Monday, March 12, 2012

Cyberbullying: It's Just a Little Text....

When I was a kid, in order to be bullied...a bully had to physically be present.  A kid that when you saw'd sweat and feel like running for the hills.  I never imagined a day when a bully could get to you from five miles away, let alone maybe thousands - all while remaining nameless and faceless.

Thank you, internet for the invention of cyberbullying.  

What is cyberbullying, exactly?

According to StopCyberBullying.Org, "Cyberbullying" is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. It has to have a minor on both sides, or at least have been instigated by a minor against another minor. Once adults become involved, it is plain and simple cyber-harassment or cyberstalking. Adult cyber-harassment or cyberstalking is NEVER called cyberbullying.

There are two kinds of cyberbullying, direct attacks (messages sent to your kids directly) and cyberbullying by proxy (using others to help cyberbully the victim, either with or without the accomplice's knowledge).

What do you do if your child is being cyberbullied?

First and foremost, parents/guardians need to be the one trusted place kids can go when things go wrong online and offline. Yet they often are the one place kids avoid when things go wrong online. Why? Parents tend to overreact. Most children will avoid telling their parents about a cyberbullying incident fearing they will only make things worse. (Calling the other parents, the school, blaming the victim or taking away Internet privileges.) Unfortunately, they also sometimes under-react, and rarely get it "just right."

Parents need to be supportive of your child during this time. You may be tempted to give the "stick and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you" lecture, but words and cyberattacks can wound a child easily and have a lasting effect. These attacks follow them into your otherwise safe home and wherever they go online. And when up to 700 million accomplices can be recruited to help target or humiliate your child, the risk of emotional pain is very real, and very serious. Don't brush it off. 

Let the school know so the guidance counselor can keep an eye out for in-school bullying and for how your child is handling things. You may want to notify your pediatrician,  family counselor or clergy for support if things progress. It is crucial that you are there to provide the necessary support and love. Make them feel secure. Children have committed suicide after having been cyberbullied, and in Japan one young girl killed another after a cyberbullying incident. Take it seriously.

Who hasn't seen the CW tween dramas where photos are texted..where dirt is spread via texts, social networking sites, blogs, youtube, etc.?  There's an entire show based on the on-line gossiping about NYC Upper East Side kids?  Isn't it sad that we glorify this behavior?  Make it cool and popular?  (Love Gossip Girl fashion..hate the premise of the show).  This is cyberbullying.  These are the things that are breaking down our youth..eating away at them little by little.

The most important thing that you can do for the children in your life is to BE AWARE.  Be active, be aware and be there for them.  You never know when they may need you. 

Sometimes, cyberbullying leaves the virtual world and becomes a REAL world problem.  According to, cyberbullying can become a crime by:
  • Physically assaulting someone
  • Harassing someone especially if the harassment is based on gender or racism
  • Making violent threats
  • Making death threats
  • Making obscene and harassing phone calls and texts
  • Sexting
  • Sextortion which is sexual exploitation
  • Child pornography
  • Stalking someone
  • Committing hate crimes
  • Taking a photo of someone in a place where they expect privacy
  • Extortion
Don't hesitate to turn evidence of cyberbullying over to the authorities - save whatever you can.  contains a lot of useful information, including how to tell the difference between flaming, cyberbullying, harrassment and cyberstalking.  Click Here also provides a lot of great information and tools for multiple types of bullying (including cyberbullying).

This should line the halls of every school..and be taught to children at an early age.  Maybe then..bullying would become a thing of the past for children everywhere..

Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become character.
Watch your character for it becomes your destiny.

– Patrick Overton

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Marls said...

Awesome Post, Blissie. We must be the same age because when I was a kid too - we didn't have that kind of bullying. We had your classic verbal threats and people being stuffed in lockers. :(

Karrien said...

This is some very helpful information! My son has been a victim of cyberbullying and it is just as hurtful as physical bullying. When he was being bullied, we came across which offers great advice about dealing with cyberbullies. I hope that other parents of bullied children can find it helpful as well.

Expert witness said...

A 2011 survey of New York high school students revealed that, during the previous year, nearly 18 percent had been bullied on school property and 16 percent had experienced cyber-bullying through e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, Web sites, texting or other electronic means.