What is Cyber bullying? For starters, what is bullying? The actual definition is "Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior usually among school aged children that deals with a real or perceived power imbalance. Bullying behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose."
What is cyber bullying?
Now the question is, what is cyber bullying? How do we define such an act as a society? Cyber bullying stands for "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. Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles."
our words impact others
There is an old saying that goes, “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” That saying is a lie, a complete utterly lie! Something that we as a society have to think about is that our words carry have an enormous impact on people, more than we sometimes think. They often impact people for decades, providing the motivation to keep going or a horrible reason to give up.
Trapped in a nightmare
Amanda was born in 1996 in British Columbia, Canada, and was a happy easy going person, until she was introduced to an anonymous person on Facebook who flattered her so much to the point of convincing her to flash her topless body to him. A year later, the same person or another anonymous person sent her the picture and it went viral, creating a mass of bullying and teasing to the point that she had to change schools several times. Her reputation was ruined, she had no friends, she was beaten up by some classmates, she tried drinking bleach but was saved at the last minute. Months later, Amanda Todd took her own life.After her death, her Youtube video went viral to the point of reaching more than 17 million views. People were shocked when they learned about the Amanda Todd Story and reached out to her family. The authorities began a mass inquiry especially with the inspiration and the help of Amanda’s bullying video. To the shock of everyone, the hate campaign continued online after Amanda’s passing, people ridiculed her suicide and made fun of the entire story, they even said she deserved what had happened to her. The cyber bullying continued despite appeals for people to see the real tragedy behind Amanda’s death.
The rise in cyber bullying is happening due to the rise in social media platforms that allow the user to remain anonymous which makes the bully anonymous. -Carol Todd (Amandas mother)
The sad truth
The reality is that the people who bullied and tormented Amanda still walk the streets everyday thinking their hate and actions mean nothing while in fact every comment they have made about her while she was alive or after her death, brings so much pain to the people who loved her. Remember that words do hurt and scar, sometimes beyond repair.
Why Cyber Bullying needs to stop
Cyber bullying needs to stop because regardless if the action is happening through a screen, or face to face, bullying of any kind can affect the mental health, academic work, and physical health of any person who is targeted.Some studies have shown that cyberbullying can be even more traumatizing than traditional forms of bullying. Through social media and mobile communications, bullying can be seen by all of the victims friends, family, and acquaintances. As a result, the embarrassment, shame, and other more severe consequences of bullying can become even more severe.
Is cyber bullying a crime?
Something t0 keep in mind is that almost all states have bullying laws in place, many with cyberbullying or electronic harassment provisions.Until recently, no laws specifically addressed cyberbullying. But legislators have not been blind to the increasing number of high-publicity incidents, including tragic results in certain cases (suicides and school shootings.) As such, cyberbullying may often be treated as a civil, rather than a criminal charges. Interesting fact is, prosecutors have used existing laws on the books to prosecute individuals suspected of cyberbullying.
approximately 80% of people use smart phones regularly, 92% of teens report going online at least once a day, and 60% go online several times a day. With so much high online activity going on, teens either witness cyberbullying, and or are a victim to cyber bullying, and or become a perpetrator. Cyberbullying is on the rise, and the impact of the causable damage is underestimated. The truth is, it's incredibly easy to bully someone through the internet. Sometimes the bullying could happen accidentally.
How to prevent cyber bullying
There are many things a person/parent/child/teenager can do to prevent cyberbullying. The internet can be a dangerous place for anyone and being proactive on future possible situations is always a good thing.
Be Aware of What Your Kids are Doing Online Talk with your kids about cyberbullying and other online issues regularly. This can apply for children and teenagers surfing the web, knowing what they can and what they should't do online. With that said, Encourage kids and everybody to report immediately if they, or someone they know, is being cyberbullied.
How to protect yourself
Learn and educate yourself about your privacy settings. Investigate what steps you can do to keep content private and on social media you use. On Facebook and other social networking sites, you can adjust your settings so that only the people you choose are able to see your personal information and your posts. It’s important to check these privacy settings frequently, because sites sometimes change their policies.
Think before you post. Never forget that the internet is public. What you put out there can never be erased. If you wouldn’t say something in a room full of strangers, don’t say it on the internet. Even letting someone know sensitive or embarrassing information about you through email can have drastic consequences.
Keep personal information personal. Don’t reveal identifying details about yourself—address, phone number, school, credit card number, etc.—online. Passwords exist for a reason; sharing them with friends is like passing out copies of your house key to friends and strangers alike. If anyone besides you knows your passwords, it should be your parents and your parents only.
Being an Ally
Being cyberbullied is one of the scariest things that can happen to someone. A lot of victims refuse to speak up, for embarrassment, shame, or threatened. Regardless if a victim is a friend, neighbor, stranger, anybody can help. Here are some helpful hints to help out anybody.
If you or someone you know knows a victim. Remind the victim that they haven't done anything to deserve this, and no matter what, they don't deserve to be treated this way. Deep down, they know this, but when they hear you say it, they may feel more at ease talking about it.
Help your friend talk with a trusted adult at home or at school about it, but don't speak for them unless they ask you to.
If you have to, report the cyberbullying to an adult you trust. If you think the bullying is so serious that threats are involved, contact the police.
If you don't feel comfortable speaking about the situation, you can always report your friend's problem to a trusted adult with an anonymous letter.
If it feels safe to do so, take a stand by commenting on a post or photo. Keep your language neutral, don't be confrontational. Maybe try this: “I'm unfollowing this thread because it's hurtful. Others should do the same.”
Once you speak up, other people are more likely to speak up, too.
If the cyberbullying is happening on a social networking site, report it as abusive. Administrators will likely place restrictions on, or even bans anyone who is operating in violation of their anti-abuse policies and standards.
If it's safe, ask the person to stop. If you know the individual, call them and ask them why this is going on. Tell them you disapprove and ask them to stop.
Check back with your friend from time to time and see how they're doing. Show them that, as bad as this person was to them, the world has kindness, too.
Remember that you or your friend can always call Kids Help Phone to speak with a counsellor if you feel you're in over your head. It's always anonymous and confidential: 1-800-668-6868, and if you don't feel like talking, just contact them online at kidshelpphone.ca.