Cyberbullying is a type of bullying that takes place on electronic devices, such as computers, tablets, video games systems, and cellphones. It involves posting or sending images or text design to embarrass, torment, or hurt another individual. With the prevalence of technology in the lives of children and teens today, it’s important that Canadian parents get the facts on cyber bullying. Since cyberbullying can happen at any time, it can be even more damaging than in-person bullying. Here is a closer look at cyber bullying facts, examples of electronic bullying, and information on what to do if your child is a victim of online bullying.
Statistics and Facts about Cyber Bullying
Cyberbullying has become a big problem in Canada, and many studies show that bullies online target children and teens that use electronic devices. The following statistics and facts about cyber bullying will give you a better picture at how big this problem has become for Canadian teens and children.
- According to StopABully.ca, one out of every five teens in Canada have at least witness bullying online.
- A survey done by Kids Help Phone found that 70% of teens between 13-15 years old have been bullied online. The survey also found that 44% of teens survived have bullied another person online at least one time.
- DefinetheLine.ca notes that Canadian teachers have ranked cyberbullying as an issue of significant concern.
- A survey done by the Nova Scotia Cyberbullying Task Force found that 75% of individuals surveyed believed that bullying is a big problem.
- The Canadian Institutes of Health Research report that girls are more likely than boys to deal with cyber bullying online.
- The most popular form of cyberbullying reported by victims is aggressive or threatening instant messages or emails.
- Statistics Canada reports that kids and teens that use chat services and social networking sites are twice as likely to become victims of online bullying.
- In most cases, cyber bullying facts show that children are generally bullied online by someone they know.
Online Bullying and the Increased Risk of Suicide
Cyberbullying often results in more negative effects than in-person bullying, and according to CBC News, cyberbullying may increase a child or teens risk of committing suicide, although cyberbullying may not be the only factor that contributes to suicide. One teen in British Columbia, Amanda Todd, tragically committed suicide after she posted a YouTube video that described how she had been dealing with depression while being bullied online. Another teenage girl, Jenna Bowers-Bryanton, was harassed on a social networking and in school, and she committed suicide as well. These high profile cases have brought to light the serious cyberbullying problem, as well as the tragic consequences that may occur as a result.
Researchers from the Dalhousie University in Halifax found 41 suicide cases in which electronic bullying was mentioned. They found that the incidence of cyberbullying-related suicides significantly increased in the past decade. Between 2003 and 2010, they found 23 cases, and in 2011 and the first few months of 2012, researchers found a staggering 18 cases of cases that had a link to cyberbullying. While most of these victims were facing bullying online and at school, this study definitely shows how serious cyberbullying is today, as well as a link between cyberbullying and suicide.
Electronic Bullying – Common Examples of Cyber Bullying
Electronic bullying can take many different forms. The following are some of the common examples of cyberbullying.
- Email – Most computers, tablets, and cellphones have access to email, and cyber bullies often use emails to send threatening or harassing messages to victims. While it may be possible to trace the email account from which the message was sent, it is difficult to prove who used the account to send the email message. Parents can use email filters to delete or block messages from certain senders.
- Chat Rooms – Chat rooms allow users to enter text, communicating with other users in real-time. In many cases, users can enter chat rooms under false names, making it possible for bullies to use chat rooms to anonymously write hateful, meant posts about other individuals. Online predators often use chat rooms to lure children and teens into meeting in person. Parents should not allow young children in chat rooms without the presence of an adult, and teens should only be allowed to use moderated chat rooms.
- Instant Messenger – Instant messengers allow users to communicate with another individual in real time. Common online instant messaging systems include Yahoo Messenger, MSN messenger, and AOL messenger. Cyberbullies may use these messengers to send threatening and harassing messages to victims in real time. Parents should instruct children to be careful to only add individuals they trust to their buddy list, and parents should help children set up instant messaging accounts to ensure that personal contact information is not made readily available to others.
- Websites – Some bullies create websites designed to harass, torment, and mock other online users. If this occurs to your child, consider contacting the internet service provider to have the situation addressed.
- Text Messages – Text messages are sent between mobile devices, and today they can include text and media. Bullies may send harassing or threatening messages to a victim’s cell phone, or they may use text messages to send unflattering photos of the victim to other individuals.
- Social Media Sites – Cyberbullying has become especially prevalent on social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It’s possible for bullies to set up fake accounts under fake names, making it easy to anonymously harass and bully other individuals online. Facebook offers a chat feature, which allows bullies to send harassing messages via the social media site. Since social media sites reach so many people, it’s easy for bullies to post pictures or texts that embarrass victims, and it’s especially detrimental because so many people will see those posts.
Why Bully? Why Do Kids Bully Others Online?
Despite all the efforts to eliminate cyberbullying, it continues to be a problem. Why do kids continue to bully others online? In many cases, the behavior of bullies actually comes from their own problems. The following are a few of the reasons kids and teens bully others online:
- Recycled Abuse – In many cases, bullying is a sign of recycled abuse. A child may be bullied at school, and they use cyberbullying as a way to let out the hatred, frustration, and anger they feel. Children who are being abused at home may process their feelings of helplessness by bullying other children. While children and teens may be afraid to lash out at their bullies or abusers, they lash out at other individuals that they feel are helpless.
- Insecurity – Insecurity is one of the primary motivations behind kids that bully others. Kids that start feeling jealous, insecure, or vulnerable may begin lashing out because they do not have the emotional coping skills they need to deal with their feelings. Children and teens that lack emotional intelligence may meet others that they feel surpass them in personality, intelligence, and skills. When this occurs, they label that person as bad, lashing out at them through various forms of bullying.
- Ignorance of Consequences – Some cyberbullies are actually ignorant of the consequences that cyberbullying has on others, and they think that their actions are funny. Since individuals cannot see the reactions of their victims in person, they may be unaware of the damage they are inflicting on others.
- Anonymity – Technology allows bullies to bully others anonymously, which means they do not need to fact their victims. It takes a lot less courage to bully someone you cannot see, and anonymity gives bullies the idea that they will not be caught when they bully others online.
- Sociopathic Personality – Some bullies have a sociopathic personality, and these individuals actually find pleasure in the unhappiness of other individuals. Kids or teens with a sociopathic personality lack empathy, a personality trait found in most humans, which encourages individuals to assist others emotionally and physically. In some cases, a chemical imbalance may result in the development of a sociopathic personality, and these individuals may view other people as objects. Different forms of attachment disorders may also result in the development of sociopathic personalities, and attachment disorders often develop in infants or toddlers that do not bond or attach with a caregiver. Attachment disorders are often seen in children in foster care, or orphans.
- Social Peer Pressure – Social peer pressure often drives children or teens to bully others online. When friends pressure them to engage in cyberbullying, they may begin to feel that this behavior is socially acceptable and normal. Popular kids may feel pressure to engage in cyberbullying to maintain their popularity with others. Individuals with low self-esteem may think that bullying others online will help them to fit in with peers.
Dealing with Bullies Online – What to do if Your Child is Bullied Online
Now that you are aware of the important cyber bullying facts, it’s important to know what to do if your child is bullied online. Do not ignore cyber bullying. If your child is a victim of cyberbullying, here are some steps you can take to deal with bullies online.
- Step #1 – Never Reply to Cyberbullies – If your child is a victim of cyberbullying, never reply to cyberbullies. Instruct your child not to reply to the bully. Although the messages may make you angry, parents should never send back a reply.
- Step #2 – Talk to Your Internet Service Provider – When cyberbullying occurs, talk to your internet service provider (ISP), or if the bullying occurs via a cellphone, contact your cellphone service provider.
- Step #3 – Don’t Delete Messages from Cyberbullies – Make sure you avoid deleting the messages from cyberbullies, since these messages are evidence that the bullying occurred. Your ISP or the police may be able to use these messages to find the person behind the bullying.
- Step #4 – Inform the Police – Cyberbullying is serious, so inform your local police if your child is being bullied online.
- Step #5 – Support Your Child – Children who are victims of cyberbullies go through a lot of emotional turmoil. While it’s important to take measures to stop the problem, you also need to offer your child support. Let your child know that they are not at fault. If your child is showing signs of depression after being bullied, you may want to have your child seen by a mental health professional or a therapist.