“I’m a huge advocate for trying to put a complete end to bullying. If you know somebody or if you are being bullied yourself, it’s really important that you step out and say something. The end of bullying begins with us.”
– Demi Lovato, singer-songwriter
K-12 bullies have taken their antics from classrooms to chat rooms. Cyber safety has become one of the hottest topics in society today, especially with the growing list of cyber-bully victims who have committed suicide in the last couple of years, including Amanda Todd, Hannah Smith, Audrie Pott, and Rehtaeh Parsons.
Kids are vulnerable to cyber-bullying 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and have no control over what bullies post online. We need to teach our children not to stand silently while others are being tormented.
What is Cyber-bullying?
Cyber-bullying is bullying that takes place through digital channels. Examples of cyber-bullying include malicious rumors, taunting messages and harmful photos/videos sent via texts, emails, social media, or other online forums.
As our lives become more and more intertwined with the Internet, it is important for parents to realize that children and teens are connected to the Internet via smartphones, computers, and tablets now more than ever before. Today’s youths are proficient in using new technologies and are exposed to the Internet from an early age. It’s important to be aware of the sites they are visiting; everything from online forums, chat rooms, social networking sites and photo/video sharing sites.
Consider these findings about youth on the web and cyber bullying:
- According to 2011 Consumer Reports, one million children had been harassed, threatened or subjected to other forms of cyber bullying on social networks during the past year. On the same report, Consumer Reports found that of the 20 million minor who actively used social networks in the past year, over one third were younger than 13 and not supposed to be able to use the site.
- From 2007 to 2011, on average about 24% of the students who have been part of the studies from the Cyber-bullying Research Center have indicated to be a victim of cyber bullying at some point in their lifetime.
- From a nationally representative sample of 824 middle and high school students aged 13 through 17, researchers found that slightly more than four in ten teens experienced some form of cyber bullying in that past year. The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) commissioned the study to Harris Interactive.
Deadly Effects of Cyber-bullying
What’s even more alarming than the statistics provided is the connection between bullying and youth suicide.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in approximately 4,600 lives lost each year. Through a nationwide survey of youth in grades 9 to 12 in public and private schools in the United States, in 2012 the CDC found that 16% of students reported seriously considering suicide, 13% reported creating a plan, and 8% reported trying to take their own life in the 12 months preceding the survey.
Studies around the world are finding out about the correlation between bullying and suicide rates among youth. After reviewing studies from 13 different countries, Yale School of Medicine’s Child Study Center reported that some studies indicated that bullying victims were up to 9 times more likely to report suicidal thoughts than other children were. BullyingStatistics.org reports that a study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying.
How Can You Stop Cyber-bullying?
It’s time to put an end to cyber-bullying. Cyber security is our shared responsibility and we are committed to stopping the invisible bully. Here are some specific steps that you can take against cyber-bullying.
- If you are a parent, guardian or teacher, learn the behavior signs that can help you identify if a child or teen is a victim of cyber-bullying. Show compassion, encouragement and support to those who are targets of bullying behavior.
- Have a conversation with your child or teen about cyber-bullying and how to react to it. A key part of this is to save evidence, so you need to build trust with them so that they are willing to share that evidence with you.
- The NCPC reports that almost 80% of teens said that they either didn’t have parental rules about Internet use or found ways around the rules. The Anti-Defamation League and the CyberBullying Seminar provide some good detailed resources on this topic.
- Ignorance about the Internet and any social network is not an excuse. Learn about the sites that your children and teens are visiting and when appropriate have access to their passwords. Be part of the conversation and take interest in their online activities, and when in doubt about a site, ask him or her about it. Learn to navigate the web and social networking sites such as Twitter.
- If your child younger than 13 years old is using social networks, then you have the option to delete the account on your own or ask the social network to by using its report an underage child form. For children over 13 years old, you can ask him or her to add you as a friend so that you can view his or her activity. While there is a fine line between privacy and security with older teenagers, the important point is to build trust between each other and have an honest conversation about what appropriate online behavior is.
- Support organizations that are helping to address the problem of cyber bullying. One campaign that has reached places around the globe is The Be BOLD Campaign., a photographic campaign created by Photographer Susan Goble and Anti-Bullying Activist Joanne Greenwood. Among the many supporters from this great initiative is Carol Todd, the mother of bullying victim, Amanda Todd. You can learn more about Amanda’s legacy at http://amandatoddlegacy.org and join the Be BOLD Campaign at http://bebold.ca.
- For more information about how to prevent cyber-bullying, visit www.stopcyberbullying.org.
- If you are a blogger, show your support for the efforts from the NCPC against cyber-bullying by uploading its public service announcements available on its YouTube channel, and banners at your blog or site.
“Be BOLD” video:
“Illumniate Cyberbullying” video:
Taking a Stand Against Cyber Bullying
As the Web becomes more and more social, social logins are a common source of registration at sites. We work hard to help identify fake profiles online, which are commonly used for malicious behavior such as cyber-bullying.
Let’s take a stand and help put an end to cyber-bullying by creating a generation of good cybercitizens. Silence, when others are being hurt, is unacceptable. The end of bullying begins with us!
by Tanis Jorge, COO of Trulioo.com