In the News
A young girl attempted suicide after being cyber bullied for months due to some embarrassing photos of her that were posted on Facebook. The girl’s mother said as the bullying continued her daughter would refuse to go to school or would go in late to avoid her tormentors. The victim posted a hasty suicide note on Facebook a day after another online attack, and attempted to end her life by jumping off a bridge. Fortunately, she survived the jump and is recovering from broken legs and internal bleeding. The police are currently conducting an investigation to identify the perpetrators of the cyber bullying.
Cyber Bullying is on the Rise
Occurrences of cyber bullying are steadily on the rise. Internet and cell phone use is consistently increasing with younger and younger children. Organizations need to understand the frequent threats children face from cyber bulling and identify the necessary steps to combat it. Consider this:
- 42% of kids have reported being bullied online
- 21% of kids have received mean or threatening messages online
- 58% of kids reported not telling their parents or an adult about being bullied
- 1 in 10 children have had embarrassing or damaging photos posted online without their permission
Why Cyber Bullying is so Damaging
Before the internet, kids could escape playground bullies and be safe at home. Now they don’t have that luxury. Bullying now follows them everywhere. Children now spend more time on their cell phones and internet than doing homework. This rise in the use of media by younger children leaves them open to bullying attacks anywhere at anytime.
How Do Kids Cyber Bully?
As the use of cell phones and internet increase among children so will the ways bullies can attack their victims. Some of the ways cyber bullies currently attack their victims include:
- Spread lies and rumors
- Pretend to be other people to trick victims
- Convince people to reveal personal or private information
- Post harmful or malicious comments
- Send or forward cruel text messages
- Post pictures of victims without their consent
Cyber Bullying Prevention
While it is difficult to completely eliminate cyber bullying, there are certain measures that can be taken to reduce it.
- Explain the dangers of cyber bulling to kids. As with all bullying, most kids simply don’t grasp the potential effects their actions might have. If they can be made aware of how serious the consequences of cyber bullying can be, as seen in the Reality Alert, they may be less inclined to commit it.
- Create and enforce cyber bullying rules. All organizations dealing with kids are aware of traditional bullying, but cyber bullying is newer and much harder to track. Children need to be aware that bullying and cyber bullying will be treated equally. A good rule is that any child caught using an organization computer or cell phone within the facility to bully another child will lose their privileges to use them for an extended period of time. If a child is caught repeatedly cyber bullying other program participants they should be asked to leave the organization
- Encourage children to come forward and report cyber bullying. It is important for cyber bullying to be reported because the majority of it is peer to peer and occurs where adults can’t witness it. Victims and witnesses of cyber bullying need to be instructed how important it is for them to come forward. Kids should keep cyber bullying messages as proof that the cyber bullying is occurring.
- Block social media sites on all facility computers. By restricting access to these sites, where the majority of cyber bullying occurs, an organization can help reduce the amount that occurs there.
- Try blocking the person sending the messages. Organizations should also spend time with children and teach them how to appropriately lock down their profiles and keep their passwords secure. Children should also be taught to block abusive users. In certain extreme situations it may be necessary to get a new phone number or email address and to be more cautious about giving out the new number or address.
- Children should not share anything through text or other electronic communication that they would not want to be made public. They should be reminded of both the unsecure nature of electronic communication but also that anything the send electronically can be stored permanently
- Encourage teens to keep personal information private.
- Keep all computers in open areas. This will ensure that staff will be able to keep a better eye on all internet activities.