Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Identifying, Intervening, Surviving and Preventing Bullying – A Series: Cyberbullying…When Peers Are Predators Too

Not so long ago we only had to worry about the online threat of strangers.  Predators were those from far away who used technology to gain access to our children and subsequently harm them with abuse and exploitation.  But times have changed and the digital age has opened up a new world where our children’s peers are now predators as well.

Cyberbullying and digital abuse are quickly becoming the main issue facing tweens and teens today.

  • 1 out of 5 children is or will be cyberbullied (US Dept. of Justice)
  • 43% of teens ages 13 to 17 have experienced cyberbullying in the past year
  • 1 million children were cyberbullied on Facebook during the past year

EdTechmagazine.com has created a great infographic that displays just how real and significant cyberbullying is… we encourage you to check it out.

So what exactly is cyberbullying? It is threatening, harassing or aggressive behavior by one or more children or teens toward another using digital technology such as the Internet or cell phones. Unlike bullying, cyberbullying does not have to be a repeated behavior nor does the behavior need to take place between persons of unequal power. 

Cyberbullying can include:
1.     Spreading rumors or posting false information
2.     Sending harassing messages
3.     Posting compromising or altered images
4.     Persuading others to act in this same manner
5.     Posting private information
6.     Bullying others while impersonating the victim

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children does a great job of explaining cyberbullying through a series of videos titled “Real Life Stories.” These videos feature stories shared by actual teens and are appropriate for tweens and teens, and they are also appropriate for adults who wish to gain a better understanding of cyberbullying and its devastating consequences.

As we learned in a previous post, cyberbullying tends to begin in middle school, increase in the later middle school years and peak in high school, therefore education and prevention must start early and continue throughout all school years.  In the next post, we will examine the signs indicating your child may be the victim of a bully or cyberbully. In future posts, we will also discuss why and how to intervene in bullying situations, share resources for prevention and more.  Check back for future posts so you and your children can become educated and empowered to speak up and stay safe.

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