Stand Up to Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying has become a huge problem in this
day and age. Unfortunately, many parents may not be aware of the issues
and concerns cyberbullying involves because it is such a new epidemic
that they did not have to deal with during their childhoods.
Cyberbullying, also known as cyber-harassment or cyber-stalking,
involves incidents in which kids and teens are embarrassed, harassed,
humiliated, threatened or tormented by their peers online. It may
involve one person stalking, targeting or otherwise tormenting one other
person, or it may involve entire groups targeting one other person or
another group. In order to be considered cyberbullying, both parties
involved must be minors. The scariest and most horrific aspect of
cyberbullying is that because it’s perpetrated online, it doesn’t end in
the schoolyard – it can follow a kid, preteen or teen everywhere he or
she goes and infiltrate every aspect of his or her personal life. In the
most extreme cases, it has even led to suicide.
What Constitutes Cyberbullying?
While there are often one-time incidents of ill will and unkind words
between adolescents in chat groups and on social media sites such as
Facebook, these do not usually constitute cyberbullying unless they
include an extreme threat (i.e. murder or serious bodily harm). In most
cases, the threats, hurtful posts, rude gossip and embarrassing rumors
or pictures spread throughout the Internet must be ongoing to constitute
cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can have serious effects on the psyche of a
young child or teen, which are often quite devastating during this
fragile time in life, particularly for someone who already feels like
they don’t quite “fit in.”
What can be done?
Parents can prevent cyberbullying by limiting children’s access to chat
rooms and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. This can
help prevent bullies from attacking, as well as protect those being
bullied. However, such limitations may not always work. It’s practically
impossible to go without an email address these days, and even if
parents control their children’s access to sites like Facebook at home,
there are always other places where they could be creating and accessing
When a child comes to a parent with cyberbullying
issues or if a parent suspects it is happening, there are several
possible courses of action. Criminal charges can be pursued, for
example. This typically results in blockage of the culprit’s ISP or IM
accounts, or even federal criminal charges in the case of hacking and/or
password theft. The most important thing parents can do is to be aware
of the issue and talk with their children about it regularly.
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