Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a perceived power imbalance (stopbullying.gov). Cyberbullying is bullying by an electronic means. Unlike normal bullying that only last while a person is in school or away from home, cyberbullying can continue nonstop. With the majority of young people having access to computers and cell phones with internet capability it is easy for bullies to harass someone anonymously and continuously. As parents we must understand that cyberbullying is happening and it can cause strong emotional damage to our young people.
As a parent of two teenage children who have an active “cyber” life, I feel that it is very important to monitor their email and social media sites. As the father of a son who can be described as socially awkward I can further understand the importance of asking questions about what is going on with them. Children especially teenagers tend to be very closed off when it comes to bullying and if you accept the “nothing’s wrong” answer from them at face value you are liable to be overlooking bullying in one form or another. As it stands right now, only seven percent of U.S. parents are worried about cyberbullying even though 43 percent of teenagers admit to being victims of it (internet safety).
Even if a young person is not themselves online, it is possible for them to still be bullied. In today’s tech savvy world, it is not hard for someone to impersonate someone or hack into their email or social media site and make damaging posts. Cyberbullies are as creative as they are cruel and will use any means they can to degrade someone.
So what do we do to protect today’s youth from this growing trend? First we have to understand what it is. Second we have to understand who really is at risk and what to look for. Third we have to look at ways to prevent bullying and finally we have to learn how to respond correctly when someone is the victim of cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying can happen to anyone at any time and depending on the area some groups may be more at risk than others, for example groups such as the lesbian or gay communities or people with some form of a disability may be more likely to be the target of a cyberbully. The warning signs for bullying are the same if it’s in person or electronically. Some things to look for in a person who is being bullied include a change in eating habits, frequent illnesses (headaches, stomach aches, faking other symptoms), difficulty sleeping, or unexplained weight loss. Other things to look for include a sudden change in grades at school, a loss of friends or a change in their social behavior as well as feelings of helplessness or...