Okay, I’m in the middle of this week’s Maclean’s and there’s a big article about cyberbullying. This is an online phenomenon among school-aged children, bullying others via email, instant messaging or text messaging on cell phones. First of all, I can’t believe this happens. Well, I guess I can, but I mean, what happened to going outside and playing? Even when I started getting bullied — I can’t even really call it “bullied” — when I fell out of favour with people who had been my friends, I simply started hanging out more with other friends. The old friends found it humourous to make prank phone calls to my house, but we were kids, that’s what happens. I know it wasn’t really personal. And eventually, we grew up … although we still don’t talk, and I never intend to … I can really hold a grudge.

But do kids have absolutely nothing better to do than send nasty emails to other kids? Really, go to the playground and push other kids down, steal their bikes, don’t let them play kickball with you, but email, come on. And to those being bullied, dish it back. Obviously, these people aren’t comfortable abusing you in public, so you’re pretty safe. Or just ignore them, the attacks aren’t really personal.

And either way, if you’re being bullied, regardless of physically or mentally, online or in public, let your parents know. And parents, don’t take away the computer or cell phone, the kids live on these things. Teach them to defend themselves or ignore it … if they’re becoming depressed, talk to them, reinforce their self-confidence. If it gets out-of-hand, like death threats or actual physical intimidation, call the police.

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