Teenagers spend most of their time these days on their cell phones, texting, instant messaging, uploading photos, using social networking sites like Facebook and generally spending a large portion of their life online. Unfortunately, bullying has also jumped online. It’s called cyber or internet bullying and its prevalence rivals traditional school yard bullying.
Cyber bulling occurs when someone posts rumors, secrets, threats, private photos or any other material intended to hurt, embarrass or harass another person online. It’s estimated that cyber bulling affects nearly half of all teenagers and its reach is increasing every year.
Girl bullies in particular use the internet to bully their victims. Girls generally bully to increase their social status, to demean or belittle rivals or to exclude others from a group. Because girls don’t generally bully in a physical manner, cyberspace is a perfect outlet for their bullying. Rumors and secrets can spread like wildfire and they can accomplish their purpose quickly.
Cyber bullies can actually be victims of physical or schoolyard bullying themselves. They seek revenge through internet bullying because they can be anonymous and cyberspace does not require physical strength. They can seek this revenge with little in the way of repercussions.
Victims of cyber bullying find themselves feeling scared, hurt, embarrassed and angry. They feel helpless to defend themselves because they don’t generally know who the bully is. In particularly heinous cases cyberbullying can damage the victim’s psyche leaving them in a suicidal state.
Cyber bullying prevention starts with reporting of the incident -either to school officials or if the bullying involves threats or any other illegal activity to law enforcement. Although cyberbullies believe that they are anonymous, they really aren’t. Everyone leaves a digital footprint in cyberspace and they can be found.
Cyber bullying has become an epidemic and it’s everyone’s responsibility to do their part in preventing it. With teens spending a large portion of their time online, schoolyard bullying is no longer the only problem.