With the explosive growth in the popularity of social media applications, smart phones, laptop computers, and other modes of inter-personal communication, cyber bullying is rapidly becoming a major source of disruption at schools throughout the country. Cyber bullies often think that what they do is funny, but bullied students are true victims of violence; they may suffer depression, their grades may decline, and unfortunately, there is a growing number of bullied students that are driven to take their own lives.
Cyber bullying takes many shapes and forms, including:
- The sending of aggressive, threatening or mean messages to another person’s email or cell phone
- The spreading of hurtful and/or malicious rumors about a person, using web sites, email accounts, social networks or cell phones.
- The stealing of a person’s cyber identities (e.g., email account) and their use to attack, threaten or malign this person or others.
- The use of real or fake identities to initiate, sustain and develop sexually-oriented interaction with youth or adults on the web.
- The use of websites, email accounts or cell phones to post, disseminate and distribute unflattering or sexually oriented images about a person.
Though cyber bullying is a relatively new social phenomenon, the statistics are quite alarming:
- Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying.
- More than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyber threats online.
- Over 25 percent of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the Internet.
- Well over half of young people do not tell their parents when cyber bullying occurs.
Source: i-Safe Foundation
Dealing with Cyber Bullying
Teens, adults, parents, schools, social organizations, web-based organizations and local and state authorities can and should fight cyber bullying without delay.
Here are some of the actions that every person and/or responsible authority should take:
- Seek professional advice, from people who are at the forefront of the cyber bullying fight.
- Increase Awareness – Learn, educate yourself and your environment and do not ignore signs of cyber bullying.
- Educate your students and your staff about cyber bullying, explain why and how it is wrong and potentially hurtful.
- Establish and enforce clear rules designed to mitigate against committing and being a victim of cyber bullying.
- Inculcate a culture of ethical cyber culture within your family, organization, company.
- Create an atmosphere of openness, conducive to discussion, disclosure and reporting of cyber bullying.
- Monitor teen and youngsters’ online activities.
- Report signs of cyber bullying to the authorities, to school administrators and to social network operators.
- Encourage teens never to share personal information online or to meet someone they only know online.
Cyber Bullies Pay Dearly Too
Educators and parents recognize that cyber bullying may become a major problem for the bullies as well:
- Evidence of aggressive, even criminal online activities during middle and high school may reflect badly on them later when the young adult applies for college or a job.
- Cyber bullies can lose their cell phone or online accounts.
- Cyber bullies and their parents may face legal and criminal charges.
- If a cyber bullying activity is sexual in nature or involved sexting, the results can include the bully being registered as a sex offender.
TAL Global’s multi-disciplinary team of school security experts brings together a unique blend of experience, knowledge and innovative solutions that can make a real change for the better.
Call us to tell us about your specific challenges, and to learn more about cyber bullying mitigation.