Cyber Bullying…It is on the rise
Sadly, I heard about a young boy, only 12, who took his own life yesterday. His reason…he was being bullied online. At only 12 years of age. TWELVE! Do you get the picture here? When I was 12 I was playing kick the can and reading Teen Bop crushing on the latest heartthrob. Now kids are getting cell phones younger and younger. They are creating social media accounts well before the “legal” age of 13. I use the term legal loosely as it is easy to lie and create an account.
Some parents are fine with it. For the technology has become the instant babysitter. I just need a nap so sure you can get on youtube, I just need to finish this project…sure you can have a facebook account, I have worked all day and want to chill in front of the television so go ahead and do some gaming. For the parent with the popular kid, you have given them a whole new world to be popular in. To the kid who is already having a hard time of it, you have just opened the gates of hell.
Adults are guilty too…
Adults are guilty of online bullying too. I can’t tell you how many times I have left a snide remark or said my peace under the umbrella of anonymity. Easy to do. I love to stir up the internet trolls with my somewhat conservative look on life. As an adult, I can turn it off. My identity is not wrapped up in my social media actions. I may leave a snippy comment on a Yahoo article about some idiot doing something outrageous and have haters clap back. No skin off my nose. My life is still pretty great and I can honestly say I do not care what people think of me.
Picture an 11 or 12-year-old boy or girl. One who already struggles in the real world. There is such a strong desire to connect and make friends that they reach out into the vast world of “online.” Which opens them up for many forms of bullying.
It is important to understand how children are cyberbullied so it can be easily recognized and action can be taken. Some of the most common cyberbullying tactics include:
- Posting comments or rumors about someone online that are mean, hurtful, or embarrassing.
- Threatening to hurt someone or telling them to kill themselves.
- Posting a mean or hurtful picture or video.
- Pretending to be someone else online in order to solicit or post personal or false information about someone else.
- Posting mean or hateful names, comments, or content about any race, religion or other personal characteristics online.
- Creating a mean or hurtful webpage about someone.
- Doxing, an abbreviated form of the word documents, is a form of online harassment used to exact revenge and to threaten and destroy the privacy of individuals by making their personal information public, including addresses, social security, credit card and phone numbers, links to social media accounts, and other private data.
As a parent…
As a parent, you need to be the bag guy. If your child is engaged on social media sites you need to be active in monitoring their activity. Some may disagree but teens and preteens DO NOT DESERVE PRIVACY! They need to understand that at any time you can take their phone and log in to all their sites and review their activity. If they don’t agree then they should not have a phone.
- Monitor a teen’s social media sites, apps, and browsing history.
- Review the privacy settings on your child’s phone.
- Follow or friend your teen on social media sites or have another trusted adult do so.
- Stay up-to-date on the latest apps, social media platforms, and digital slang used by children and teens.
- Know your child’s usernames and passwords for email and social media.
- Set rules about appropriate digital behavior, content, and apps.
- Be present and active in your kid’s online life.
When cyberbullying happens, it is important to document and report the behavior so it can be addressed.
Steps to Take Immediately
- Don’t respond to and don’t forward cyberbullying messages.
- Keep evidence of cyberbullying. Record the dates, times, and descriptions of instances when cyberbullying has occurred. Save and print screenshots, emails, and text messages. Use this evidence to report cyberbullying to web and cell phone service providers.
- Block the person who is cyberbullying.
Report Cyberbullying to Online Service Providers
Cyberbullying often violates the terms of service established by social media sites and internet service providers.
- Review their terms and conditions or rights and responsibilities sections. These describe content that is or is not appropriate.
- Visit social media safety centers to learn how to block users and change settings to control who can contact you.
- Report cyberbullying to the social media site so they can take action against users abusing the terms of service.
Report Cyberbullying to Law Enforcement
When cyberbullying involves these activities it is considered a crime and should be reported to law enforcement.
- Threats of violence
- Child pornography or sending sexually explicit messages or photos
- Taking a photo or video of someone in a place where he or she would expect privacy
- Stalking and hate crimes
Report Cyberbullying to Schools
- Cyberbullying can create a disruptive environment at school and is often related to in-person bullying. The school can use the information to help inform prevention and response strategies.
- In many states, schools are required to address cyberbullying in their anti-bullying policy. Some state laws also cover off-campus behavior that creates a hostile school environment.
- Do not take NO for an answer. Advocate for your child!
If you know your child is being a bully online STOP IT AT ONCE! This is not something to be proud of. Children are being charged with felonies after suicide from bullying.
Resources found at Stopbullying.gov