Cyberbullying is no longer a new issue. It has been going on for decades. Yet the Cyberbullying Research Center reports that cyberbullying is at an all time high. In recent years, approximately 1 in 3 students have been victims of cyberbullying. So what exactly is Cyberbullying? What can we do about it?
What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is defined as “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.” It refers to incidents in which adolescents harass, humiliate or threaten their peers. This can happen through text messages, web sites, photographs, videos, social media, gifs, memes, and a number of other new creative methods kids come up with to hassle one another. There is a huge variety in terms of the enormity of these incidents and the outcome. Common outcomes include depression, anger, feelings of isolation, and retaliation.
Problems with addressing cyberbullying
Cyberbullying occurs in every neighborhood, across all demographics. A major issue with cyberbullying is that the attackers can remain anonymous. It’s simple to create a fake email or social media account. Unlike traditional bullying, it can be very difficult to figure out who is responsible. Another factor is the lack of a specific location. These incidents occur virtually, and it is difficult to pinpoint whose jurisdiction policing these matters falls under. Many people disregard cyberbullying as kids just poking fun at each other, or think that since the attacks are virtual there is little effect on the victim.
What can we do about cyberbullying?
In order to stop cyberbullying rates from increasing, and eventually get them to go down, a group effort is needed. First of all everyone needs to recognize that cyberbullying is just as serious of an issue as traditional bullying. These incidents have real-life effects and consequences on our children. If parents, educators, and law enforcement agents aren’t able to accept this, our children are going to be affected continuously.
We also need to take the perspective of victims seriously. Many adults cannot relate to the experience of being cyberbullied, as it was not possible when they were children. However it is incredibly important that we listen to and believe children when they share their experiences. If we are dismissive of the emotions they feel, they will only grow sadder and more isolated.