Parenting is no easy task. Even though parents throughout time have faced all types of challenges, each era with its own unique problems and solutions, parents of this decade are dealing with situations that would have been unimaginable to parents as little as two decades ago. In addition to the normal concerns that parents encounter, the emergence of cellphones and the internet as household staples has led to a new and very real danger for children; cyberbullying. Where do you find cyberbullying help?
|SEE ALSO: How to Deal With Cyberbullying|
Cyberbullying is defined as bullying that takes place using technology. Types of devices and communication platforms often used in cyberbullying include:
- Social media sites
- Instant messaging/chat programs
Common examples of cyberbullying include:
- Mean text messages, emails or posts
- Rumors sent by text, email, or over social media
- Sending or posting embarrassing photos or videos
- Creating fake/embarrassing profiles
Cyberbullying has taken normal bullying and elevated it to a faster, easier way to hurt and humiliate victims, often encompassing the victim’s entire life. Over the past several years, more and more stories have surfaced about teens who committed suicide after suffering from abuse by cyberbullies. One example was the case of Amanda Todd.
A Real Example
Amanda Todd fell victim to a cyberstalker who first convinced her to flash her breasts online and then used the photo to blackmail her. The cyberbully also created a fake Facebook profile for Amanda using the photo of her breasts. No matter what Amanda and her family tried to do to end the bullying, she was unable to escape from her stalker. Amanda created a video documenting her struggle with cyberbullying which she posted online. A little over a month after posting the video chronicling her experience, Amanda hung herself in her home. You can read more about Amanda Todd’s story in this article on NewYorker.com.
How Bad Can It Get?
Children who are being cyberbullied are often bullied in person as well, but unlike a child who only suffers from in-person bullying, the cyberbullied child often can’t escape their tormentors. Cyberbullies can strike any time of the day or night, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Unlike in-person bullying alone, cyberbullies have the unique ability to distribute their comments, photos or other hurtful behaviors to a large audience in a matter of moments.
Once a bully has posted a rumor or photo onto the web, it can be nearly impossible to remove it. Children who are being cyberbullied are more likely to skip school, receive lower grades, have low self-esteem, and to potentially begin experimenting and becoming addicted to controlled substances such as drugs or alcohol.
Being aware of what children are doing online, who they are talking to, and knowing what websites they are visiting is the first and often most important preventative measure that parents can take against cyberbullying. Talking to children and reassuring them that they can and should report any type of cyberbullying is essential. Fostering an open communication between parents and children is a key factor in stopping potentially dangerous situations from occurring.
Are There Resources?
Statistics on cyberbullying are challenging to find and compare because of the ever-changing face of technology, however, according to stopbullying.gov:
- The 2008–2009 School Crime Supplement (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics) indicates that 6% of students in grades 6–12 experienced cyberbullying.
- The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey finds that 16% of high school students (grades 9-12) were electronically bullied in the past year.
If you want to read more facts and statistics on cyberbullying, read our Online Bullying Statistics article.
What Can You Do?
Seeking cyberbullying help doesn’t have to be difficult for parents. As the frequency and severity of this new problem arises, so do the resources available to provide cyberbully help for parents and children. Here are a few examples of resources you can make use of:
- Stopbullying.gov – This government run website focuses solely on all forms of bullying and includes information on how to talk to children about what to do if they or their friends are being bullied.
- Cyberbullying.us – This site is a one-stop resource for all kinds of information about cyberbullying, with online resources for parents, children, and educators along with a blog, research materials, articles and helpful links.
- Commonsensemedia.org – Log on to this site to find educational videos and toolkits for children, educators and parents about cyberbullying. The site is even divided into different age groups so users can access specific cyberbullying help for the relevant age group.
Partnerships between parents, students, and educators is also a highly effective method of identifying, preventing, or stopping bullying, both in person and on cyber space. Many children who are being bullied or who are witnessing someone else being bullied don’t share information with parents or teachers. Children may be too embarrassed to tell that they are being bullied, or they are maybe afraid that the bullying will get worse if the bully finds out that the victim told.
Children who are witnessing bullying may think it’s not their business or place to tell, or they may be afraid that the bully will turn on them if they get involved. Parents and educators should both take the time to assure children that bullying is always wrong and should always be shared with a parent, teacher, or another respected adult figure.
Very often, bullies are looking for attention and admiration from their peers. Encouraging children to stand up against bullies for themselves and their friends is one of the most effective ways to stop bullying in its tracks.
Cyberbullying.us reports that although cyberbullying is on the rise, “normal” bullying is still more common. Additionally, the same children who are victims of traditional bullying are more likely to be victims of cyberbullying and the children doing the bullying are likely to be the same online and in person.