The Internet is great. With the world at our fingertips, it allows anyone to see, communicate with, and interact with millions of people.
So, what's the catch?
Despite the infinite opportunities that await us on the web, there are dangers that lurk in the shadows. And no one is more vulnerable than our children. Bullies and trolls have taken to cyberspace to harass and abuse people. There's no doubt that it's affecting our children. According to the U.S. Department of Justice:
"160,000 kids per day do not attend school for fear of being bullied."
What can we do?
As much of a threat cyber bullying is to children and teens across the country, there are measures we can take as parents, peers, and teachers to prevent and reduce it from happening.
We're going to discuss cyberbullying in this guide. We'll start with defining what cyberbullying is, outline some facts and statistics, examine its relationship with the law, and describe the effects it can have on its victims. From there, we'll walk you through the steps you can take to prevent cyberbullying, how to properly report it, and offer a wealth of additional resources beyond the scope of this guide you should read.
In This Guide
What is Cyberbullying?
The definition of a bully is someone who uses physical strength or manipulation to outright harm or intimidates victims. Typically, the effect of bullying is almost certainly negative on the victim.
Now, let's take a moment to define cyberbully. After all, it's important to define cyberbully so you can fully understand the roots of the term.
Cyberbullying happens over electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets, and laptop computers. Such bullying messages are delivered via an e-mail account, text messages, live chat, chat rooms, websites and social media sites. Mean messages, rumors or posts on social networks, embarrassing photos, videos, fake posts and profiles all are examples of cyberbullying.
With easier access to computers and mobile phones, bullies are shifting online to say mean or hurtful messages, spread rumors, post embarrassing or fake photos or video, and more. Although cyberbullying may not be as obvious as its physical alternative, the effects can be just as dangerous to the long-term development of a child.
Cyberbullying has become the subject of many researchers, including Dr. Sameer Hinduja, who known for his groundbreaking work on both cyberbullying and safe social media use. Dr. Sameer Hinduja is currently providing training to schools, youth organizations, parents, and kids on how to handle cyberbullying.
It's Not Always Children
Though cyber bullies are likely to peers that are of similar of age to the victim, that may not always be the case. Take, for instance, Megan Meier, a young 13-year-old girl who was cyberbullied by adults - specifically parents of a former girlfriend of Megan's - posing as a 16-year-old boy named Josh Evans. Horrifically, Megan Meier committed suicide due to an onslaught of insults and shaming - typically aggressive behavior - and the family wasn't charged.