This is a guest post by Tyler Clark.
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior by someone who wants to intimidate, threaten or hurt others.
When bullying occurs via electronic devices and social media services, it’s called cyberbullying.
Whether they using a cell phone, tablet, school computer or home computer, cyberbullies spread mean messages using email, texts or social networking sites to humiliate and embarrass their victims. According to the I-SAFE Foundation, 42 percent of children admit to being bullied online. Of that number, nearly a quarter of them reveal that it has happened more than once. From the same report, 53% of children report that they have written something hurtful online about or to another person.
Cyberbullying is particularly hurtful to the victims for several reasons:
• Attacks can happen any time of day or night.
• Messages and pictures reach a wider audience than physical bullying.
• Attacks can be anonymous and it’s hard to trace the source.
• “Cleaning up” texts, posts and photos after they are out on the internet is nearly impossible.
Cyberbullying occurs via a range of social networks and communication tools, including email, text messaging, instant messaging, chat rooms, blogs and social media like Facebook and Twitter. It’s easy for bullies to get temporary accounts using pseudonyms and the anonymity allows bullies to go undiscovered. Researchers also speculate that the anonymity allows bullies to push beyond normal social constraints and harass victims when they might not normally do so.
Just like victims of traditional bullying, victims of cyberbullying experience damaging effects. Victims of cyberbullying often report feeling scared, frustrated, depressed and suicidal. Low self-esteem and isolation are other results of serious cyberbullying. Some of the tactics used by cyberbullies include:
• Spreading lies and rumors
• Making harassing phone calls to the victim
• Pretending to be someone else to entice the victim to reveal personal information
• Sending mean messages to the victim and copying others
• Post real or doctored pictures of the victim without consent
• Breaking into the victim’s account and sending out damaging messages
• Circulating sexually explicit messages or photos about the victim
Many countries have launched awareness campaigns and public service announcements to increase understanding about cyberbullying and educate parents, teachers and children about how to recognize it and what to do about it. The awareness campaigns aim to give victims the tools they need to combat cyberbullies.
Almost all the states in the country have enacted legislation that makes it illegal to digitally harass someone and several laws are in place or are pending that criminalize cyberbullying. Because there are few existing laws that deal with bullying via electronic means, states are working quickly to ensure that anyone who uses electronic means to make threats, stalk or otherwise harass another will face criminal charges.
Cyberbullying is often undetected by other adults, whether parents or teachers, because the traditional signs of physical bullying—bruises and fat lips—are absent. Victims of digital harassment may be too embarrassed to share what is happening with an adult, and there is often no way for adults to pick up on improper cyber activity unless they are told by the victim or discover it accidentally.
Tyler Clark is a writer and consultant on modern parenting issues, such as homeschooling, children’s nutrition and cyberbullying in schools.http://www.liahonaacademy.com/