CYBER BULLYING- A CLASS OF IT’S OWN
A new form of social bullying has started to occur in the twenty first century, cyber bullying. It is the most malicious in every sense of the word.
We can look at bullying as aggressive and intentional behavior to control someone physically, mentally or emotionally. But in today’s age, bullying has also gone high-tech in what we call CYBER BULLYING. The physical assault has been replaced by a 24/7 online personal attack using technology such as mobile phones and computers. This involves the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group to hurt others.
Many students are using the following cyber bullying methods to humiliate other people:
1. Text messaging
2. Picture/video clip bullying via mobile phone cameras
3. Phone call via mobile phones
4. E-mail bullying
5. Chat-room bullying
6. Bullying through instant messaging (IM)
7. Bullying via websites
8. Bullying on Facebook
9. Mean and hurtful comments on Twitter
What about online hate groups? It’s unfortunate, but some students start “I hate so and so” groups. They go onto Facebook (for example) and create a new group called I hate ‘Suzy G’ and then they forward it off to all the students in their school. The students start writing on the wall on how much they hate ‘Suzy G’. If you or your child ever sees an ‘I hate so and so group’, report it immediately to Facebook. Facebook takes down these groups immediately and it’s 100% anonymous. Contact them for further details.
No longer can parents count on seeing the physical signs of bullying—a black eye, torn clothes or depression. Since nothing is visible outside, the damage done by cyber bullies can be considerably more painful.
One thing is for certain that regardless of whether the bullying is physical, verbal and now cyber; the signs are all usually the same and usually include:
- Low self esteem
Cyber Bullying Statistics
- 42% of kids have been bullied while they were online.
- 35% of kids have been threatened online.
- 21% of kids have received mean or threatening online messages.
- 58% of kids admit someone has said mean or hurtful things to them online.
- 53% of kids admit having said something mean or hurtful to another person online.
- 58% have not told their parents or an adult about something mean or hurtful that happened to them online.
What can parents do to prevent Cyber Bullying?
- Try to keep the computer in an open area of your home. The only way to make sure your child doesn’t end up the victim of cyber bullying is to be aware of what your child is doing online. As a suggestion, we offer a software program that will alert the parent if certain bullying or aggressive words or phrases are written on your child’s Facebook account. (go to reportbullying.com for more information)
- To protect your child on Facebook (as an example) I would suggest that you open up your own account. (Note: check with Facebook on the minimum age to sign up/ at the time of this book it was 14). Next, ask your son or daughter to join up as a friend. This way you can see what is written on their wall. With Facebook, you also use private messages. Have access to your child’s username and password so you can see what is written in their private messages.
You may feel like these actions show you do not trust your child, but always remember WHY it’s being done? As parents, it is our responsibility to nurture and protect our children; therefore this is the right thing to do.
- Teach your children how to protect themselves in case of cyber bullying– many incidents occur in the comfort of the child’s bedroom where no bystanders are present. The messages going back and forth are done privately, so it is important that kids are taught how to protect themselves. Some of the pointers that the kids need to be aware of:
- Stop and don’t reply to bullies (bullies love attention)
- Copy the message (adults need to see proof)
- Tell an adult
According to our Reportbullying.com surveys, the number one reason kids do not tell their parents about cyber bullying is because they fear their mom or dad will take the computer away. Parents should have a good talk with their child and re-assure them that it is ALWAYS OKAY to speak up.
This is the type of change we need- parents need to be more involved in what their children are doing by teaching them the right thing to do.
In the real world, a bully usually is bigger, stronger or more popular than other kids to be able to inflict any real damage, but online, any person can play the role of “cyber bully” and demean your child with threats, taunts and harsh words.
The Law and the Internet
Generally, if it’s a crime in the real world, it’s a crime on the Internet
¡ Possession/distribution of passwords
-Using copyright information
-Threatening or Harassing
What can schools do about cyber bullying?
When schools get involved in disciplining the student for cyber bullying actions that took place off campus or off school property they often get sued for exceeding their authority and violating the student’s right to free speech.
To get around this constitutional problem, add a provision to the school’s policy reserving the right to discipline the student for actions taken off the school property if these actions adversely affect the safety and well-being of students while in school.
This makes it a contractual – not a constitutional issue.
If any school is looking for an online report cyber bullying program Reportbullying.com offers this service for schools with all student reports going directly to their counselor.
 iSafe, Cyber Bullying: Statistics and Tips, www.isafe.org/outreach/media/media_cyber_bullying (June 10, 2012)