Cyberbullying is the deliberate use of the internet or any form of technology to harass, threaten or humiliate another person. This can be social networking sites, texting, online videos or photos, etc. But it is used to harm another person in a psychological way, and can lead to physical bullying.
Cyberbullying can take many forms. It can be an individual, or group, it can be pictures taken that are spread quickly throughout the school, Facebook or blogs. Texts or instant message. Cyberbullying has also become a form of entertainment for school children. Videos of physical attacks are recorded and then dispersed throughout the school and the internet. This has become a recent issue for schools, and is something that parents and teachers understand what is going on.
Parents here is a video to better understand the scope of bullying, and how you can become involved:
Who is affected by cyberbullying?
All ages are involved in cyberbullying. However, the people that are usually harassed are from ages 9 to 14. Cyberbullying is also on the rise in the young community, and young girls are showing a steady increase in the number of victims and in becoming the assailant
The Cyberbully research center found that:
* About half of young people have experienced some form of cyber bullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly
* Cyber bullying affects all races
*1 in 10 adolescents or teens have had embarrassing or damaging pictures taken of themselves without their permission, often using cell phone cameras
* About 1 in 5 teens have posted or sent sexually suggestive or nude pictures of themselves to others
these are from:
Why is this something parents need to watch out for?
Cyberbullying attacks the victim psychologically. People look at bullying as a physical attack on another. However, bullying includes any form of harassment or threat. In the case of cyberbullying the attack can happen at any time or place. It can lead to public humiliation once at school.
The bully can also join other people online to target one person and find protection in others. Cyberbullying is usually not just one person attacking another. It usually involves multiple people either participating or knowing about the harassment. It can involve the whole school or the be the next media sensation quickly. In the study by Pew Internet Research Center: 66% of teens who have witnessed online cruelty have also witnessed others joining; 21% say they have also joined in the harassment. This is an issue that is becoming larger and more dangerous.
Technology is a great source for daily activity, and it can be used at any time or place by anyone. But it is also not policed well. Because this is the case the internet has a sense of anonymity. Bullies feel free to harass or threaten others because they are shielded by the internet.
Often times the victim does not know how to stop the harassment or how to remove any negative comments about themselves. The bullied child often times does not want to involve parents or adults. This is because they are worried that they will have their phones removed or that they will be bullied more.
The reason that parents and schools need to make cyberbullying and issue is because of the affects that it causes the child. Children feel sad, frightened, angry, and embarrassed by the bullying. Studies show that in middle school students that are cyberbullied show higher rates on a suicidal ideation scale. This can be seen in the news when cases of children that are bullied have harmed themselves. There are countless victims to cyberbullying and we need to understand their stories. One such case is that of Ryan. Ryan committed suicide in 2003 because he was bullied online and in school for years. He felt tormented and that there was no way to make it stop. Since it was online people felt like it should be ignored. However, this bullying affected Ryan in a deep way, and in every part of his day. The warning signs were there but people did not know how to respond to the situation. You can read his full story, and how to get involved on the website that his parents created: http://familyinternet.about.com.
There has been a steady increase in the number of people that are bullied online. But there are also an increase in victims that are harming themselves because they are perpetually bullied. Maybe you have heard of the case of Tyler Clementi in the news. He was an adult male at a university that had been harassed online by other students and later committed suicide. This was an adult who was greatly affected by this harassment. However, think about the children that struggle each day with harassment at school and after school online. Because most likely if your child is being bullied online it follows them to school the next day. We need to get a handle on the issues that our children live with.
As parents we need to learn about the warning signs of cyberbullying, and understand the ramifications of cyberbullying.
Here is a video about the rise of self abuse because of cyberbullying:
So what are the signs that your child is being bullied?
Some of the signs that your child is being bullied is their activities in and outside of school. Has your child skipped school frequently or has low grades? This is a sign that your child is being bullied. Avoiding school work or school might be their way of escaping or avoiding more bullying. Another sign is a change in friends or drug and alcohol use. Children that are bullied have lower self esteem, and they feel often times that the bullying will never stop. Finding new friends or escaping through drugs and alcohol might be an outlet to those fears and feelings.
What can parents do to prevent and stop bullying?
Technology is an important function in your child's life for school and social reasons. But there are ways to keep yourself and your child safe while on the internet.
Here are some quick tips:
*Explain the rules that you have for online usage. 80% of students said that there was no rules for online in their homes. Make sure your child understands the rules.
* What sites are your children using, and do you know who they talk to online?
* Let your children know that it is important that as a parent you want to be involved in their lives online and offline. This means that you will monitor their online use. This can be with filters or random checks on their computers or phones
* Ask your child for the passwords to their media sites. BUT only use when you think there is a extreme situation
*Explain that if they are bullied online to talk to you, and to never retaliate. Because this can often times make things worse
*Understand that you can block bullies. You can block members on sites or phones. 70% of bullied students said that this was the best way to prevent further bullying.
*Get the school or law enforcement involved in any threaten or harassment cases. Fewer than 1 in 5 cases are reported each year. Many states now have laws on the books about cyberbullying, and schools are becoming more involved.
* Try to explain things from the bully's side to your child. Those that bully often times have low selfesteem or have problems with bullying themselves.
One of the biggest tips is having open communication with your child. Some studies show that only 11% of people that are bullied talk to their parents about the issue. Let your child know that you are open to anything they are scared or nervous about. Also, often times children are worried that if they report bullying they will have their computer taken away. Let them know that this will not happen, but that open communication between you and your children is important to you.
For more information about bullying and to understand how you can become involved here are some websites : http://www.cyberbullying.us/, www.stopcyberbullying.org
Understanding what cyberbullying can be the first step to getting help for your child.
Talk about the issue with fellow parents, the school, and your child. Talking about the issue is important, and so is reaching out for help.
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