Social Media Makes Cyberbullying More Dangerous
The majority of us may never fall victim to cyberbullying but it's still a very real issue facing young adults and parents across the globe. In fact, there are increased reports of adults being targeted by bullies for publishing critical blogs challenging the status quo, with some going as far as to send death threats to the blogger. So, cyberbullying is not limited to an age group but research shows that more than 20% of teenage girls have been victim to cyberbullying. With young adults having increased access to social tools and mobile devices, cyberbullying no longer ends when school is over.
Why Cyberbullying is more dangerous
"Cyberbullying is when someone repeatedly harasses, mistreats, or makes fun of another person online or while using cell phones or other electronic devices." via Cyberbullying Research Center
Access to electronic devices like smartphones that capture photos, videos and have the ability to upload to video sites or be sent through a mass SMS message within seconds mean the bullying never ends. Reports of teens recording fights, sexual assaults and more have been in the news with several being caught after sharing it on their Facebook pages.
There are even sites dedicated to publishing and promoting teen fight videos which doesn't warrant a link.
Teens already dealing with the pressures of fitting in now have to fear being targeted by bullies, who can easily smear their reputation with a few clicks of the mouse. The most dangerous part is this content lives on well after the damage is done, a daily reminder to the victim.
After the tragic suicide of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, anti-bullying measures have been taken in United States and across the globe. Recently, Australia enacted laws that consider work-place bullying and cyberbullying part of their State Crimes Act which are punishable by hefty prision times (10yrs) and stiff fines.
However, In the United States while the laws may be getting more strict, "'A lot of prosecutors just don't have the energy to prosecute 13-year-olds for being mean,' said Parry Aftab, an attorney and child advocate who runs stopcyberbullying.org. 'Parents are all feeling very frustrated, and they just don't know what to do.' Almost every state has a law or other policy prohibiting cyberbullying, but very few cover intimidation outside of school property." via The AP
The AP reports that laws and school policies haven't protected some students, so parents are resorting to civil lawsuits and going after the bullies with libel suits.
Currently, 40 States don't include off-campus behaviors in their school policies on bullying. So, what are parents to do?
It starts with the community
Motherly Law points out that ending cyberbullying or any bullying for that matter, needs to starting with the community.
"...the battle can be won by adults and teens standing tall against those who are weak and feel they must act out in hatred, in violence and in depravity to look and feel strong. We can show them a better way of dealing with fear, weakness and misunderstanding. We can show them that everyone matters and our differences can be our strong points."
We need to help educate our children on best practices around using these social tools and the serious consequences if they are used to harass or hurt others.
Cyberbullying Research Center, an organization dedicated to the awareness and prevention of cyberbullying created a list of ten tips to prevent cyberbullying,
1. Educate yourself
2. Protect your password
3. Keep photos “PG”
4. Never open unidentified or unsolicited messages
5. Log out of online accounts
6. Pause before you post
7. Raise awareness
8. Setup privacy controls
9. “Google” yourself
10. Don’t be a cyberbully yourself
Parents, What best practices can you share when talking to your children about cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying laws [PDF]
Preventing Cyberbullying [PDF]
Image Credit: Bigstock Photo