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Social distancing doesn’t end bullying, increases need for parents to communicate

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Posted at 7:00 AM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 18:41:23-04

CLEVELAND — Bullying is a common piece of everyday life for many children. Experts say even though students are no longer going to school because of coronavirus social distancing guidelines, bullying is still increasing.

“Cyber-bullying in this digital world is on the increase,” said Navigate360 CEO Jean-Paul Guilbault.

Navigate360 was formed after Alice Training, NaviGate Prepared, and SafePlans combined forces to create one, large emergency preparedness brand.

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Navigate360 was formed after combining three emergency preparedness brands into one group focusing on emergency prevention.

Navigate360 is working with schools in Ohio and across the country to better identify which students might need help and step in.

Guilbault says bullying has followed students home during Stay at Home orders.

“It doesn’t go away because physical distancing is changing,” said Guilbault.

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Before coronavirus social distancing guidelines, students used technology in class to complement learning. Now, it is one of the only options to connect with teachers and classmates.

Video conference classrooms still carry the potential for one student to bully another, in addition to all the other social media platforms where bored students and parents find themselves scrolling through.

“That becomes even riskier for kids because these digital devices are hard to put down,” said Guilbault.

“Once it’s out there on the internet, it stays,” said Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine Clinical Associate Professor Dr. Jane Timmons-Mitchell.

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Empty classrooms doesn't mean bullying has stopped.

Dr. Timmons-Mitchell says the responsibility falls on parents to help their kids get through cyber-bullying during social distancing procedures.

“Part of the difficulty with that is that parents are stressed with 20 new roles that they have to assume,” said Dr. Timmons-Mitchell.

She says parents have already been weighed down with keeping their own careers afloat during uncertain times, while now having to become teachers and principals.

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Schools can often be helpful for students who are getting bullied. During the coronavirus outbreak, those resources might be harder for families to access.

Normally, school employees would be able to help parents and students navigate a bullying situation, potentially even leaning on resources like Navigate360.

That’s less of an option while Americans continue too social distance.

“It’s probably harder to access the school-based resources now,” said Dr. Timmons-Mitchell.

In the meantime, if you or someone you know needs help, you can access these resources:
The National suicide lifeline at 1-800-363-8255
Frontline Services at 216-623-6555.


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