Throughout history, bullying has been a prevalent issue within the lives of millions of children. Unfortunately, many children have been physically, socially, and/or emotionally bullied primarily during school hours. However, with the current rise of technology the evolution of a new form of bullying has rapidly gained public attention. Like the name suggests, cyber bullying is a form of bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Some scenarios many children experience are receiving disrespectful text messages, rumours posted on social media sites, as well as “embarrassing” pictures being sent via web (Stop bullying, n.d). Check out this video that provides an in-depth look on cyber-bullying.
Cyber bullying is different from any other form of bullying as it can take place 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Unlike physical and social bullying that typically occur during school hours, many children can not escape this nightmare as it often follows them when they log onto the internet. Bullies may also find it easier to tease and harass others online as they are able to hide behind a computer screen. Hiding behind a screen allows the bully to not see the negative emotionally response their actions are imposing, thus making it easier to say or post hurtful comments. Individuals are also able to remain anonymous on many platforms, such as ask.fm. Remaining anonymous gives children the sense that they can say whatever they like because of the untraceable nature of these sites. According to nobullying.com 52% of youth have experienced cyber bullying. Although this percentage is high, think about all the unreported cases!
Cyberbullying poses many negative effects on victims. According to nobullying.org many children who are cyberbullying skip school, experience a decrease in school performance, as well as a decrease in self-confidence. Cyberbullying has also led to self harm and even suicide in many adolescents. For example, Amanda Todd took her own life after being severely bullied online as well as in person. Her cry for help was not noticed until after her help as her video became viral. Overall, since 2003 there have been 41 suicides in Canada, United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom which have been triggered by cyberbullying. To learn more about the rising suicide rates related to cyberbullying click this link.
These harmful effects leave families devastated as many are unaware of what is happening when their children log onto their technological devices. It is important that families are aware of the signs of cyberbullying as mentioned about before it is too late.
With that being said, what can we do to stop the rising rates of cyberbullying? Many strategies and organizations are devoted to putting a stop as well as creating more awareness of cyberbullying!
If you reading my blog and are currently experiencing cyberbullying or any form of bullying, the first step is to tell someone! This can be a parent/caregiver, a trusted teacher, or even your best friend. Tell someone who you are confident that can help put a stop to your negative experience. However, if you feel that you are not ready to talk to someone Kids Help Phone is an excellent resource. By calling 1 800 668 6868 you will speak to a trained individual who maintains confidentiality, you do not even have to tell them your name! Perhaps, by calling Kids Help Phone you can seek advice on what to do in your particular bullying situation.
If you are a parent/caregiver it is important to maintain an open communication with your children as you educate them about the harmful effects of bullying. Many children who are new to social media may not understand the effects of writing a hurtful comment that they may deem “funny.” However, informing them on what the other person feels behind their computer screen may create a more empathetic understanding. It is also important for children to understand not to be a bystander! Even in online environments, its easy to be a bystander as many children witness hurtful comments being said on a Facebook page. Rather then clicking to view something else, teach children that it is imperative that they say something because perhaps the child being bullied is too nervous to speak up. A great film to show your children to further educate about this topic is entitled Cyberbully as it follows an adolescent girls journey as she finds her voice to face her cyberbullying experience.
As a future educator, I find it imperative to teach my students about cyberbullying as well. There are many experiences that are easy to provide in the classroom. By using this Toolkit, it provides various lessons and strategies that educators can implement from elementary, middle, and high school. Just like parents, it is equally as important to understand the signs of cyberbullying as well as educate students on the safe use of the internet.
Here are some methods that you can educate children about cyberbullying
- Read the story entitled “Bully” – this story is intended for children in grades 3-5 and examines the issue of cyberbullying in a fictional story. Read this to your child or classroom and have a discussion about how they would feel if they were being bullied online. This is a great way to develop empathy as children are less likely to bully others if they are able to place themselves into others shoes
- Play cyberbullying bingo that reinforces concepts and strategies in order to not give into cyberbullying
- Post the 10 Golden Rules in the classroom or at home!
Let’s work to create a harmonious online. With effort and education I believe we can put a stop to cyberbullying!