What Is Cyber Bullying? How Do We Prevent It?

Cyber bullying has become one of the most threatening attacks at people of all ages. It is most known, however, to target children. In essence, cyber bullying involves using the internet to bully and or threaten individuals. There are a number of ways that these acts are being performed online. Some children are finding threatening or harassing emails in their boxes. Since many schools across the country have incorporated email addresses in their offerings, this problem has grown.

Home email addresses are also acquired by a bully or group of bullying. They use this information to intimidate, harass, and spread rumors about an individual. One way to prevent this, as it relates to emails is to change your address. Making your email address available only to friends and family is a safeguard. This doesn't always work however. To avoid receiving unwanted emails, a child can be taught safety measures to protect themselves.

Many internet providers have spam guards and other protections. Simply depositing unwanted mail here can help in this process. Another way to protect yourself is to not open mail from people you do not know. If it is not sent from a friend or acquaintance, you may not want to read the material being sent to you. Parents can be very instrumental in teaching online etiquette to their children.

This is one of the most important forms of protection on the internet. Emails are not the only tools being used by cyber bullies. They are using forums, chat rooms, and communities like Facebook. These interactive internet locations have become havens to bullies. They find them more effective in carrying out their purposes. Parents must consider these risks before allowing minors to participate in such internet activities.

Some of the same safety mechanisms apply here as they did with emails. Most of these networks are based upon friend requests and relationships. It is important to not accept requests from people you are unfamiliar with. Even if you know a person, doesn't mean you should accept their friend request. Children should be taught to monitor these internet connections for their own protection.

In instances where questions arise, they need to have an open line of communication with their parents. This is an important topic for any child being allowed to use the internet in an unsupervised manner. Parents play multiple roles in preventing this type of bullying. They first must be instructors, by setting the guidelines for internet use. Each home should have specific rules for children of all ages, as it relates to computer usage.

Parents must also be counselors. When children are not sure if they are being bullied or harassed, they may need to consult a parent. This provides them with the advice they need, and a quick way to resolve this issue. Adults are then able to step into the situation if some sort of foul play is taking place. When adults take this position, children are forced to handle these problems alone.

How to Stop Cyber Bullies?

Cyber-bullying occurs when a minor is tormented, teased, harassed, or targeted by another minor. The bully uses a phone, the Internet, or any other digital technology to humiliate or harass their target. Many times, the victim cyber-bully's the aggressor as well. Often, other children are involved in the bullying and the cycle repeats for months. Because of this, it can escalate quickly, and often parents have no idea what is occurring. Unfortunately, it is a growing trend within social media with huge ramifications for all parties involved.

School Involvement

School staff and administrators often get involved once they hear of cyber bullying. The cyber bullies in question are often disciplined even if the harassment took place outside of school grounds. However, schools can be sued for exceeding their authority outside of school hours, and they often lose these legal battles. Schools can be smart advocates by informing the parents of those children involved in the bullying. Many schools have also added cyber-bullying discipline policies.

What Parents Can Do to Stop Cyber Bullies

A child can feel all alone when they are the target of bullying. As a result, parents need to have open communication with their children. Adults represent the one place children can go to confide when they are hurting. However, children and teens tend to hide such incidents from their parents for many reasons. One reason is that they feel their parents will overreact, making things much worse by calling other parents on the phone. As a parent, it is important to discuss with your children that you are supportive and they can tell you anything. Additionally, parents must be aware and always look for signs of potential bullying.

What Does a Cyber Threat Look Like?

Threats can come in all shapes and forms from a cyber-bully. Repeated instant messages or emails that are threatening in nature are the most common forms. In addition, harassment can come in the form of text messages, online chat rooms, and Facebook. Bullies often hack into their victim's email or web accounts and share personal information with others. In addition, some bullies start false rumors, or use fake emails to torment children. As a result, it is critical to recognize the signs of bullying. Parents can set times for children to use the Internet and make sure they are not allowed to visit certain sites. Communicate daily about potential bullying and enforce zero tolerance.

Take a Stand Against Cyber-Bullying

Schools can take a stand against cyber-bullying by starting education seminars for their students. By teaching teenagers how to recognize cyber-bullying, they can potentially become more accountable. Most importantly, schools can teach students how to stand up to bullying by not giving in to peer pressure. There are stories of violence and suicide by children because of cyber-bullying. Luckily, if students are well prepared on how to stop bullying, cyber harassment will decline.

If a student is harassed, teaching them to step away from the computer and confront an adult is key. The police and other law enforcement such as the FBI may get involved if these cases include cyber hacking. It is a very serious matter, but with education and awareness, cyber-bullying can be stopped.

More Information On Cyber Bullying

  1. Cyberbullying Research and Resources - Presents research statistics, tips, prevention strategies, stories, fact sheets, handouts, and other downloads to combat cyber bullying.
  2. STOP Cyberbullying - what it is, how it works and how to understand and deal with cyberbullies.