Has the world gotten meaner? Sometimes it might seem so when you watch the news nowadays. Not only are there more incidents of cyber bullying but school shootings, fights, violence, terroristic threatening, and many other violent crimes seem to be sprouting up too.
According to some sources, and due to the fact that the violent crime rate among youth has gone up at approximately the same time as incidents of cyber bullying, one can only conclude that t hey are somewhat related. We do know that kids who are ‘bulled’ often become some of those school shooters. We also know that the bullies are often habitual, repeat offenders in the criminal justice system after leaving school if they have been on record as bullies in the school system.
Schools need tougher penalties for bullying offenses and things should be dealt with according to the seriousness of the offense. Local, state, and federal laws should also be stricter so that people realize that there is a fine line between malicious bullying and criminal acts of violence. One thing you can do to take an active part in this is to write to your legislators and report any incidents of bullying on any level to your local authorities.
One of the problems with cyber bullying and why it is so hard to control is the fact that it takes on so many different forms. It is not as simple as someone walking up to your child on the playground and taking away their sandwich or books. It is an ultimate control technique, designed to create terror in the minds of the victims and coerce them to do things they feel uncomfortable with or to feel intimidated. This is similar to traditional “real world” bullying. But the difference is the victims of cyber bullying feel hopeless due to the approach of cyber bullying (an unknown assailant) and often the level of damage that results from cyber bullying has much further reaching consequences than traditional bullying. Anonymous text messages, social media flaming, hate emails, smear campaigns, and other methods all start small but grow incremently over time to uncontrollable levels. The psychological harm done by just a simple text message that carries negative insults and innuendos can do damage that can last for years.
If you have never heard of this, you need to know about it now. It was on the news awhile back after a rash of bullying reports came out after the release of a new app called “Yik Yak.” Seemingly a harmless social media app for youngsters, the app was intended to be for college students, to allow them to connect to their local friends and students online. But younger kids in high school and middle school got a hold of the app, and started using it to target specific kids and groups they didn’t like. Some kids have been getting on the app and creating false user names and fake identities and using the app to terrorize kids. The biggest problem with it is due to the fact that it involves people all within a central geographical location. This causes increased danger to local students and people in the online chat rooms due to the fact that many of them know where the person is in real life.
In many incidents of cyber bullying, while alarming and bothersome, the victim does not often feel any real danger from the person as long as they can remain anonymous in chats and online conversations. They do not feel any physical threat from such individuals as long as they are located a long distance away. But there is an inherent sense of danger when the people they are chatting with who have bullied them are located in the same town, and rightfully so. This was the primary problem with the Yik Yak cyberbullying situation as to why it was considered so dangerous.
All cyber bullying is bad. It creates fear in the heart of those who are bullied and keeps them from being able to enjoy life. Some have even committed suicide due to the extreme humiliation such cyber bullying causes. When people ask “why is cyber bullying a problem?” it often bothers me because I think what they are saying is that too big a deal is made about it. What do you think?
The reason that we should answer this question: “why is cyber bullying a problem?” is because it IS such a problem. If young kids, who had their whole futures ahead of them, will point a gun to their heads, jump off a bridge, kill themselves or others, or take a gun in their hands and head to some school yard, then it IS a problem! Sometimes we tend to try to play down something that is serious because we do not want to admit that it is serious. but cyber bullying is a big issue because it is terrorizing our children. So, as Harry Reasoner once put it, “If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem!”
If you want to know what to do about cyber bullying, here are five steps you can take to protect yourself and your family today to prevent such atrocities:
Why is cyber bullying a problem? When people ask that, what do you say? A good answer is: “Because of the damage it does and the lasting effect on young impressionable minds.” There are many bullying statistics we could go into here, but suffice it to say that criminal minds begin at school. Kids who bully become violent offenders many times. That’s the truth. Look it up for yourself and teach your kids to respect others at an early age. Teach your kids also to report every incident of bullying, whether it is real bullying in the real world or bullying online.
One final point to make that I have tried to get across as a school counselor is that when these bullying behaviors occur at school, it is somewhat tolerated (too much) and kids are given a chance to improve and grow from the experience. But in the real world, it would be called by other names, like “Harassment, terroristic threatening, stalking, defamation….” Remember the law takes over when the school campus ends. Teach kids that if it doesn’t occur at school, it falls into the hands of the law.