Cyberbullying: The basic facts

Stop Cyberbullying

What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is bullying done through electronic means, typically texting, social media or gaming platforms.

How do kids cyberbully?

There are several typical paths that cyberbullying takes, including:

  • Sending insults to the victim
  • Sending threats to the victims, or inviting them to hurt themselves
  • Spreading rumors about the victims
  • Spreading embarrassing pictures or videos of the victim
  • Creating a hurtful website about the victim
  • Posting hurtful things about the victim’s religion, race, sexual orientation or disability.

Perpetrators frequently use anonymous or false identities when engaging in cyberbullying. Some will attempt to get close to the victim under false identity in order to gain private information about him, information that can later be used to detrimental effect.

Why is cyberbullying so harmful?

Cyberbullying may be especially harmful due to its persistence, publicity and permanence. Unlike traditional bullying, which ends when the victim removes himself from the situation, cyberbullying can occur around the clock, and follow the victim wherever she goes. Bullying frequently involves public shaming, and in the case of cyberbullying the audience may be most members of the school or community. And finally – information that is spread online is frequently difficult to erase, and may follow the victim for many years.

How frequently does it occur?

According to recent studies, about a quarter of all middle and high school students reported experiencing cyberbullying. One in ten students experienced such bullying within the previous month. About thirty percent of all middle school and high school children admitted they participated in cyberbullying.

Is there a difference in genders?

Yes. Girls are more likely than boys to be involved in cyberbullying, both as perpetrators and as victims.

Is there any relation online cyberbullying and real-world bullying?

Yes. Cyberbullying and bullying frequently follow each other. A girl who was shamed online might encounter negative comments from peers walking in her school halls, while a girl who is beat up at school might receive hurtful texts at the after-school hours.

What are the effects of cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying causes severe anguish and anxiety in many of its victims. It frequently disrupts the victim’s ability to engage in school or social functions. It may lead to anxiety, depression, and at times – even suicide attempts.

Is cyberbullying illegal?

While the laws and policies differ from state to state, every state and territory of the United States enacted anti-bullying laws, and many have made special provisions regarding cyberbullying. It is more likely to lead to legal ramifications if:

  • It creates a hostile school environment which prevents the victim from pursuing his or her education
  • It includes threats of violence
  • It includes pictures or videos that were taken when the victim was likely to expect privacy
  • It includes child pornography, such as pictures of the victims in naked or semi-naked states
  • It includes hate crimes, such as negative comments regarding the victim’s gender, race, ethnicity, religion, disability or sexual orientation.

What can be done?

Actions against cyberbullying are being taken all across the United States, on various levels.

  • Governmental – Most states have created laws criminalizing some forms of cyberbullying. Many have created taskforces dedicated to diminishing this form of abuse.
  • School – Most school in the United States have explicit policies regarding bullying and cyberbullying. It is difficult for school authorities to find out about cyberbullying. However, once they have been informed, most will do their utmost to come to the victims’ aid.
  • Parents – Parents should be aware of their children’s online activities, something that a parental awareness app such a Jiminy can be very helpful with.
  • Teens – Teen organizations against cyberbullying are active across the country. (If you wish to join the effort, we would recommend https://www.pacerteensagainstbullying.org.

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