Bullies have been around since the beginning of time. Traditionally, these tormentors have been associated with vicious verbal taunts and teasing. In contemporary times, technology has been a tremendous “boon” for cyber bullies. Lack of supervision, bully anonymity, and victims’ ubiquitous proximity to electronic devices are the main facilitative factors.
What is cyber bullying?
A popular definition denotes cyber bullying as the use of “… the Internet, cell phones or other devices … [in a manner] intended to hurt or embarrass another person.” The concept encompasses a myriad of malfeasance.
Cyber bullying might consist of merely emailing or texting someone with full knowledge such contact is unwanted and unwelcome. Threats of violence, pejorative racial or ethnic slurs, vulgar sexual innuendo, or group ridicule are more severe forms of cyber bullying.
A 2004 study (conducted by I-Safe) which surveyed 1,500 elementary and middle-school pupils showed the following startling statistics:
42% had been bullied online;
35% had been threatened online;
21% had received malicious, threatening, or harassing e-mails or electronic messages;
58% had been the subject of malicious or hurtful public online commentary;
58% did not reveal such cyber bullying instances to parents or another responsible adult.
Studies conducted in other countries have shown similar statistics. Chances are, your child will fall prey to some form of cyber bullying during youth.
An Ounce of Prevention
Parents can take the following proactive steps to prevent cyber bullying:
– Reassure your child that you will not revoke computer or cell phone privileges if cyber bullying should occur;
– Teach your child to ignore and to not respond to derogatory instant messages, emails, or postings by cyber bullies. This will serve as a significant damper on cyber bullies’ malicious designs;
– Set instant messaging and email preferences on your child’s accounts to permit contacts only from known senders. This will protect your child from cyber bullying while online;
– Change your child’s social network profiles or preferences to “private.” Allow contact only from known parties. If harassment persists, contact site administration. They can intervene or terminate the bully’s account, as such actions violate membership Terms and Conditions.
– Teach your child to never reveal passwords, user IDs, or other such access data to anyone.
If All Else Fails
If your child is victimized by a cyber bully, print hard copies of any messages or posts that contain threats or humiliation. Save similar cell phone text messages. Show them to the school principal. Arrange a meeting with the perpetrator’s parents to reach a positive resolution.
Encourage your child to stand up to cyber bully attacks. They should not hesitate to inform a teacher or other adult in authority about the problem.
If any accounts have been hacked or compromised, immediately change passwords, user IDs, or other access data. Advise site administrators about the cyber bullying. Should the problem persist, contact legal authorities.
Threatening another person is a serious criminal offense.
About the Author
Crissie C. Luckey, JD is a freelance writer for MyCollegesandCareers.com. My Colleges and Careers helps people determine if an online education is right for them and helps them understand which online courses they can choose from to reach their goals. The site even helps students decide if military online colleges are what they are looking for.