Most of us have heard the saying “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. With today’s technology, that saying may no longer hold true. Studies show that in the past five years, online bullying has quadrupled (M. Ross, 3). The technology has given bullies a whole another proposal for their actions; virtual name-calling can have harsh effects on the security of kids and teens in today’s society. An online bully is someone who sends messages via technology, hides behind that keyboard and uses words or pictures to embarrass and bully their target.
The online bully’s goal is to make their target feel weak; these online bullies can be referred to as a cyber bully. Cyber bullying is the exercise of using technology to embarrass, threaten, harass, or target another person; according to its definition it occurs among young people (New, 4). It is usually performed by a child’s peers and surprisingly occurs early as the second grade (Jacobs 1). Cyber bullying can even be unintentional, especially through the use of emails, IMs, and text messages because the tone of the sender may be hard to depict. However, recurring emails, online posts, and texts are hardly ever unintentional (124). As the number of youths increase that have the availability to technology, cyber bullying is likely to continue to rise and continue to take its toll on youth. Due to its excessive effect that it has on children today, Cyber bullying should be taken more seriously.
Cyber bullies bully for a reason, just as all bullies do. There are many reasons that the bully may perform this horrible crime; the bully “may feel bad about themselves and may think being a bully will make them feel better” (Jakubiak 8). The cyber bully also might be turning to bullying due to frustrating, anger, or revenge (Stop Cyber bullying, Why Cyberbully? 1). Kids who are being victimized through cyber bullying, it can feel like there is no escape from it due to technology being all around in the everyday life. As almost all can testify, one has been bullied at least once in their life, whether it was intentional or accidental; and more than likely one will proclaim that it took a toll on them in some way, shape, or form. Although that person may not have felt something even as serious as any disorder that is stress-related, but the victim more than likely at least felt down and had been somewhat haunted about the situation afterwards. Kids that are cyber bullied lose confidence in themselves and their eating and socializing patterns become thrown off. Another effect of cyber bullying is the disturbance in one’s sleep pattern; thus causing the victim to become clumsy and off balance. It has also been proven that cyber bullying can leave its victims with a bigger risk for depression, anxiety, and other stress-related dismays (New, 9); such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, immune system suppression, and panic attacks. In the rare case, although its numbers have recently grown, some children have even turned to suicide due to the traumatic situation the person experienced with cyber bullying.
Victims of cyber bullying feel alone and ashamed of the situation, and often fear their technology privileges will be taken away if an adult is notified. Although many children involved in cyber bullying are disinclined to tell an elder of the situation, there are many signs of cyber bullying that adults can help and stay alert for. The victims tend to hide themselves under a turtle shell; they retract themselves from friends and sometimes even avoid group gatherings and school all together. Changes in mood, sleep, behavior, or appetite are all signals that something different is going on with the child; acting out of anger at home is also another sign to be aware of (New, 12). Due to there being numerous warning signs of cyber bullying, if you notice something just is not right with the child, you should sit down and talk with the child about what is going on.
In today’s society, parents seem to stay more alert of these types of issues but it isn’t always easy to know when or how to step in the situation as a parent. Fortunately, cyber bullying awareness is growing, which is helping more and more people to learn how to prevent the issue. If you discover that a child is being cyber bullied, make sure to talk with them on how it feels and assure the child that it is not the child’s fault. Parents should be the first place and most trusted source to go to during the times of difficulty online and offline (Stop Cyber bullying, 1). Numerous schools and their districts have procedures for responding to a cyber bullying case; talking to a school advisor or teacher may help one in guidance in the right direction for what step to take next with the child (New, 14). As most parents would do right off the bat, the parent is likely to report the issue. Before taking the initiative to do so, one should discuss their plan with the child in case s/he has any concerns as the child might prefer the problem to be handled at home (14). Thus making the situation not seem as serious for the bully, however the well being and feelings of the victim come first and foremost. There are plenty of other measures adults can take when handling a cyber bullying situation, such as blocking the bully and limiting the access to technology (14). Most kids will get upset when technology privileges are downsized or taken away, but it is beneficial for a kid who is being bullied because most kids who are victimized in cyber bullying can’t resist the enticement to look and see if there are new messages. One way that technology access can be filtered and limited is putting the computer in a public place in the house, such as the kitchen or living room, and not allowing laptops in the child’s bedroom (M. Ross, 6). Some parents may even take the situation to the measures of checking which sites the child is being visited and staying updated on what their child is posting online.
Cyber bullying has permanent effects on the victim’s school performance, self confidence, and well being. There are many signs one can look for when staying alert with cyber bullying; any changes in a child’s behavior, patterns, or habits should be taken into consideration and should automatically “ring a bell” to talk to the child about what is going on that is causing these changes. Cyber bullying detrimentally affects every person that is involved in the incident, but most of all it severely affects the victims and the victim’s family. All it takes is for one mean bully in order to tear down another child’s entire world. Family and friends should stay alert and supportive through serious situations such as cyber bullying; all parties should build the support system around the child being affected and help build them back up. Because of the increase of technology, cyber bullying numbers have also taken a rise. The crime should not be taken lightly and any little signs should be watched out for. It may only take one bully to tear down a child, but all it takes is a supportive and action-taking family and friends to build it back up.
Jacobs, Judge Tom. Teen Cyberbullying Investigated: Where Do Your Rights End and Consequences Begin? Minneapolis: Free Spirit Publishing, Inc., 2010. Print.
Jakubiak, David J. A Smart Kid’s Guide to Online Bullying. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc., 2010. Print.
Margaret Ross. Kamaron. Kamaron Institute, n.d. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. .
New, Michelle. KidsHealth. The Nemours Foundation, January 2009. Web. 01 Dec. 2014. .
Stop Cyberbullying. WiredKids, Inc., n.d. Web. Dec. 2014. .