Cyberbullying is very common especially among teenagers and sometimes results in suicide. I was amazed at the connection when I became curious about cyber bullying and suicide. Here are some statistics presented in an article I recently read:
42% of teenagers with access to the internet reported being bullied.
Of the 69% of teen that own their own computer or smartphone, 80% are active on social media.
The average teenager sends 60 texts per day -reducing face-to-face skills.
Teenagers text double the adult rate.
81% of teenagers say bullying online is easier to get away with.
3 million US kids per month are absent from school due to bullying.
20% of kids cyberbully, and 1 in 10 attempt it.
Online protection is essential for teenagers. Parents often have enough challenges with communicating with them at this age. But ensuring that you have a strong influence on teenagers in your care is a good starting point.
The earlier you can spot signs of cyber bullying towards your kids, or even if they are the offenders, the better. Don’t condone your kids being the cyber bullying cause as we shall see later, they too, can also be affected negatively.
Often kids may not articulate in plain language the difficulties they are facing, this is why we must be sensitive to their non verbal communication. Statistics say 1 in 10 kids will tell their parents that they are being cyber bullied.
Children who are always angry, short tempered and unwilling to go to school are telling us something. They are communicating that there is something wrong.
Plummeting educational performance is another strong sign of bullying.
Without the bystanders cheering on the bully, bullying would not be as effective. This is what the internet unfortunately amplifies – the cheering effect of these bystanders.
Unfortunately the freedoms of the world wide web doesn’t permit sufficient level of policing in order to hinder cyberbullying and these cheering effects. Remember the statistics above said a staggering 81% said they believed they could get away with cyberbullying!
When cyberbullying gets out of hand, it can become so traumatic that in some cases it has even led to suicide. One of the cases I read was of a teenage suicide. The teenager took their life following the circulation of sensitive information which snowballed.
Some of these kids are even trapped into sending nude pictures of themselves which then get circulated. Parents must always therefore be ahead of the game in terms of being technologically savvy and educated on what happens on the internet. Don’t see this as something not for your generation.
Understand technology. Know what your kids are up to, or have an inkling, as you will never know everything or even half the things. But don’t be ignorant. We are all living in this Information Age!
One of our guest bloggers, an adult, spoke of the impact of cyber bullying and how much it hurts. The bullies descended on him like vultures to a prey, spreading lies and being totally relentless. It is very cruel and can impact someone’s emotional and mental health quite dramatically. We therefore cannot downplay the barbarism of these acts. They have serious effects on their intended victims which are very traumatic and even very tragic.
The sad thing is that even the offenders themselves are victims of their own bullying. It is said that even offenders are at risk of suicide themselves.
That is why I mentioned earlier that parents cannot just ignore their kids as the bullies.
The ability of the person being bullied to handle the situation is usually the key to survival. As a parent, or a responsible adult, you can help a child/teenager deal with cyberbullying in the following way:
- As we established, engage that openness with your kids.
- The principle is to build up this capability as you may never get rid of the bullies.
- Teach your kids not to post sensitive information to anyone on the information. Even personal information as date of birth, address and so on do not need to divulged.
- Help them make use of privacy policies
- Teach them never to reply to the cyberbullies. Replying signals to the bullies that they have got you. It does not make them repentant. Often it just gets them to do it more!
- Show them how to block accounts
- They can always delete accounts on which they are being bullied
- Report the bullying to the administrators of the accounts. There is usually a Report option on most social media
- Report to the police. Report any sexting, hacking or fraud. Don’t let it ride!
- Help build confidence
- Pray that the effects of the bullying will not be long lasting, they will recover from any emotional, psychological or mental effects.
The good news however is that today there are laws being put in place in several countries which sees cyberbullying as a serious form of harassment. If someone dies as a result of cyber bullying, the offender can be charged.