As someone who just had a family member go through a vicious cyber-bullying attack, cyber-bullying awareness has now become a personal mission of mine in order to address and enlighten everyone on what is it and what it does to those who are affected.
First, let me define what cyber-bullying so that people have a general idea of what it entails. Cyber-bullying is something which takes place using electronic technology which includes devices such as cell phones, computers and tablets and mostly include social media sites, text messages, chat rooms and websites. Such examples include mean text messages or emails being sent to a victim, rumors being spread about the victim through emails or posted on social media sites, embarrassing pictures, videos, and fake websites and profiles. They’re created solely for the purpose to bully a victim.
Secondly, I wanted to share with you some startling and shocking facts on Cyber-Bullying as provided by DoSomething.org:
- Nearly 43% of kids have been bullied online. 1 in 4 has had it happen more than once.
- 70% of students report seeing frequent bullying online. Filling up your friends’ Facebook feeds with positive posts instead of negative ones can boost school-wide morale. Start a Facebook page for students to submit positive acts they see in school to promote a culture of positivity on and offline. Sign up for Positivity Page.
- Over 80% of teens use a cell phone regularly, making it the most common medium for cyber bullying.
- 68% of teens agree that cyber bullying is a serious problem.
- 81% of young people think bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person.
- 90% of teens who have seen social-media bullying say they have ignored it. 84% have seen others tell cyber bullies to stop.
- Only 1 in 10 victims will inform a parent or trusted adult of their abuse.
- Girls are about twice as likely as boys to be victims and perpetrators of cyber bullying.
- About 58% of kids admit someone has said mean or hurtful things to them online. More than 4 out 10 say it has happened more than once.
- Bullying victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider committing suicide.
- About 75% of students admit they have visited a website bashing another student.
Cyber-bullying is different because it can happen anywhere, anytime and to anyone. Those that are cyber-bullied have a harder time getting away from it. Messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly which a very large audience is then able to view. Cyber-bullying can happen 24 hours a day and 7 days a week and it doesn’t just simply go away. One cannot simply delete inappropriate or harassing messages, texts and pictures once they have posted or sent, and they have to go through some hoops to get everything removed.
I will also add that cyber-bullying is no joke. It can literally destroy lives, families, reputations, careers and so much more. Cyber-bullying usually occurs when the person doing the attacking has a low self-esteem and/or are going through situations that we may not understand, but because of those circumstances, they feel the need to attack innocent people. In my family members situation, claims were made that were undeniably false. They were made by someone who has many mental issues and circumstances going on in their own personal lives. She created a false profile to attack my family member and gave out her cell phone number, her address and email address. This website also linked to her Facebook so they started receiving anonymous nasty and threatening Facebook messages. They have now had to delete their Facebook account and will be changing their email and phone numbers. They have also changed the locks on their doors! NO ONE should be having to deal with this because of something someone said that was false!
Needless to say, law enforcement are now involved, charges are being pursued and a cease and desist is being sent to the website as well as copyright infringement violation forms. The owner behind the website is so far being very uncooperative and actually tried blackmailing my family member by asking for money to remove their information from the site. Are you serious? The affects of this situation has been emotionally and physically painful, and the amount of unwarranted harassment and threats they have received is downright ridiculous. What’s even more sad is the amount of people on this particular site who have nothing better to do than creating false claims and then threatening and harassing people they don’t even know.
It may come to no surprise that I question the maturity of my generation, among others, and I am legitimately concerned for the future of our children as they not only grow up in a world surrounded by violence but of cyber-bullying (and bullying in general). When the accessibility of such cyber-bullying tools exist and with the amount of time and energy it takes to fight such claims, the long-term affects of cyber-bullying on someone might never end.
I question as to why more people behind such vicious websites that support and also encourage cyber-bullying aren’t charged with more crimes and why some individuals who commit cyber-bullying might never face charges.
The statistics, provided by bullyingstatistics.org, on bullying and suicide are very alarming:
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it.
- Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University
- A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying
- 10 to 14 year old girls may be at even higher risk for suicide, according to the study above
- According to statistics reported by ABC News, nearly 30 percent of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying
This website also goes on to say that “bully-related suicide can be connected to any type of bullying, including physical bullying, emotional bullying, cyber-bullying, and sexting, or circulating suggestive or nude photos or messages about a person.”
We lose too many victims of cyber-bullying (and bullying in general) a year. Oftentimes these victims never finish school. I ask for everyone to take a stand. Stop cyber-bullying. Educate your children on what it is and also what it does to people who are targeted. If you’re in education, I encourage you to have anti-bullying advocates come to your schools who discuss cyber-bullying and educates our children on how to prevent it and how to handle it if such a situation arises.
Please lets all come together and end cyber-bullying and bullying in general!