By Judith Gulan
Cyber bullying, an ever-increasing deadly trend introduced by the Internet era, is becoming an epidemic in our society today. Educators and parents alike need to come together to raise awareness amongst our youth of the consequences of this dangerous trend.
Cyber bullying takes on many forms and can affect people of all ages. A very common form affects school-aged children and occurs when he or she is “…tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones.”
The severity that the bullying takes on is only limited to the attackers’ imagination and the resources that are available to them. As a result, the bullying that once occurred solely on school grounds, is now following students home.
Children no longer have a safe haven, because access to the Internet or phone messaging is readily available and direct. Forms of cyber bullying include but are not limited to: stealing passwords, sending pictures through email or text message, creating malicious websites, blogs and internet polls, and sending harassing instant messages or text messages.
The effects of cyber bullying are far-reaching and sometimes deadly. Kids feel more empowered to be as mean as they want because the words are not spoken but instead are typed. With just a click, the attacker can post or send harassing and threatening information to multiple people. Also troubling, the attacks can be anonymous if the aggressor chooses to make a false email address or profile. Attacks can also seem inescapable, and as a result have led to far too many suicides.
Teachers and parents need to educate themselves on this topic and communicate with their children about all types of bullying. Parents can find resources online, and can take many precautionary measures to protect their children from cyber bullying.
Parents should monitor their children’s use of the Internet and phone. Both parents and teachers need to educate students on the steps that can be taken if they are being cyber bullied. Ensuring there is an open line of communication will enable children to confide in adults with these issues. Victims should not react to an attack but take on preventative measures to prohibit another attack from taking place. Kids can block a bully from their buddy list on certain social networking sites and tell an adult about the incident. Also, kids need to be more discreet when it comes to sharing information via digital devices. They need to ask themselves if they would be embarrassed if the contents of their message reached someone other than the intended recipient.
Coming together as educators and parents is necessary when it comes to battling the war against cyber bullying. There are numerous online resources available that can educate you on this topic. As technology becomes more prominent in our lives, it is important that this growing epidemic is addressed so no more children suffer at the hands of cyber bullies.
Judith Gulan is a DePaul University graduate student studying Elementary Education.
Read more Care2 articles on bullying:
Turning the Tables on the School Bully
Sticks and Stones Can Break My Bones, Cyberbullying Can Potentially Kill
and sign this pledge to end Cyber Bullying today!
Video by Helen and Nick Lazaris:
Do you have any experiences with cyber bullying? Did you find any particular tactics effective in combating the attacks?