Exploring the Complex Landscape of Cyberbullying and Its Impact on Youth
The Evolution of Bullying: Enter Cyberbullying
Bullying has been around since the beginning of time. Even though times have changed, bullying is still around and has taken to a new form. That form has now evolved into the cyber world. Cyberbullying is different than the traditional form of bullying. It has major causes and effects on children and adults. Cyberbullying happens very frequently and is rising as the years pass and technology advances. Bullying is never ok, but due to the many ways people can use the internet, cyberbullying has now increased this problem dramatically. “Nearly 43% of kids have been bullied online.” Also, nearly 50% say that they have participated in cyberbullying.
The Silent Epidemic: Why Kids Don’t Speak Up
“70% of students report seeing frequent bullying online. 90% of teens who have seen social media bullying say they have ignored it. 84% have seen others tell cyberbullies to stop.” The problem with bullying is that sometimes children will join in or ignore a situation that they see going on to try and make sure they don’t get bullied as well. This is why most cyberbullies are able to get away with their actions. That being said, 90% of kids have seen Something going on and did nothing about it, which shows that a lot of children are scared that they might get some repercussions for doing the right thing. This event is not a message we want to send to our youth. Nor should we allow them to stand idly by as it happens to one of their peers.
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Parents’ Role in Addressing Cyberbullying
There are ways that Parents and or Guardians can monitor and teach children about bullying to help bring an end to it. “Only 1 in 10 victims will tell a parent or trusted adult of their abuse.” Those numbers alone show how much of an effect cyberbullying has on the youth. Victims of cyberbullying should be heard, and those numbers could be 100%, and that can be easily accomplished with some simple steps. A parent should know the websites in which their children are using. “About 75% of children have visited a website that bashes another student. About 58% of the kids admit someone has said mean or hurtful things to them online. More than 4 out of 10 say it has happened more than once.” Parents can either get their passwords, ask one of their friends, or follow them on their social media to make sure they aren’t the victims of bullying or the bully.
Parents or guardians must act hastily because you might not get the whole truth of the situation. Talk to your children and understand what is happening in their lives; just knowing their home life is insufficient; know what happened at school throughout the day or the online life when they got home. Encouraging children to report when they or someone else is being bullied can help stop the bullying from continuing. “Bullying victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider committing suicide.” Bullying is the main cause of suicides and mass shootings of our youth. Teaching the youth what to do when they see or are the victims of bullying can save lives. Our youth are our future, and encouraging them to do the right thing will help them grow and cut down on the percentage of children being cyberbullied.
Lasting Effects of Cyberbullying and the Road Ahead
Cyberbullying attacks children through many different angles of life that were never accessible until the evolution of technology and the introduction to the cyber world. The cyber-world consists of any electronic technology that is available to the bully. This includes but is not limited to cell phones, computers, tablets, gaming systems, and or any other device to allow young children access to the web in which they can communicate with others. The bullies attack through social media, text messages, chat rooms, and websites. When children are being bullied online almost all the time, these children are also being bullied in person as well. This is why this is such an epidemic due to the access bullies have to the individual.
“Cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and reach a kid even when he or she is alone. It can happen any time of the day or night. Cyberbullying messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience. It can be difficult and sometimes impossible to trace the source. Deleting inappropriate or harassing messages, texts, and pictures is extremely difficult after they have been posted or sent.” Cyberbullying doesn’t just end in the school systems as bullying used to in the past. Now children can be affected whenever the bully wants to get in contact with them. This could be on vacations, in the privacy of their own home, and in many more areas that were once seen as safe zones.
Almost as if the bullies are always around. Life as a bully is much easier nowadays; it can be much harder to track who is the cause of the pain. The anonymous posting makes it easy for the victim to get hurt while the bully can hide in the shadows of the cyber world. Technology is not to blame for cyberbullying. Bullying has been around forever, and as society advances, so do bullies. The only difference is they just found a new way to torment and disturb others without having to show face. Text messaging helps us stay in contact with loved ones; social media can be used for positive activities and networking. But there are some who just see these different social platforms and only think of ways to lash out at others for their own personal gains.
Bullying and cyberbullying have the same effects on the victims. Children that have been cyberbullied are more likely to “use alcohol and drugs, skip school, be unwilling to attend school, receive poor grades, have low self-esteem, and even more health problems” (U.S. Department). This doesn’t end in grade school; bullying affects people throughout their entire lives and leaves mental scars that can require therapy. Having children not be scared of going to school will lead to them getting better grades. Thus, helping them secure their future as they look forward to going to college or any institute that helps them reach and maintain life goals they may have.
Cyberbullying can lead to drug and alcohol abuse, which also leads to horrible living circumstances for the victims and or their children to be raised in. This cannot only affect them but those around them as well. “Girls are about twice as likely as boys to be victims and perpetrators of cyberbullying” (Do Something). This can be detrimental to their self-esteem throughout the rest of their lives. Good upbringings lead to more confidence which generally leads to success in any path they choose.
Cyberbullying affects adults, even those who you would think that kind of stuff wouldn’t happen to. Such as offensive linemen for the National Football League, who are some of the biggest, strongest, and toughest people in the world. The effects of cyberbullying have gone so far as to have reached them too. These are the people you’d least expect to be affected by cyberbullying. “Over the past few days, reports were released involving Miami Dolphins football player Richie Incognito, accused of obscenely harassing, bullying, and threatening teammate and fellow offensive lineman Jonathan Martin in the locker room, via text and voicemail, and elsewhere. Martin apparently could not take it anymore and took a personal leave of absence on Monday, October 28th, from a football team trying to get into the playoffs.”
If NFL football players can’t handle cyberbullying, how can a child that is too young to stand up for themselves be able to handle it? The answer is that they can’t and shouldn’t have to. No one does. The solution is to end it at its source and not let it spread. The words that can be said through social media online can be just as hurtful as in person. “Hey, wassup, you half nigger piece of shit. I saw you on Twitter; you have been training for ten weeks. I want to shit in your fucking mouth.
I’m going to slap your fucking mouth. I’m going to slap your real mother across the face laughter. Fuck you. You’re still a rookie. I’ll kill you.” This is the voicemail that Richie Incognito left on Jonathan Martins’s cell phone. This is a real-world example of how cyberbullying is impossible to get away from. This also shows the hurtful things that can be said through these media and can be taken in as very disrespectful and life-threatening. The bully never sees the pain that the victim goes through and therefore has no remorse or doesn’t know when a line is crossed if the hurtful words could have a long-term effect on the victim.
Taking a real-world experience and internalizing it has changed my perspective on the actions of cyberbullying completely. I was always a man that said ‘sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.’ This saying makes you think of them as just words; once said, they disappear just like the air. But some words can linger; for some, they hold their feelings in for others, and they never even notice how the words affect them until it is too late. Life is Something that is seen as priceless, yet everyday people make others suffer. This might be to bring up their own spirits, or just because they find it amusing or have had it happen to them, so they want that same ability to almost seem like they have power over their victim.
Either way, life is Something we should value, and we shouldn’t make life a dreadful gift to have been given, nor should we find comfort or happiness in other people’s demise, especially if we are the ones who are causing them to feel terrible. I think the only true situation to this is education, educating children on how to report actions of cyberbullying and how to handle being in that sort of situation. We can’t change the situation until we learn how to prevent such actions from happening and discuss what cyberbullying can lead to and how it affects people short term and long term. No one should have to go through life being bullied, and never be afraid to want and use technology with the thought that someone is on the other side of the net waiting to attack them.
- Hinduja, Sameer. ‘Implications for Society from the Miami Dolphins BullyingCase.’ Cyberbullying Research Center Implications for Society from the Miami Dolphins Bullying Case Comments. N.p., 4 Nov. 2013. Web. 13 Nov. 2013.
- ’11 Facts About Cyber Bullying.’ Do Something. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2013.
- ‘What Is Cyberbullying.’ Cyberbullying. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services 200 Independence Avenue, S.W. – Washington, D.C. 20201, n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2013.