Cyber Bullying Facts and Prevention
Fact: Every 7 minutes, a child is bullied.
One of the strongest memories I have of elementary school is the one where I am lying down in the nurse’s office, again. It’s dark where I lay and although I am physically fine, I have knots in my stomach. The kind of knots that that come from believing that you have no friends, no one to play with and everyone hates you. And so every day, just before recess, I would fake a headache, stomach ache, tooth ache, or practically any ache to be sent to the nurse’s office and not outside on that playground where they told me they were waiting for me. On this particular day, I remember my teacher coming in to tell me that I was “crying wolf” and he’s aware that I’m not actually sick. In that moment, I was told that I can no longer visit the nurse’s office and I must go out to play. Well I sure went out, but I didn’t get to play that day.
Perhaps my teacher wasn’t aware of the warning signs of bullying. Perhaps he was never bullied. I doubt it. Statistics say that 80 percent of kids get bullied. Perhaps because of my experiences I am hyper aware. Today, I use my past to relate to my students and to do everything in my power to end bullying in schools. Unfortunately, with the advent of the Internet and mobile devices, things just got a little more complicated.
Fact: Over 80% of teens use a cell phone regularly, making it the most common medium for cyber bullying.
The Internet is arguably the most impressive invention of the 20th century. The accessibility and low cost make it a ubiquitous feature in schools among today’s generation. This is an amazing tool that advances learning, connects us globally, and provides commerce worldwide. It’s found its way onto mobile devices and it’s here to stay.
A great design of multi-networks allows the Internet to function so efficiently. However, it is also why the Internet is so difficult to manage and regulate. As a result, Internet crimes are rampant. Minimal regulation is only part of the infinite security issues the Internet presents for minors. The other is anonymity.
When a person can hide behind their computer, create false accounts and feel sure that their identity will be unknown, the harassment that they unleash is uniquely disturbing. In my past, I was scared to go onto the playground. But in class and at home, I felt safe. Cyber Bullying allows the bully to harass any time of day, through a variety of methods. The victim has no safe place.
Fact: Only 1 in 10 victims will inform a parent or trusted adult of their abuse.
Cyber bullying is one of the worst forms of harassment for many reasons. First, those in authority positions that can help rarely step up and fill that role. The victim usually keeps the bullying a secret in fear of embarrassment or worsening the situation. The parents claim they cannot keep up with their child’s technical interests and/or rarely see the bullying attacks take place. Parents may take the stance that this is part of growing up and it is important to let the child learn to fight their own battles. Schools don’t have much jurisdiction on events that happen off campus or after school hours. Police hesitate to get involved unless a crime has been committed. Unfortunately, all of this passing the bill has the child left to deal with this problem alone. Cyber bullying only gets worse when it must be dealt with it alone.
Fact: 68% of teens agree that cyber bullying is a serious problem.
Kids are volatile and vulnerable during this stage of development. Parents are simply unaware of the potential dangers of online and cell phone communications. Advances in technology have sprung up so quickly that schools are simply not prepared to educate students on proper online etiquette and the government cannot regulate it.
Cyber bullying tactics can have extreme effects on young developing minds. Do you remember what it was like to get through middle school? Do you remember trying to find a balance between fitting in and making your own way? Can you remember a time during your adolescence when you made a poor decision? Perhaps you spread a rumor about someone in retaliation for making you feel bad, or maybe you told a secret to someone in hopes they would like you more, or (yikes!) flashed a private body part in a moment of crazed delusion!? Years ago these instances might cause you a few days of harassment but would eventually fade away into the “Who Said What” realm. Today, if a kid chooses to use online devices as part of that poor decision making, that action stays with them forever.
According to the statistics, most kids have been a victim, perpetrator or witness to cyber bullying. It is our responsibility as educators to learn about the signs, facts and prevention policies of cyber bullying so that our students can learn in a safe and supportive environment. In our course, Cyber Bullying Facts and Prevention, you will learn the warning signs of cyber bullying and tactics to deal with bullying. Every state in the nation deals with cyber bullying differently. Compare your state’s laws with the laws of Texas, Oregon, Ohio, or Pennsylvania. Learn the common tactics employed by cyber bullies including, bash pages, identity theft and social media smears. One of the most heart-wrenching projects of the course is reading the real-life stories of the victims of cyber bullying. The course leaves educators with the tools, resources and information to stop cyber bullying in their schools. All educators must take a course like this. Spread the word, be aware.
There is a danger much greater than the old bully waiting for you on the playground. This battle is different, more sophisticated, but definitely winnable.