Young people are using the Internet more than ever and most
have Internet access from home. For many children, the Internet
isn't simply a convenient way to research or a fun after school
activity - it's a big part of their social life. Emailing,
instant messaging, text messaging and chatting with friends are
children's most common online activities, after studying and
playing games. More and more teens are frequenting social
networking sites, such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. This
electronic forum has not only given sexual predators
unprecedented access to our children, it has become a new,
incredibly potent and potentially toxic, method of spreading
schoolyard gossip, hateful statements, lies, threats and
Cyber bullying is highly varied and hard to define. At it's
core, it is sending or posting derogatory or hateful material on
the Internet or through cell phones or emails, with the intent
to harm another. Cyber bullying can be defamatory to a group, a
team, a race or target a single victim. Bullies employ any or
all cyber communications, including posts to social networking
sites, chat rooms, email, instant messaging and blogs, to
harass, threaten, spread lies or distribute embarrassing
pictures. The Internet gives bullies a worldwide audience for
taunting their victims while maintaining some anonymity. Cyber
bullies can be classmates, online acquaintances, and even
anonymous users, but most often they do know their victims.
Cyber bullying can take different forms:
Online fights using electronic messages with angry and
Repeatedly sending nasty, mean, and insulting messages via
e-mail, instant messages or text messages.
"Dissing" someone online. Sending or posting gossip or
rumors about a person to damage his or her reputation or
friendships. This includes creating websites to make fun of
another person such as a classmate or teacher and using
websites to rate peers as prettiest, ugliest, etc.
Pretending to be someone else and sending or
posting material to get that person in trouble or danger or to
damage that person's reputation or friendships.
Sharing someone's secrets or embarrassing information
or images online or sending it to others.
Talking someone into revealing secrets or
embarrassing information, then sharing it online or sending it
Intentionally and cruelly excluding someone from an
- Cyber Stalking
Repeated, intense harassment and denigration
that includes threats or creates significant fear.
Both boys and girls sometimes bully online and just as in
face-to-face bullying, tend to do so in different ways. Boys
more commonly bully by sending messages of a sexual nature or by
threatening to fight or hurt someone. Girls more often bully by
spreading rumors or sending messages that make fun of someone or
exclude other. They also tell secrets.
Cyber bullying is no joke, although it often starts that way.
Because of the vast reach of the Internet, it has far greater
impact and can cause much more emotional damage than the same
statements scrawled in alleys or on bathroom walls. Damaging
words and pictures once posted are nearly impossible to remove.
Cyber bullying messages often contain threats of violence, which
can constitute a crime. Violent threats and inflammatory
statements in cyberspace can turn into real world attacks. In
October 2008, a racist flier posted on myspace.com sparked a
fight between a white student and several Native American
students at a Mesa high school.
The Effects of Cyber Bullying
Victims of cyber bullying may experience many of the same
effects as children who are bullied in person, such as a drop in
grades, low self-esteem, a change in interests, or depression.
However cyber bullying can seem more extreme to its victims
because of several factors:
- Occurs in children's home. Being bullied at home can
take away the place children feel most safe.
- Can be harsher.
Often kids say things online that they wouldn't say in
person, mainly because they can't see the other person's
- Far reaching. Kids can send emails making fun of
someone to their entire class or school with a few clicks,
or post them on a website for the whole world to see.
- Anonymity. Cyber bullies often hide behind screen names and
email addresses that don't identify who they are. Not
knowing who is responsible for bullying messages can add to
a victim's insecurity.
- May seem inescapable. It may seem
easy to get away from a cyber bully-just get offline-but for
some kids not going online takes away one of the major
places they socialize.
Cyber bullying can be a complicated issue, especially for
adults who are not as familiar with using the Internet, instant
messenger, or chat rooms as kids. But like more typical forms of
bullying, it can be prevented when kids know how to protect
themselves and parents are available to help.
What Can Parents Do To...
- Keep your home computer in a busy area of the house.
up email and chat accounts with your children. Make sure
that you know their screen names and passwords and that they
don't include any personal information in their online
- Regularly go over their instant messenger "buddy
list" with them. Ask who each person is and how your child
- Print this list of commonly used
instant messenger, text messaging and chat rooms from the
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and post
it by your computer.
- Talk to your kids about the issue and
teach them things that will help prevent them from being a
victim of cyber bullying.
- Talk to teens about what they are
doing on the Internet, what sites they visit and who they
- Tell them to never give out personal information
online, whether in instant message profiles, chat rooms,
blogs, or personal websites.
- Tell your children that you
won't blame them if they are cyber bullied. Emphasize that
you won't take away their computer privileges - this is the
main reason kids don't tell adults when they are cyber
- If the cyber bully attends the same school, notify
administrators and school resource officers or school
- If the cyber bullying involves threats of
violence, coercion or intimidation, call the police.
- If a
Web site is defaming or mocking a person or group, contact
your ISP and inform police to get the Web site removed.
a complaint with your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or
cell phone company about any cyber bullying messages.
What Children Need to Know
- Don't put anything online that you wouldn't want your
classmates to see, even in email.
- Never tell anyone but your
parents your password, even friends.
- Keep a record of any
rude and harassing emails, text messages or postings, but do
not respond. Show it to an adult.
- Don't send message when
you're angry. Before clicking "send," ask yourself how you
would feel if you received the message.
- Help kids who are
bullied online by not joining in and showing bullying
messages to an adult.
- Always be as polite online as you are
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PO Box 1466
Mesa, AZ 85211
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