Most teenagers spend a lot of time on their smart phones, instant messenger, Skype, Instagram, Facebook, sending texts and uploading photos, videos, and music to websites. Along with this digital communication landscape, bullying has moved into cyber space. In fact, last month, we wrote an article about cyber bullying and the liability exposures schools face as a result of this disturbing trend among students.
Parents along with educational institutions need to be aware of the potential risks involved among kids that come from cyber bullying. They need to be educated and vigilant in helping to stem this type of harassment as they would all other harassment. The National Crime Prevention Council has some FAQs regarding cyber bullying that are helpful:
- How are teenagers cyber bullied? Cyber bullying comes in various forms, including a teen pretending to be another person on-line in order to trick someone in some way. Some bullies spread lies and rumors about victims, they scam them into revealing personal information; send or forward mean text messages, or post photos of victims without their consent. Eighty-one percent of teens when asked why they think others cyber bully said that the cyber bully thinks it’s funny and is doing it to get a laugh, doesn’t think it’s a big deal, and doesn’t consider the consequences. What’s more, friends encourage cyber bullies.
- How do teens who are victims of cyber bullying react? Some to try to stop it by blocking communication with the cyber bully, deleting messages without first reading them, speaking with a friend about the bullying, and reporting the problem to an Internet service provider or website moderator. Emotions as a result of being bullied run the gamut – from feeling angry, hurt, embarrassed or cared. They may look to get revenge on the bully, avoid friends and activities, or even cyber bully back.
- What can be done to prevent cyber bullying? Some teenagers refuse to pass along cyber bullying messages, tell friends to stop cyber bullying, block communication with cyber bullies, and report incidents to a trusted adult, such as a parent or teacher. You can help stem bullying by speaking with other students, as well as teachers and school administrators, to develop rules against cyber bullying; raising awareness of the problem in the community by holding an assembly and creating fliers to give to younger kids or parents; and distributing an anti-cyber bullying message with friends.
- What else can be done to remain cyber-safe? First, one should never post or share personal information online (this includes your full name, address, telephone number, school name, parents’ names, credit card number, or Social Security number). Also, don’t disclose Internet passwords with anyone, except parents. Never meet anyone face-to-face whom you only know online. And be sure that teens are speaking to their parents about what they’re doing online.
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