In today’s modern world where mobile gadgets are a trend, the rate of cyber bullying has increased. What is cyberbullying? What does cyberbullying mean? Cyber bullying is the act of tormenting, harassing, or threatening a young person using modern technology, commonly the Internet and mobile phones. Usually, minors are involved – either the bully or the victim is a minor. In cases when adults are involved, it can turn into cyber stalking or cyber-harassment.
Cyber bullying is also different from sexual exploitation. For instance, if an adult contacts a minor and lures the minor to meet somewhere off the Internet, it is not a form of cyber bullying, but rather sexual exploitation. However, most minors that do cyber bullying usually invite sexual predators, especially if the cyber bullying campaign involves posting nasty or lewd photos of the victim online.
There are different methods of cyber bullying but they are usually limited only to the bully’s imagination. In addition, cyber bullying does not mean that the bully remains to be the bully. Sometimes, the bully can also become the victim. With cyber bullying, the roles can be reversed.
The Worst That Could Happen
The worst thing that could happen during cyber bullying campaigns involves killing. Some children have resorted to killing their tormentors or even have committed suicide just to escape the emotional consequences of the act. The act itself is not a one-time thing unless threats of physical harm are involved. Kids will know that cyber bullying is taking place. On the other hand, parents may worry about their children when they start cursing. This tends to make them worry more than understanding the real effects on their kids.
What Happens to the Cyber Bully?
Cyber bullying can escalate to a charge known as a misdemeanour cyber harassment charge. If the bully is too young to be charged, he or she can be charged as a juvenile delinquent. In most cases, acts of cyber bullying do not go so far, but there are parents who will push through with criminal charges. What does cyber bullying mean for the bully then? This would only mean that the bully will lose his social media account because he or she has violated the terms of service of the chosen social media site. If identity theft or hacking is involved, it can be treated as a crime by the law.
Cyber Bullying and Schools
When schools want to take part against cyber bullying through policies and disciplines set for students during off-campus hours, they could face the possibility of being sued for violating the student’s right to free speech. Sadly, these schools often lose the battle.
Schools can be great mediators who encourage parents to be involved against cyber bullying. A school can be the perfect place where education about laws on cyber bullying starts. If a school knows how to fight back and make their stand against cyber bullying, they can still avoid losing a legal battle. It is recommended for schools to let people know about their policy against cyber bullying and for them to make it known that they have the right to discipline students who start cyber bullying campaigns even during off-campus hours.
When thinking about cyberbullying what is it about, what causes cyberbullying and why it still exists, the reasons can be plentiful.
- Plot for Revenge. Cyber bullying can happen as a plot to take revenge on someone. What does cyberbullying mean to victims? Kids who are victims of bullies will always have the desire to fight back. Most of the time, they feel that fighting back is justified because they have experienced being harassed. By cyber bullying other kids, they can feel a sense of contentment and relief from the torment they have experienced. Cyber bullying is rather convenient for them and these kids can even target the bully directly. There are also times when kids target the weak and vulnerable. Motives can vary from one bully to another. For this reason, there is no specific approach to the tackle the incident.
- Bullying Out of Boredom. If boredom strikes, cyber bullying can take place. As unfortunate as it may seem, kids do find entertainment from doing these things. They may also do the act because they want to seek attention mostly from their parents. Because the Internet is the most readily available tool to seek that form of entertainment, cyber bullying happens.
- The Deserving Victim. Cyber bullying may start based on the victim’s social status in school. For instance, a group of girls want to see one particular girl suffer because she may be too bossy when around other students. Alternately, it could also be that a mean girl simply wants to bully a particular student who seems to be doing an excellent job in class. Whatever their motives may be, kids sometimes believe that cyber bullying is just right for some people and that they deserve being the victim. What is worse is that these bullies will not even feel guilty by bullying someone over the Internet especially if they believe that the victim deserves it.
- Confidence Over Not Getting Caught. The Internet can indeed provide anonymity, but this is only a false sense of security that kids get. Many kids strongly believe that posting abusive comments or content online is easy get away with. A cyber bully can simply start a rumour and everything can start spreading rapidly while he or she sits comfortably watching how the situation progress. However, cyber bullies should be aware that the act can be traced. This is especially true when the victim is serious about pushing through with further investigation.
- Feeling of Superiority. Kids with coveted social statuses are more likely to pick on kids with inferior ones. They easily turn to the Internet to make these kids suffer by spreading nasty rumours and even bring down other kids through cyber bullying. There are also kids who hunger for social status and resort to cyber bullying just to get the attention that they have been longing for. It could also be that these “weaker” kids choose to cyber bully just to bring down someone who has already achieved a higher social status.
What Makes Cyber Bullying Different?
Kids who experience cyber bullying are also victims in person. In addition, kids who are being cyber bullied may also find it difficult to escape the incident. Cyber bullying is different from the standard type of bullying in the schoolyard whereas the former can happen at any time of the day, week, or month.
Cyber bullying campaigns are easily spread and can also be posted anonymously as well as reach a wider audience very quickly. Sometimes, it can be challenging to track the source unless the authorities are involved. While choosing to delete inappropriate messages or online content may be possible, it can be difficult to take it down once it goes viral and has reached thousands of viewers.
It is important to have the basic knowledge on what to do about cyber bullying. The first vital step is to educate young kids on the possible consequences of being a cyber bully such as losing access to the Internet or having their social media accounts closed. It also helps to teach children more about the value of respect towards others. The victims should also be taught on how to positively take a stand against the behaviour.
What To Do About Cyberbullying
Parents should be a kid’s refuge especially when something as horrible as cyber bullying takes place. This does not only apply to online bullying but to offline bullying as well. However, the usual scenario is that kids will not turn to their parents if they become a victim of cyber bullying because of one reason – parents have the tendency to overreact to the situation.
Most victims of bullying of any form will choose not to tell, especially their parents, because they fear that by doing so will only make the problems worse. There are also parents who tend to react less to the situation which is unfortunate. These parents do not have the power to at least give their kids some encouragement to stay strong despite such adversity.
What is cyber bullying to parents means that they should always be supportive of their children. A parent may tell their child that it shall pass and it can never hurt them deep enough, but it is likely the opposite will occur. Cyber bullying can have lasting effects especially on the emotional aspect of the victim. It can be a memory that will haunt kids for a long time. Emotional pain in this case is very serious and the last thing a person should do as a parent is to simply brush it off.
Parents should take a stand in the fight against cyber bullying. They should inform the school or a guidance counsellor about any incidence of cyber bullying or even in-school bullying. If things get too out of control, a family counsellor may need to get involved. It is vital for parents to continuously show support for their children and they should emphasize the importance of their kids feeling secure.
Cyber bullying is no joke; kids have died or taken lives because of it. It should be a warning to parents that matters like these should be taken seriously. Parents should also understand that while their children can be victims, they can also take the role of the tormentor. Often, these kids will not even realize that they have already done some form of cyber bullying because they feel that they are committing a justifiable behaviour.
Parents should take action as soon as possible their children is a suspected cyber bully victim before more damage can be done emotionally. Parents should consider two things first before tackling the situation. They should assess their children’s risk for bodily harm and they should know how their children are handling the cyber attacks.
The Value of Education in the Fight Against Cyber Bullying
Education is a powerful tool in preventing cyber attacks as well as dealing with the effects of the behaviour. Education campaigns should be propagated towards young people these days. These kids should know that they can also become cyber bullies without them realizing it; they should know when an act is considered as cyber bullying. More importantly, they should learn how to take responsibility of their actions and realize that any form of bullying – whether offline or online – will never be acceptable and will not go unpunished. Kids these days should be taught how to be sensitive of other people’s feelings.
If kids can understand how bullying can be really emotionally damaging and how the mere power of words can hurt someone, there will be lesser number of children who will want to unite with cyber bullies. These children would think twice about hitting the send button during the contemplation of sending a nasty content about someone. They will think twice about doing something that can hurt others.
It is normal for a young kid to react negatively once he or she sees something nasty posted about him or her. The initial response is to get back at the tormentor – which then makes the victim no different than the tormentor. It is important to teach children to be calm about it and keep their attention away from the hurtful content. Encourage them to do something worthwhile until they eventually find a way to calm down.
Parents and school administrators should learn how to initiate a conversation with a victim in a way that the victim will feel that there is someone out there who is trustworthy. Policies should be well defined so that those who will attempt to commit the act will have the decency to think twice about it.
There are so many campaigns against cyber bullying. Education is valuable to make society safer for all children. Working together to stop cyber bullying means creating an environment that fosters peace and sensitivity towards others. Modern technology should be tools that make things easier and more convenient and not something to be used to hurt or torment other people’s feelings.