned 18, we would go out to clubs, and it’s very easy to give your number to a complete stranger you ‘think’ is safe when they ask “Hey, can I have your number?”. You can ALWAYS say ‘no’, or give a fake number, although this can sometimes lead to unloading a problem contact to someone you don’t even know! Always be careful who you give your number to, and make sure you save theirs as well so no miscommunication arises when they TXT you.

- Under no circumstances, put your cell phone number on public forums where anyone can access it such as Facebook, Bebo, Twitter, or other Social Networks. Although having your phone number is good to have on a public forum if you use it for business, but it is likely that your teen only has the one personal number, so make sure you let them know of the dangers of someone finding it on a public forum online

- Graffiti. This may be an obvious one, but we’ve all seen the graffiti on walls and buses where it says ‘To have a good time, call XXXX’ – although most of the time it won’t be the actual owner of the number writing it, I have seen people from high school write their actual number, in hope of some extra attention. This can lead to some serious trouble – you can probably imagine the kind.

If you are getting TXT Bullied:

- First off, don’t reply. Never reply to aggressive TXTs – the thing the sender wants most is to get attention. Save their number just in case under the name of ‘DO NOT ANSWER’ in case they ever try to call, so you don’t TXT back or answer the phone, thinking it’s a friend with a changed number. Chances are they just want some attention and if you don’t answer, they may think they got the wrong number, or that your number is disconnected, or that you don’t use it.

- If you do TXT back and find out it’s someone not willing to give their name, and only keep sending you abusive TXTs, don’t delete them, and don’t answer back after initial contact. If you receive 5 or more abusive TXTs, with evidence that you are not replying, you can take it into your provider’s store and get that number blocked. Unfortunately, this means that the network will block their entire phone, and if they already have your number saved somewhere else, there is no telling whether they will get a new phone and start abusing you again. Phone networks used to let a specific number be blocked from TXTing you without blocking their entire phone, but too many relationships-gone-sour have abused this privilege so the only way to block a number, is to block their entire phone so that they cannot use their number at all.

- Last resort, YOU change your number. SIM cards aren’t very expensive these days, and when you weigh up the benefits, you really do want to be as safe as you can, so don’t think twice if you are receiving too many unwanted TXTs. Your real friends who you know will understand.

These are all very easy tips to put into action, so make sure to refer to these if you ever need, and remember to stay safe!

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