by Vanessa Van Petten |
Monique is a sixteen year old girl living in Louisiana. She is a writer, dancer, and actress who enjoys playing video games and learning about others. Her favorite subjects are English, History, and Science; she plans to attend college and get a PhD in a related field.
Cyber bullying is becoming an increasing problem among teenagers today as social networking sites like Facebook becoming increasingly popular. However, parents today are not aware of the psychological damage this cause for their child.
What is Cyber Bullying?
According Merriam-webster.com, Cyber bullying is the electronic posting of mean-spirited messages about a person (as a student) often done anonymously. Cyber Bullying occurs over various websites such as: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Formspring, Myspace, Chat sites, email, and other social networks and servers. The scariest part about cyber bullying is that it can be done at any time, from anywhere, by anyone (anonymously or not). While physically bullying was an issue before the technology age it was not nearly as agonizing. Primarily because you can’t just go home to escape cyber bullying; it is everywhere. Unless your child is a technophobe, every time they get on a computer there will be some form of bullying that is uncontrollable because of the mask that the internet creates for us. Because one is not face to face with your children “honestly” tends to cross the line into vicious hate and unnecessary comments that would never be made in the presence of your child.
Statistics on Cyber Bullying:
According to Isafe.org 58% of children admit that they have been a victim of cyber bullying, and 53% admit that they said hurtful things through the internet to their peers. Sadly 58% did not seek help from an adult and endured the bullying. According to this chart provided by cyberbullying.us Children who are cyber bullied have a significantly lower self esteem than those who don’t. However, the saddest chart is this one; This is a chart also provided by cyberbullying.us which shows that adolescents who were victims of cyber bullying scored higher on the suicidal ideation scale.
Is it worse over the internet?
I think the hardest thing for people not of our generation to grasp is how we could possibly let this effect us. It’s only the internet right? Wrong. Especially when it’s anonymous, bullying through the internet is something that sticks to you. When you receive a hurtful message or IM it’s completely unexpected and sometimes we don’t know how to handle it. Usually it leads to extreme amounts of anger and sadness which stays with us longer than usual because this message is almost engraved into our brains. We can see it, read it again, and repeat it in our head. It hurts more than usual, especially if it’s anonymous. When it’s anonymous It could very well not be the girl you think hates you; it could be your best friend, it could be anyone. The uncertainty, anxiety, and dwelling of the victims of cyber bullying can lead to serious issues such as suicide, self injury, low self esteem, eating disorders, and depression. What’s horrible is that you as a parent will probably never know that your child is a victim of cyber bullying because for a teenager to tell a parent is almost shameful. Teenagers are on their own unless they ask for help, and they very rarely do which gets them in deeper trouble.
How can you prevent it?
- Tell your child if they are ever victimized through technology to just delete the message. Tell them not to react to it. Reacting to it will lead to the continuing of the harassment. Which will make your child more upset. Deleting the message will also help them forget about the harassment and not dwell on it.
- If the bullying takes place over Instant Message tell your child to take advantage of blocking someone. Tell them to follow the first suggestion and then block that person or IP address from contacting them again.
- Pay attention to warning signs of Depression, suicide, Self harm, Eating disorders, and other issues that cyber bullying can bring on. If your child is showing signs ask them what’s going on in their life and how you can help. They may be afraid to talk with you.
- Get school involved. Every school has a commitment to insure that your child is getting an education and that nothing is interfering with it, including bullying. Almost every school has a zero tolerance policy for bullying in and out of school. This means, they can get your child the justice they deserve and possibly prevent future attacks if the right punishment is given. Warning: Kids do talk. Everyone WILL know that you brought the issue to the attention of the school. This could lead to future problems if not handled correctly.
- If Someone seriously threatens your child do not be afraid to call the police. Threats are a very serious issues that need to be handled by professionals such as law enforcement and should not be taken lightly.
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