Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tactics to Outwit Cyberbullies

Don’t Let Them Get the Upper Hand!
They’re Everywhere!

No longer relegated to the playground, the bus, the cafeteria, this bully can now work full-time before school, after school at targeting his victim.  With just a few clicks, the humiliation can be witnessed by hundreds, even thousands of people online.

According to research conducted by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network), more than 80% of LGBT kids experience cyberbullying defined as harassment of others using Internet, mobile phones or other types of cyber technology with intention to threaten or humiliate.

Because of modern technology’s ability to reach large audiences, cyberbullying is particularly invasive.  We’ve all read about suicides of youths resulting from this non-stop form of bullying.  In fact, gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.

Ways They Can Get To You

Boys tend to bully by “sexting” or with messages that threaten physical harm.  Girls in general spread lies, rumors, expose secrets or exclude the victim from e-mails. The cyberbully can post pictures to embarrass or hurt, send threatening e-mails or text messages, dupes you into revealing personal information, pretends to be you online and can spread rumors, and all these insidious methods can be done anonymously.

Parent’s Role

So, what can a parent do?
  • ·      Keep all computers in a common area of your house so you can see what’s going on.  Monitor its use.  Try to find out whom your child communicates with.
  • ·      Have your child tell you if he/she receives a harassing message. She/he should not respond to any message or post.  The cyberbully wants you to respond. 
  • ·      Online services can block or ban options. You can prevent communication by blocking the bully’s e-mail address, cell phone number, and deleting them from social media contacts.
  • ·      Talk to your phone and internet provider.  They can provide additional privacy settings.
  • ·      Report activities to their internet service provider (ISP) or to any websites they use to target your child.

It’s Important to:

·      Save evidence of cyberbullying such as a screenshot of a web page.  Report them to a teacher or school counselor
·      Report threats of harm and inappropriate sexual messages to the police.  In many cases, the cyberbully’s actions can be prosecuted by law.
·      Keep reporting every bullying incident.  Although this is time-consuming, it’s a necessary step to stop the cyberbully.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bullyproof Your Child Before School

  •       9 out of GLBT teens are victims of anti-gay bullying. (Gay, Straight Education Network)
  • ·      More than 50% of GLBT students who took a P.E. class were bullied or harassed during that class. (Gay, Straight Education Network)
  • ·      28% of GLBT students will drop out of school. ( GLBT Teens)
  • ·      Victims of bullying may suffer mental and general health consequences after bullying occurs. (Mental Health guidelines) 

No wonder your GLBT child is dreading school.  Here it is mid-August and that unsettled feeling has already invaded your household.  He/she knows that anyone can be bullied, but chances are he will be targeted because he is perceived as “different” or vulnerable.

As parents, you want to protect your children from bullying.  How can you help?

            Here are some Tips:
  • ·      Start now before school starts to practice anti-bullying strategies.  Teach resilience!
  • ·      It’s important to be specific in defining what bullying is: physical abuse, verbal taunting, online harassment or even passing along a hurtful message or rumor.  (This is different from drama which is short-lived and over-reaction.)
  • ·      Bullying is done on purpose.
  • ·      Encourage friendships.  If your child has many friends and appears to be popular, he’d be less apt to be targeted.
  • ·      Promote self-confidence rather than self-pity.  A humorous line such as “I don’t care what you’re saying about me.  I have better things to do with my time” is off-putting to the bully.  You child can then walk away with confidence.
  • ·      Rehearse hypothetical situations in which a bully can taunt your child.  Help your child come out with solutions in which she can stand up for herself.
  • ·      Your child should know where to go for help at school – a trusted teacher, guidance counselor, principal.  Role play on what she should say. Emphasize that this is not tattling.
  • ·      Learn how bullying is handled in your child’s classroom, but don’t assume the teacher will “stick his neck out” for your child, particularly if he/she may be GLBT and worried about job safety.
  • ·      Know your child’s school policies on bullying.
  • ·      Be a good role model.  How do you retaliate when you’re offended by someone?  Be careful about what you say about people who are “different.”
  • For more anti-bullying tactics, see my former blog post: Bullying

Next week, I’ll write about ways to combat insidious cyberbullying.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How to Find a Gay-Friendly Therapist

You’re worried.  Your gay child seems more than moody.  Or your lesbian daughter seems more withdrawn and her weight is fluctuating.  Your LGBT child is dreading  school– another year of bullying.

Beware of Conversion Therapy

You think he/she may need a therapist, but you’re read that some mental health professionals try to convert their LGBT patients and make them straight.

You want to help but you don’t want your kid to feel badly about himself because the expert is making him feel guilty about being “different” and is trying to make him switch his sexual orientation. This is called reparative therapy. The American Psychiatric Association shuns reparative therapy and in 1973 declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder.

 So, what’s a parent to do?  How do you know if the therapist is gay-friendly before you hire him?  There are ways to gauge if a therapist has had adequate training in this area (most therapists don’t).  So how do you find a GLBT-friendly therapist?

Places to Look
·      Check with your local gay and lesbian center in your area. It may have counseling on-site and usually maintains lists of gay-friendly businesses and health care providers.
·      Get recommendations from a nearby chapter of PFLAG (Parents for Lesbians and Gays).
·      The psychology department of a neighboring  university may have an on-site clinic with mental health professionals.
·      Gay publications such as Out and lesbian magazines such as Curves may have ads for therapists.
·      Ask your family doctor (if she or he is gay-friendly) for a referral.
·      The Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists has an online referral system of participating members. See

What to Look For In a Therapist
·      You need a therapist who does not view being gay as a “problem.”  One who has additional training on what it means to be gay would be ideal.
·      Before you begin as a patient, ask the therapist his or her opinions of LGBT people and lifestyles.  What is the therapist’s views on LGBTQ issues most relevant to you?  What type of approach does he/she take?  Is it gay affirmative therapy?

What To Look For In The Office

·      Ellen Friedrichs of About.Com recommends that you peruse the magazines in the waiting room. Do any of them pertain to the gay and lesbian population or are they right-wing Christian publications?
·      On the informational intake form, does it just say “single” or “married?”  Or does it also have a box marked “sexual orientation?”

Do your homework and you’ll be more likely to find a compatible match for your child, resulting in a happier and healthier state of mind.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tolerance Begins At Home

Homelessness A Big Problem For LGBTQ Kids

Next time you’re in a big city like New York and you see kids as young as 12 living on the street, in the subways, you may think they’re penniless, drop-outs from school or e.) all of the above.  Chances are they are “throwaways,” GLBTQ kids (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning ) kids whose parents disapprove of their sexual orientation and have made it so unwelcoming in their own homes, that these “different” kids would rather live a hand-to-mouth existence on the streets than be bullied at home.

GLBTQ children who hear “no son of mine is going to be gay!” or “you’re going to hell!” or “you can’t be!” would rather leave home, even if it means turning to prostitution, selling drugs, being turned away from a shelter due to lack of beds.

Studies of LGBTQ Youth’s Runaways

The National Alliance to End Homelessness roughly estimates that 550, 000 people up to twenty-four years old are homeless over a year’s time.  A survey of shelters nationwide from 2011 to 2012 found that up to 40% of homeless young adults identified as LGBT, according to the study conducted by three human rights groups.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) conducted its annual homeless assessment and found that 22,000 youths were on the streets nationwide one night last year!

With gay celebrities coming out, it seems every day, and more GLBTQ being more open about their orientation, this “no holds barred approach” has had a direct effect on the homelessness state.  “”We see more and more homeless, “ according to Caitlin Ryan, Director of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University.  Ryan has seen more youth first disclosing their sexual orientation between the ages of seven and thirteen.

The Family Acceptance Project’s study found that GLBTQ kids are more than 8 x more likely to have attempted suicide, and nearly 6 x as likely to report high levels of depression, 3 x more likely to use illegal drugs and to be at high risk for HIV & sexually transmitted diseases.

A recent study by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Educational Network)shows that LGBT youth report bullying and harassment online 3 x greater than their non-LGBT peers.  They are also twice as likely to report being harassed via text message.

Odds Are Against LGBTQ

With the likelihood of a more difficult struggle for an LGBTQ child given the statistics, the child needs a secure loving home where he is loved unconditionally. If you are having trouble accepting your child’s sexual orientation, please remember:

  • ·      He/she is the same person you’ve always loved and deserves your unwavering support.
  • ·      With the outside world not always embracing his sexuality, he needs your home to be a haven from outsider’s prejudice.
  • ·      If you disapprove of his LGBTQ behavior, remember you can love the “sinner, but not the sin.”
  • ·      Do you really want to worry about the safety of your child living on the street, possibly contracting HIV, being mugged?
  • ·      Your rejection may sting forever.

What’s a Parent to Do?

  • ·      Keep your disapproval to yourself.  You can talk to a supportive friend, especially one who has been in similar circumstances.
  • ·      Attend a PFLAG (Parents for Lesbians and Gays) meeting in your area and receive support from parents who’ve “been there.”
  • ·      Seek therapy one-on-one to resolve issues that prevent you from accepting your child.
  • ·      Open up an on-going dialogue with your child.  Ask him how he/she feels about being “different.”  Tell him you want to understand.
  • ·      Get support on-line for parents of gay and lesbian children.