The Cyberbullying Epidemic

by Megan Johnson, intern

We all know far too much about the unfortunate, rampant epidemic of the millennials: cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying is a very serious issue that plagues the lives of kids and teens who are spending their time online. According to the i-SAFE foundation, over half of teens have been bullied online and more than one in three have received a cyber threat. From the dawn of social media, these bullies have learned how to wield the power that comes with the anonymity of the Internet and use it to hurt their peers. 81% of kids agree that online bullying is easier to get away with than in-person bullying. Hidden behind a keyboard, these cyberbullies harness social media for their own purposes and leave today’s children and teens in tragic, confusing situations.

The always-on power of technology also brings new ways to exacerbate bullying, a problem once confined mostly to school grounds, but now able to reach victims through the Web, text messaging and other digital means.

The Des Moines Register

When both school and the home become a place that kids can’t escape bullying, the intense pressure builds and can leave a child feeling depressed, anxious and hopeless. With these feelings can come thoughts of suicide, which has tragically led to many young suicides in recent years. In a survey of middle schoolers, cyberbullying victims were almost twice as likely to attempt suicide than non-victims.

Cyberbullying Facts from the i-SAFE Survey

Cyberbullying Facts from the 2004 i-SAFE Survey

There’s something to be said about its unfortunate prevalence in the news though, because it seems as though people are starting to step up and treat cyberbullying like the serious situation that it is. Coach Matt Labrum of Union High School in Utah suspended his entire high school football team for cyberbullying. He was disappointed in their lack of respect for the school’s rules and for each other and decided to take action. If they wanted their jerseys back, they had to work on their character and do community service to get back on the team. The tough love seems to have paid off as one student remarked, “I think we deserved every little bit we got.”

What does this mean for cyberbullying? Do we just expect a punishment to fix the problem or should we be concerned that students won’t take these punishments seriously? Cyberbullying is a phenomenon unique to today’s generation and teaching children the importance of digital citizenship is becoming more and more necessary as these stories appear more frequently in the news.

What do you think should be done about cyberbullying? How have you as a parent confronted or thought about how you might confront the issues of cyberbullying? Share your stories and tips with us!

If you’re interested in further exploring these issues with us, join us on November 13th at 7 pm for a special cyberbullying workshop featuring Westchester Mommy.

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