Times have certainly changed since I was a kid.

I grew up in the '80s and we did a whole lot of things differently back then. We played outside, we had one phone line and if you were on it taking to your friends, it was only a matter of time before someone else would pick up an extension and then say "I need to use the phone!".  Back then there were winners and losers and not everyone received a trophy for participating.

Even our bullying was different back then.

Back then if you decided to bully someone, you had to be prepared to take a punch to the nose.  There was no hiding behind a screen or using fake names online.  While I certainly don't condone or encourage bullying, dare I say there was more honor in bullying back then than compared to now.

Now days, you have kids that are constantly coming under attack. They go to school and they get bullied.  They come home, get online, and get bullied. It's a nonending cycle and it is certainly affecting the youth of our country.

So what about here in Montana?  How do we stack up compared to other states when it comes to online bullying?

According to statista.com, in 2019 Montana ranked in the Top 10 for states with the highest online bullying rates among students in grades 9th through 12th. In fact, according to the report, 17.9 percent of Montana High School kids claimed that they were bullied online during the 2018-2019 school year.

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So what is going on in Montana?  What is happening that almost 20 percent of our High School aged kids are being bullied online? Is this a real concern? Should we be doing something about it?

First, I think it's a real problem. I think so much of our time is spent behind a screen and because of that, often there aren't a lot of consequences for our actions. Because so much of what we do is based on technology (I've actually watched teenagers be in the same room and instead of talking, they text each other) I think we've lost a little bit of our civility. We've simply either forgotten how to or don't care about being nice.

Is this just how it is now, dare I say the "new normal", or can we change direction? Who's responsibility is it to lead the change?  Is it the teachers at school? The parents at home? Does it need to be a combination of both?

While I'm sure that this article will receive a few comments that aren't so nice, I do think it's a conversation that we need to be having with each other.  When do we say enough is enough when it comes to the online treatment of our kids here in Montana?

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