Cyber Bullying Cases are Both Simple to Cause and Extremely Damaging to Victims
The act of cyber bullying is particularly problematic because, thanks to the Internet, it provides a perpetrator a level of anonymity. So, unlike traditional bullying with requires identification and person-to-person confrontation, a cyber-bully can actually cause a lot of damage and pain from a distance without ever actually being known by name.
The number of cyber bullying cases has grown over the last few years particularly due to the power and reach of social media. Because this particular format of the Internet allows the posting and sharing of information, photos, comments, and imagery to a broad audience, it is an ideal tool for a bully to post harmful information about a victim. In many cases cyber bullying cases often involve not just personal and petty comments, they also involve compromising photos and images that can have serious emotional impact on the bullied party.
Cyber bullying can be tracked, despite the popular myth that a poster is hidden by a fake name and account. It takes a lot of effort, however, and cooperation from technology companies that run social media forums and host such conversations. When all the parties are engaged, the bully can not only be identified, the information can be used to support disciplining the party, which is increasingly being treated as a criminal matter.
Unfortunately, such response has often come after the bullying harm has reached a shocking level. In many cases cyber bully victims suffer from depression to the point of being suicidal, separation from others, isolation, fear, emotional pain, loss of self-confidence, and more. These are all symptoms of having one’s identity and self-worth being destroyed by a pattern of mental attacks that can’t seem to be stopped.
Cyber bully victims will frequently keep their attack quiet from parents and others as well. The level of embarrassment involved can be more powerful than the logic in asking for help. Children who have Internet access will be particularly fearful of telling parents because they assume a parent will immediately cut off the source of the problem, barring access to the Internet. Unfortunately, this kind of approach seems easy but it is ineffective. The cyber bullying can continue and the child victim gets punished at home unnecessarily.
A better approach is for parents to monitor their child’s Internet use and accounts regularly from the start. When cyber bullying does occur a parent can focus on collecting identification information and then working with a school to shut down the behavior. In many cases, school officials can narrow down and identify the cyber bully fairly quickly because of the limited class population, whom a victim knows, and key factors the cyber bully gives away in comments and images. Then the school can confront the bully and his or her parents on the matter. If such actions are taken, many bully cases will stop such behavior in a first meeting. Where it continues, then stronger actions can be taken, including involving law enforcement.
The long-term effects of damage in cyber bullying cases are often the same as regular bullying. Victims who could not find support or resolution often suffer from a lifetime of damaged self-confidence and questioning their worth in groups and the workplace. They are also often fearful of groups, particularly where there is a popular subject that resembles the people who were bullies in school. And, in extreme cases, cyber bullying has been responsible for both driving victims to harming themselves as well as encouraging group attacks on an individual, even in person. So it is not a game or harmless activity, as cyber bullying is often described at first, usually by the perpetrator.
There is no question that the Internet brings valuable tools to people and the educational arena. However, it is a tool that can be used for good and bad. Cyber bullying is an outgrowth of Internet use that manifests from bad behavior attacking the weaknesses of another person, and the Internet provides the ready tool. Efforts have to be made on a regular basis in school and the workplace that such behavior will not be tolerated, and perpetrators will be disciplined seriously. Victims also need to be supported emotionally and on an ongoing basis to make sure their injuries do not worsen or grow mentally. Otherwise, a parent could face a worst-case scenario by surprise where a victim child opts to self harm to stop the pain.
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