Cyber bullying is running rampant today and it is having a harmful effect on our young people. Bullying statistics reveal that cyber bullying is a serious problem among teenagers that is affecting them on a daily basis. Therefore, it is imperative that teenagers and adults become more aware in order to better fight the destructive effects it can create.
What is Cyber Bullying?
Cyber bullying refers to the use of electronic communication to bully someone, generally by sending messages that threaten and intimidate the person. The following are examples of cyber bullying:
- Sending cruel messages and/or threats of violence to a person’s e-mail account, social media profile, or cell phone.
- Spreading rumors online on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and through texts
- Posting damaging or threatening messages on social networking sites and/or web pages
- Stealing a person’s cell phone or social media information to break into their account and send harmful messages
- Pretending to be somebody else online to cause pain to another person
- Posting insulting and unfriendly pictures of a person and spreading them on the Internet and to other cell phones
- Texting and/or posting sexually suggestive pictures or messages about a person
The Dangers of Cyber Bullying
If not dealt with, cyber bullying can cause anxiety and depression in teenagers. Some adolescents may even be led to commit suicide. Another hazard of cyber bullying is that once pictures or messages circulate on the Internet, there is a possibility that they will never disappear. Therefore, if the picture or message ever happens to resurface at a later date, the pain experienced with may resurface as well.
For many cyber bullies, the thought of harassing others online is funny. They may think that since they are doing the bullying online or through a cell phone, that there aren’t any consequences. However there are consequences for cyber bullying. Cyber bullies and their parents could face legal charges, and also consequences at school that include: in-school suspension, suspension and in some cases even expulsion. Teenagers may thing that if they use a fake name then they will not get caught, but there are many ways that law enforcement can track someone who is engaged in cyber bullying.
Effects of Cyber Bullying
There is no winner when it comes to cyber bullying. As noted above, the bully could face consequences that will affect them for a long time. Also, though, are the damaging effects that teenagers experience due to cyber bullying.
According to The Cyberbullying Research Center:
- 97.5% of students they surveyed had been online the previous 30 days
- 63% have a cell phone
- 45% are on Facebook
- 42% are on Instagram
- As many as 20-25% of school aged youth have experienced cyber bullying at some point in their life.
- 16% of those who were surveyed admitted that they had cyber bullied others at some time in their lifetime.
- Teenage girls are just as likely, if not more likely than boys to experience cyber bullying
- Cyber bullying is related to low self-esteem, suicidal ideation, anger, frustration, and a variety of other emotional and psychological problems.
- Cyber bullying is related to other issues that include problems at schools, anti social behavior, substance use and delinquency.
Cyber bullying statistics from the National Crime Prevention Center:
- Only 10% of teenagers who are cyber bullied will inform their parents
- Fewer than 20% of the cyber bullying incidents are reported to law enforcement
- Only 15% of parents are knowledgeable about their kids’ social networking habits, and how their behavior can lead to cyber bullying
- 1 in 10 adolescents have had embarrassing or harmful pictures taken of themselves without their consent, using cell phone cameras
What parents and teens can do to help reduce cyber bullying
- Talk to teens about cyber bullying, teaching them that it is wrong and can have serious consequences.
- Have expectations for your teenagers that they may not sent rude or hurtful messages, or suggestive pictures or messages, even if another person started. If they do, explain to them that they will lose their cell phone and Internet privileges.
- Encourage teenagers to inform an adult if cyber bullying is occurring. If they are the ones being bullied, assure them that you will do everything in your power to help them
- Teenagers should keep cyber bullying messages for proof that the cyber bullying is occurring. Parents should try to get in contact with the parents of the cyber bully about the messages. Also, if the victim and the bully attend the same school, parents of the victim should inform the administrator and school resource officer.
- Teenagers should block the person sending messages from their social media accounts. Also, most cell phone providers now have the option of blocking cell phone numbers.
- Teens should not accept anyone they do not know as their friend on social media sites.
- Teens should not share their passwords with anyone except their parents.
- Parents should teach their teens that they should not share personal information online or through their cell phone that they would not want to be made public.
- Parents should establish a relationship with their teenager where they are comfortable enough to speak to them and trust them with situations that are happening in their life.
- If teens do not want to talk, do not give up. Keep asking questions. Keep showing them that you care and not just with your words, but also with your actions. Be there!
Several of A.C's programs address cyber bullying for both students and adults. He is happy to work with you to customize a program that suits your particular needs.