Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bullying Goes High Tech

Michael A. Robinson, Coordinating Supervisor Parental Engagement

The issue of bullying is an ever increasing problem. Today, the act of bullying is no longer confined to the hallways and playgrounds of schools. Students have moved their bullying, teasing and harassing to the internet, otherwise known as cyberspace. The use of text messaging, social networking and instant messaging has made the ability to bully a technological nightmare for many students and parents.

Cyber-bullying as defined by the National Crime Prevention Council's is “the use of Internet, cell phones or other devices to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person." When the sender or receiver of the messages is a minor, this constitutes cyber-bullying, if the sender or receiver is an adult, this becomes an issue of cyber-stalking or cyber-harassment. The phenomenon of cyber-bullying has been on the rise since the earlier 2000s, when a study suggested that as many as 10% of middle schools students admitted to being cyber-bullied. By the year 2006, a new study suggested as many as 43% of teens indicated they have been cyber-bullied (Harris Interactive, 2006). The Harris Interactive study also indicated that 23% of middle school students reveled they have been cyber-bullied via email, another 35% indicated their bullying took place in chat rooms and 41% stated they had been bullied via of text messages (Harris Interactive). It gets worse, additionally, 41% of the students professed they were unable to identify who was responsible.

While the majority of bullying does not occur in the virtual world, there are some real issues inherited only to internet bullying. First, the bully has the ability to remain anonymous. Secondly, with the ever increasing technological advances cyber-bullies are less fearful of being discovered and therefore may increase the intensity of their attacks. Thirdly, cyber-bullies are for the most part unsupervised. Lastly, cyber-bullies are very knowledgeable of technology and in some cases more tech savvy than many of their parents and as a result it decreases the possibility they will be discovered.

The impact of cyber-bullying on students is vast. It has been suggested that cyber-bullying has led to students running away from home, leaving school, becoming withdrawn, increase negative behavior, poor grades, and suicide. Suicides linked to teasing have been on the increase and the number of youth who have taken their own lives due to cyber-bullying is rising. Expectations among experts propose the number of cases regarding cyber-bullying will increase due to the use of technology. Everyday, new words are introduced to the American lexicon which are linked to the way youth are using technology. This is best evident by the new phase of Sexting. Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit pictures via cell phone. This is primarily done by teenagers. Many of whom have no idea the extent to which these pictures can effect their lives. Sexting is another way by which cyber-bullies can harass, tease and bully.

To combat cyber-bullying, students, parents, teachers, school administrators and community members are ask to do the following:
  1. Report the first case of cyber-bullying to a school official or local law enforcement authority
  2. Parents be role models and not tolerate bullying of any kind from your child

  3. Parents monitor your child’s activity on the internet

  4. Whenever possible personal notebook and desktop computers should NOT be used in a child’s bedroom

  5. Treat the computer as you would the world outside your home.

  6. There should be certain sites your child and teen should NOT be allowed to go

1 comment:

  1. This is all news to me. My child does not have a cellular phone as of yet, but it has been a much discussed subject. Now hearing about cyber-bullies puts another red flag up that we should wait a little longer. I read your blogs and have always found them to be interesting and very helpful. Thanks.


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