Fact: 43% of teens report that they have experienced some form of cyberbullying in the last year.*
Fact: ONLY 25% of teens who experience cyberbullying tell an adult.*
Not familiar with cyberbullying? It's when minors are threatened, harassed, humiliated or embarrassed by other minors using the Internet, phone, or other digital technology; when this type of communication is between adults, the term is cyberharassment.
Cyberbullying has similar negative psychological effects as physical and verbal face-to-face bullying, such as anxiety, eating disorders, depression, and even suicide.
Like traditional bullying, children who are cyberbullied tend to act withdrawn from once-enjoyed activities such as online games or chats, and avoid class, as well as extracurriculars, where they may be subject to additional ridicule. Because the digital world affords a shield of anonymity, it allows users to harass and bully others without having to reveal their identity and also provides potential for non-stop contact between the victim and the bully; an existing problem aggravated by new technology.
So how should you handle cyberbullying? Because cyberbullies can hide behind a digital shield and many children (a whopping 75%!) never tell an adult they are a victim, cyberbullying can be difficult to detect and therefore, difficult to stop. If a child is pushed on the playground, they tell a teacher, but if someone sends a hate email, they... ignore and delete? Maybe, but this will not solve the problem. If a child tells you they're being tormented online, there are steps of action you can take and deleting the hurtful message is only a temporary solution.
Here's a combination of tips from BlogHer '11 and NCPC.org to help prevent futher cyberbullying:
- Stop all communication with the bully. Some networks provide parental control options and allow blocking unwanted messages and users, utilize these tools when necessary.
- Keep physical and electronic records of all interactions with the bully (print outs, e-files, screenshots, IMs, photos, etc.) and create a written, detailed timeline of events.
- If it is school-related, tell a teacher or principal. Many schools are taking steps to prevent and educate students and parents on the dangers and reality of cyberbullying, but sometimes it is out of their hands.
- If threats of violence occur, go to the police department and file an initial complaint.
Hate email, IMs, texts and similar digital communications are just as real and scary as a verbal threat or physical torment. There's no reason to ignore cyberbullying. Stand up for yourself, and your kids as they head back to school this year by taking action before bullying goes too far. Please share this post with others in an effort to stop cyberbullying!
If you have any tips or want to share how you resolved a cyberbullying experience, we'd love to hear from you here or on our Voxox Facebook page.
*Statistics source: ncpc.org/resources/files/pdf/bullying