Archive | October 2014

Cyber Bullying

Once considered a “rite of passage,” bullying is now viewed as a disturbing form of abuse. In many cases, bullying has caused long-term emotional damage to children and their families, and in some instances, even death. According to the iSAFE foundation, “over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying.”

Cyber bullying, a recent phenomenon that has coincided with the growing use of Internet and mobile devices, has tragic consequences for children, their families and communities across the world. As cyber bullying has become more common, it is important for parents to understand both its nature and how to be more hands-on when it comes to prevention.

What is Cyber Bullying? defines cyber bullying as “when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. It has to have a minor on both sides, or at least have been instigated by a minor against another minor.”

Cyber bullying can come in many forms, including:

  • Sending mean messages or threats to a person’s email account or cell phone
  • Spreading rumors online or through text messages
  • Posting hurtful or threatening messages on social networking sites or web pages
  • Stealing a person’s account information to break into an online account, and send damaging messages
  • Pretending to be someone else online to hurt another person
  • Taking unflattering pictures of a person and spreading them through cell phones or the Internet
  • Sexting, or circulating sexually suggestive pictures or messages about a person

Insurance and Cyber Bullying: Protection for Parents

Parents whose children have been negatively affected by cyber bullying have recently started taking action, including suing the parents of their child’s bullies for personal injury. Usually unaware of the issue until after the fact, the parents facing lawsuits are unprepared both emotionally and financially. Most standard homeowners insurance policies do not cover personal injury, and court costs can extend well into the millions, depending on the extent of harm done.

Coverage for personal injuries like slander and libel may be covered by most homeowners policies, but this often requires attaching a special endorsement. But these policies also typically cover liability claims that involve accidental damage, specifically excluding losses that are “expected or intended.” That means if harm is intended—often true in the case of cyber bullying—the policy may not provide coverage. And while some umbrella policies might provide broader coverage, they also often exclude deliberate acts to harm others.

What You Can Do: Taking Preventative Steps

In addition to talking with your children about cyber bullying and offering advice on handling conflict take the following preventative measures to help prevent cyber bullying:

  • Keep your home computer in a busy area of your house.
  • Set up email and chat accounts with your children. Make sure you know their screen names and passwords, and check to be certain they don’t include any personal information in their online profiles.
  • Regularly review your child’s instant messenger “buddy list” with them. Ask who each person is and how your child knows him or her.
  • Print this list of acronyms that are commonly used in instant messenger and chat rooms and post it by your computer.
  • Discuss cyber bullying with your children and ask if they have ever experienced it or seen it happen to someone.
  • Explain that you won’t blame your children if they are cyber bullied. In particular, emphasize that you won’t take away their computer privileges—this is the main reason kids don’t confide in adults when they are cyber bullied.



Dangers of Leaves on the Road

fall-road-leavesWhen leaves accumulate on the roadway and become wet, they can get extremely slippery, making the driving conditions similar to driving on ice. If the temperature drops below freezing, the wet leaves will freeze and turn into dangerous icy leaves on the roadway. Besides reducing the car’s traction, causing skidding and the possibility of losing control of the vehicle, leaves often cover the painted road markings, making it difficult to know the locations of the lanes.

  • Slow down if you are driving on a road covered with leaves, especially when driving around turns.
  • Allow yourself plenty of room to stop in an emergency. Keep a greater distance between you and the car in front of you.
  • Leaves make it difficult to see potholes and bumps in the road.
  • A pile of leaves raked to the side of the road is an inviting place to a child. Children enjoy jumping into the leaf piles or burrowing down into them and hiding. Never drive through a leaf pile. Use caution going around turns and where children are playing.
  • Keep your windshield leaf free to avoid wet leaves getting stuck under the windshield wiper blades.
  • In order to avoid the possibility of a fire hazard from the exhaust system or catalytic converter, never park your vehicle over a pile of leaves .