Social media sites can be used for positive activities, like connecting kids with friends and family, helping students with school, and for entertainment. But these tools can also be used to hurt other people.
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites. When a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using these devices this is called Cyberbullying.
Cyber bullying is often a systemic attempt to get another child or teen to feel bad about him or herself through electronic communication. It usually includes leaving demeaning messages on someone’s Facebook page, uploading embarrassing photos, or spreading gossip or rumors through instant messaging and text messaging.
“I’m jumping and I can’t take it anymore.”
This is the note left few days ago by Rebecca Sedwick to a friend, before scaling a tower at an abandoned cement plant near her Lakeland home, walking to the edge and stepping out.
As the authorities suppose, it was yearlong digital war of words waged via smartphone and social media for pushing the emotionally fragile 12-year-old over the edge. Words like “You’re ugly” and “Go kill yourself.” are an example of what the girl received.
“Unlike victims of traditional bullying, Cyberbullying victims get no relief when they leave the school yard. The bullies can follow them home, sit at the dinner table with them, and even come into their bedroom at night“, says Meg Fryling, an assistant professor of computer science at Siena College, who researches Cyberbullying.
In Florida, Cyberbullying is not considered a criminal offense. However, cyberstalking is. It is unclear how many young people have been charged in Central Florida with cyberstalking , a statute that would also cover adults who make online threats against each other.
In the last years the scenery has seen a lot of Cyberbullying cases; as Rebecca, there are a lot of children who have had to suffer and suffer in the face of threats, abuse and insults.
Kenneth Weishuhn, a gay high school freshman from Paullina, Iowa, took his own life after being bullied by classmates at school and online, and with death threats by phone. The bullying began with an anti-gay Facebook group, created by Kenneth’s classmates. His mother, Jeannie Chambers, said she knew her son was being harassed, and said that her son told her, “Mom, you don’t know how it feels to be hated.”
Like loaded guns, cell phones and other technology devices are a risk-reward proposition. In the right hands, they can protect. In the wrong hands, they can cause irreparable harm.
Parents, teachers and community service agencies need to work together to educate young people about acceptable online behavior. “Some parents need to be educated as well as to what Cyberbullying is and how hurtful it is”, as said Marcia Ellis, children and youth program manager for the National Crime Prevention Council.
It is important to look for signs that your child is being bullied or is a cyber bully. Yes, if a parent finds a way to monitor such activity, the child [often] will find a workaround to conceal it , but in both cases, it is important to stop the problem by looking for causes of the bullying behavior. The motives for cyber bullying are rather wide ranging, so it is important to find out the reasons behind the behavior so that a solution can be found. It is usually possible to print the screen showing the offending action. Additionally, it is possible to trace the IP address of the user, and locate the computer from which the cyber bullying is taking place. This can help prevent further incidents.
Additionally, it may be necessary to help children and teenagers involved by getting them counseling and helping them understand how to overcome the problem.