The internet is a wonderful and magical place. It allows mass communication, the rapid spread of ideas, and it is a whole new way of life. Like many things, though, the internet can be a dark and frightening place. The opportunity for illegal or illicit acts and addiction all lie beyond the small white screen. However, those aren’t the only horrible things the digital world holds.
Much like in real life, bullying is very much alive in the digital world. Cyberbullying is similar to ordinary bullying, but it takes place online or by digital communication. However, the internet allows for one thing that is extremely hard to acquire in the real world. Anonymity. Bullies can now hide behind their screens and false identities without facing the repercussions of their actions. This can have varying effects on their victims that can last for years.
There are eight types of cyberbullying that occur online. Exclusion and denigration being the ones that affect middle school and high school students the most. Denigration being: putting rude online messages through email, instant messaging, chat rooms, or websites set up to make fun of a person. Exclusion, on the other hand, is intentionally leaving someone out of a group such as instant messaging, friend sites, or other online group activities. These types, along with the six other forms of cyberbullying, are seen as different from ordinary bullying by many people. Cyberbullying is different because of its reach, meaning a bully can harass their victim 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When the person is alone or in a large crowd, day or night that person is truly never by themselves. Anonymity also plays a huge role, allowing for the widespread of hate and malice in a short amount of time. In many cases, it is also very difficult to track and locate the bully in real life. Also one must remember that once online something can never truly be gone despite the destruction of the messages, texts, or pictures leading to the permanent damage to the person’s reputation.
Cyberbullying usually begins in middle school and progresses in high school. The 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey found that 15% of high school students (grades 9-12) were electronically bullied in the past year. Twenty-five percent of teenagers report that they have experienced repeated bullying by their cell phone, or on the internet. Ten percent of all middle school and high school students have been on the receiving end of hate terms. All this harassment can lead to severe effects on those who were bullied. Effects include the use of alcohol and drugs, in-person bullying, skipping/refusing to go to school, receiving poor grades, a low self-esteem, health issues and much more. Some may even consider taking their own lives. Statistics show that 20% of kids that experience cyberbullying think about suicide, and 1 in 10 attempt it.
Since cyberbullying occurs online and much of it is anonymous, it is difficult to delve out punishment to the harasser. However, it is important that people speak out. Ninety-five percent of teens that witnessed bullying on social media report that others, like them, have ignored the behavior. This behavior shouldn’t be ignored. If one doesn’t know the attacker they should make a change and report them. Schools should also take a stand against this new form of bullying by implementing anti-cyberbullying programs and making sure that their students have a safe place where they can talk to someone about their situation.
Below are sources I used and that can be helpful to you:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or at 1-800-273-8255
Also, I would suggest watching the movie Cyberbully which can be found and streamed online.