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My kiddo's response to text that said, "You're dead."

4
heidilynnrussell
Wanted to share this, because I thought maybe some other kids out there may have received texts like this:

Yesterday morning as my kiddo and I were walking to his school bus stop, his cell phone chimed. It was a text from one of his former classmates at his former school. Last month, he moved from a private school to a public school due to ongoing harassment, among some other issues. He really loves his new school and is making a lot of new friends.

But yesterday morning, when he pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and looked at it, his brow furrowed.

"What is it?" I asked.

He hesitated.

"It says, 'You're dead.'"

We stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, absorbing this.

I asked who it was from, and it was from a boy who had made up a lie about my child last spring and had been circulating it around the private school. This lie led to the harassment he experienced in September and October.

He looked at me and said, "I don't know what to say to that."

Then he smiled and started typing into his phone.

"What are you writing back to him?"

He said, "I wrote, 'I may be dead, but at least I'm not sitting in history class like you are this morning. And I'm surrounded by cute girls.'"

We walked the rest of the way to the school bus with big smiles on our faces.
2
Reflective_Joy
HEIDILYNNRUSSELL: Thanks for sharing! I am so sorry to hear your son had to receive such an awful text. But sounds like he handled it quite well. That made me chuckle a bit! I am glad he had you there for support as well.

But just a friendly reminder to anyone who may receive something like this, always save it ( screen save abusive texts, emails or chats) and inform an adult you trust if you feel unsafe or that the communication has reached a point where it is abusive, coercive and continuous.

Sometimes an unkind text or message may be a one off and silence may be your best defensive. If ever you are unsure how to respond, you can always share your situation on the forum where awesome helpful parents ( like Heidi here!) teachers, advisors and Cybersmilers can offer their two cents. Alternatively, you can email Cybersmile directly for confidential support @ [email protected]
1
heidilynnrussell

In reply to *Reflective_Joy*

Thanks, Reflective Joy -- those tips are great. I think it was a "lucky thing" that I happened to be WITH my kid when that text came into his cell phone.

Part of the reason he was able to laugh it off easily was that the person who sent it to him is no longer in his daily life. But I agree with Reflective Joy, that if you encounter this type of a text message, there are different responses you can have -- and when in doubt, it's always great to consult a trusted adult for "next steps."

I think with my kid's case, the reason he received the text was that he is no longer "available" to be a punching bag for these kids at the other school. So the only thing this boy could do to get at him was to send a text message. All other avenues for reaching him are now gone.

Laughing it off and sending back a quip like that gave him a sense that it wasn't so "serious" and took the sting out of the words. But Reflective Joy is right that if you feel that a text could be a more serious "threat," think through all of your responses carefully and get advice from someone who can help you.

As I said, it was a good thing that I happened to be with him when he got the message. He and I have a very close relationship where he feels free to share these types of things with me. But if your relationship with your mom or dad isn't like that, please don't try to go it alone. There are people who will support you. Whatever you do, don't do it by yourself. Everyone needs someone in their corner, so make sure you tell someone who can guide you through it.

XO
1
Mac
Good advice on a serious issue, thanks guys. Lots to think about here, responding effectively, or not responding at all, the support available for the person receiving the threat, and who to have 'in your corner' etc.
With threats like this, being delivered in school time, on school premises, there could be an opportunity to inform the school as well. In some cases where there are threats like this, even the police could be involved as well.
In this case Heidi, your boy handled it really well and sounds like he has moved on from a bad experience. Well done!! :))
2
heidilynnrussell

In reply to Mac

Thanks, Mac,
At the time when it happened, it was funny, because he took it in stride.
But in hindsight, I think that if the other child who texted him had been at his *current* school, I would have not been so glib about it.
I know this other kid and also know he's not much of a threat ... I also am pretty sure that this was just an attempt to get a reaction.
But I think this goes back to the bottom line, which is that if a kid receives a text like this, it really is important for them not to keep it to themselves. An adult can help them dissect how much action to take. It also helped my kid for me to be there to talk about it, which takes away the "fear" factor.
The sad thing is that I fear that most kids don't tell their parents about these things. It is so important that you do -- or if you're afraid your parents won't take it seriously, then do find an adult who will give you the support that you need. I don't think this can be stressed enough.
Thanks again for your comment! :-)
2
ISmitran
Bravo to your son's response ,Heidi , that was very clever answer ,he could respond to that former classmate with more hurtfull messages but he decided to be wiser and tell him :yeah,maybe it's true i'm dead but i'm having more fun than you are,brilliant.many kids wouldn't know how to handle situation like this,but he did. he is so small but already very wise like he is all grown up . he probably inherited his mother's intelligence . :)
2
Koda
i have had a random text message with such negative from a random person and was harrasing me glad i was allowed to change number wasnt nice from them. was so random why ii have no idea. glad he was able to make a positive oout of it.
2
heidilynnrussell

In reply to ISmitran

Thanks, Ismitran. He has had to learn how to deal with cruel kids for a while, unfortunately. But I'm proud of him for his attitude.
The interesting thing about him is that people with Asperger's are not supposed to display a great deal of empathy, according to anything you read about it. But he is extremely empathetic and worries about other people's feelings a LOT. So I think this also helps him to look out for kids who may need a friend, too.
I work hard so that he maintains a strong self-image regardless of what other kids say or do, so hopefully by the time he reaches adulthood things like this will be a faint memory, if a memory at all. :-)
0
heidilynnrussell

In reply to Koda

Oh Koda, I am sorry to hear that you had a similar thing happen to you. Changing your number was a good idea if it gave you peace of mind, but I hate it that the person harassed you to the point where that was necessary. It makes me sad. Anytime you need some support, feel free to reach out to me! XO
2
dolphintiger12
That is the best way to reply to a text or ignore it but I'm glad your son is getting on so well and making new friends! I will take this as advice for the future! =)
1
heidilynnrussell

In reply to dolphintiger12

Hi Dolphintiger12, thanks for your reply, and it's nice to see you here again.
I think one thing that helps in a situation like that is to focus on the people that are positive and not give the person who is harassing you any "power" by *caring* about what they're saying. It may be why my kiddo was able to handle it in that way -- he no longer cared, because he was in a new environment, with positive interactions.
Sometimes that's not possible, though, and maybe the person harassing you is in your life. In that case, I really do recommend that you take the situation to an adult who you trust, whether it's a parent or a trusted friend, because they can provide insight that you may not have as a kid. It always helps to talk it out.
Recently I had one situation myself that jarred me a little, but the way I took the "power" back was advising the person not to contact me again before blocking their access to me on all social media sites and via email.
The bottom line is that they feed off of your reaction, and by not giving them any response, you douse their fire, if that makes any sense. :-)
Hope you had a good holiday, and thanks for your reply!