October was National Bullying Prevention Month, and this year we want to draw attention to a form of bullying affecting 43 percent of kids today: cyberbullying. This type of harassment takes many forms – threatening or cruel messages, rumors spread online, and the sharing of inappropriate photos of someone else just to name a few – and the damage done by cyberbullies is severe.
Psychologists and social scientists have studied the effects of bullying on young people. They’ve discovered that any involvement in bullying can be detrimental to a child’s future; victims of bullying are more likely to develop depression or anxiety-related disorders, while the bullies themselves show an increased risk of trying out criminal activity.
These results are no different for cyberbullies, with one notable exception. Over 40 percent of teens have admitted to being both bullies and victims, meaning they are heavily enmeshed in the dangerous world of cyberbullying.
Can We Stop Cyberbullying?
Some people consider bullying a simple rite of passage, a part of growing up. But as we’ve seen, bullying can cause irreparable damage to a young person’s psyche. Therefore, parents, teachers, coaches, and other authority figures need to step up to help the young people in their lives.
Only one in 10 kids come forward and tell an adult when they are victims of cyberbullying. This is often because they are afraid – if they tell someone about the abuse, they reason, they may not be allowed to use the computer any more. However, if a child does report cyberbullying, a parent, teacher, or even a peer can act as a support system. This can be a real blessing; in fact, statistics have shown that 57 percent of cyberbullies back off when they face confrontation. Talk with the young people in your life and make sure they know to come to you when faced with cyberbullying.
Once a child does tell you about bullying he or she has seen online, what do you do? There are a few steps you can take to make sure that the bully is properly reported to people who will take necessary action. Here are a few suggestions so you can fight cyberbullying head on: