Cyberbullying (Part 1 of 2)
Be prepared… your child might be next!
Part I of a two-part article
by Joel D. Haber, Ph.D.
Before the internet, mean gossip would be whispered or written on notes and passed between students in school: "I hate Susie, she's so mean"; "Karen slept with Bill"; "Jimmy is a total loser." You might have even seen it on the bathroom wall: "For a good time, call…"
"sticks and stones may break my bones" schoolyard idium has a PG rating
compared to new ways bullying over the internet can destroy and
humiliate its targets. The dangers of cyberbulling were made painfully
apparent nearly two years ago when Missouri 16-year-old Megan Meier
committed suicide after falling prey to a cyberbulling campaign
allegedly created by the mother of one of her friends.
grows because of its ease. The trend for children confronting one
another face-to-face and over the telephone is rapidly decreasing. One
can now hurt someone and be indirect - they don't see their target's
immediate reaction or the consequences of their actions. This
impersonal method of communication allows children to be more bold and
brash with their insults, meanness, and conversations. With minimal
computer know-how, these missives can be delivered anonymously, so the
bully feels invulnerable. This is a recipe for an ugly and growing
What is Cyberbullying?
involves threatening or other intentionally offensive behavior sent
online to a target, or posted online about the target for others to see
or hear. How is this new cyberbullying trend playing out over the
internet and in our schools? Here are just a few ways:
picture of a girl leaving the shower in the gym locker room is posted
online without her knowledge, taken knowingly by another student.
online rumor started by a group of boys about a classmate they claimed
to be "gay" is posted on an internet site created for the purpose of
- A middle school "hit list" of the biggest sluts at school is posted on a popular social networking site.
profiles of students and teachers are created which are nasty,
disturbing and meant to harm the targets by exposing their
vulnerabilities in upsetting ways.
- Students relate sexually inappropriate information online about other students to "ruin their reputations".
group purposefully excludes a "friend" from a birthday party,
sleepover, or social gathering, yet makes sure the "friend" receives
emails regarding the event.
The Impact of Cyberbullying
your child is a victim of cyberbullying, the effects can be
long-lasting. It affects their school day, interrupts their academic
performance and social life. Kids worry more about the next taunt than
about their school work. Cyberbullying can lead to lower self esteem,
depression, anxiety, withdrawal from school and peers, and in extreme
cases like Megan's, suicide. That's why as a parent you need to know
about cyberbullying as well as other types of bullying so you can step
in and do something about it.
Types of Cyberbullying
is one of the most dangerous forms of bullying ever in existence, and
is growing rapidly because it is so easy to do. The data is hard to
ignore. Among preteens and teens, cyberbullyiing has increased by over
50% in the last five years, and continues to grow at astonishing rates.
Over a third of all teens report they have had mean, threatening or
embarrassing things said about them online. Yet, under half of all kids
and under a third of teens tell an adult about it.
intentional and meant to hurt. Cyberbullying is the same, just
delivered electronically. Be on the alert for the following types of
- Websites created to harass. Websites are easy and sometimes free to create. They can be set up just to insult someone.
- Impersonation. A student can impersonate another student and send out IM's or emails supposedly from that person.
- Gossip groups.
Message boards, blogs, MySpace pages, and e-mail groups can be used to
bully. Kids discuss kids they don't like and invite others to comment
on the material.
- Photo and video postings. Videos posted
on YouTube or other video-sharing sites can show embarrassing things
done to others or display attacks made on other kids. Homemade video
clips and cell phone attacks can be posted online and even manipulated
through photo-editing software to appear even worse than the original
- Direct bullying. A child can receive a hurtful
message - "Everyone hates you" - delivered by email, instant message or
text message by an unknown screen name or a larger group of kids trying
to be hurtful.
Go to Part II of this article – Cyberbullying: What Parents Can Do To Reduce Cyberbullying Threats.
Haber is a Clinical Psychologist and has devoted more than 20 years in
practice to better parenting and helping children, teens and adults
lead more productive lives.
Comment by kathy, posted 9/25/2008, 2:26 PM: