Wheeling, W.Va. (WTRF) – School has always been tough—but it’s never been tough like this.
The students of 2021 are dealing with an invention that’s never been experienced by any generation—social media.
And with kids able to talk to each other 24-7, it’s taken a longtime school issue like bullying and made it an overwhelming challenge for parents and teachers.
Kids are never really free from being exposed to other children. It’s not just happening at school, but they can get a hold of them and bully them 24 hours a day through social media.Gladys Goff, Wheeling Middle School guidance counselor
Education officials say bullying is no longer just harassment in the hallways—it’s left school boundaries.
Kids hear those hurtful words after they’ve come home for the day, and then they bring that hurt in with them when they come to school.
More students are acting out than what they used to, just for the fact that they were more or less shut in last year, not getting out, now that everybody’s back together we see more bullying coming out.Sgt. Greg Harris, PRO, Wheeling Middle School
So how do you help your child navigate the constant lines of communication?
Harris says the best way is to monitor them.
Family members can stop bullying where it starts by checking in on their Facebook or Snapchat accounts.
Moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, older brothers and sisters, it’s nice if they could check the social media, if you can get access to their accounts, follow what they’re doing, try to monitor what they’re doing, see if there’s any difference in anything they’re putting out there.Sgt. Greg Harris, PRO, Wheeling Middle School
There will also be behavior-related signs.
Goff says kids are often reluctant to come forward about being bullied, but they’ll make it clear that something is wrong in other ways.
If they notice that they’re not sleeping as well, they’re not wanting to come to school, they’re not riding the bus, there’s a drop in their grades.Gladys Goff, Wheeling Middle School guidance counselor
She and Harris say that once they’re alerted to the problem, they’re equipped to handle it.
They’ll sit down with both the students who are bullied and the one doing the bullying, and work with them about friendship and self-confidence.
And she wants every student to know that bullying isn’t something to silently suffer through—it’s something to address and learn from.
That no one deserves to be bullied, that no one has the right to bully you, that we need to learn to appreciate each other, respect each other, and acknowledge each other’s differences and celebrate those.Gladys Goff, Wheeling Middle School guidance counselor