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Have you ever seen something mean or insulting about a person posted on a website? This lesson defines the damaging practice known as cyberbullying. We will examine facts and statistics and discuss what adults and children can do to combat it.

What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is when a person is harassed, humiliated, embarrassed, threatened, or tormented through the use of digital technology such as: computers, cell phones, tablets, or laptops. Examples of cyberbullying include:

  • sending mean messages or threats to another person by text, email, or a social media site
  • spreading rumors through text, email, or a social media site
  • taking unflattering or partially clothed pictures of a person and sending them to others via text, email, or social media sites
  • stealing a person’s account information to break into their account and post or send hurtful messages to others

Facts About Cyberbullying

Kids who are cyberbullied have a hard time getting away from their bullies, because cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day 7 days a week. In addition, kids that are cyberbullied are more likely to: use alcohol or drugs, skip school, have poor grades, and low self-esteem. In addition, the most tragic cases of cyberbullying can lead to suicide.Cyberbullies come from different backgrounds. Sometimes cyberbullies are kids that are also bullies at school. But cyberbullies can also be kids that are bullied at school who go online to bully someone else to feel powerful.

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Sometimes a cyberbully does not even know his or her victim; he or she just wants to be mean or try to win friends.While a victim of cyberbullying may feel overwhelmed, there are state and federal bullying laws that protect a person if the cyberbullying is: threatening, sexual in nature, stalking or harassing in nature, or if the person demands money from the victim in order for the cyberbullying to stop.

Statistics about Cyberbullying

The Cyberbullying Research Center did a series of surveys and found that over 80% of teens they surveyed use a cell phone regularly. About half of the kids surveyed had experienced some type of cyberbullying and ten to 20% experience it regularly. The most common form of cyberbullying reported was mean, hurtful comments and rumor spreading. The surveys found that boys are more likely to be threatened when cyberbullied and that cyberbullying affects all races. Another set of surveys done by the Harford County Examiner found that only one in ten teens tell a parent when they have been a victim of cyberbullying.

Also, fewer than one in five cyberbullying incidents were reported to the police.

How to Stop Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is a clear problem, and stopping it is everyone’s responsibility.

What Adults Can Do

As an adult, you can take a role in helping to stop cyberbullying. Explain to kids what cyberbullying is, why it is wrong, and how it affects kids. You can also explain to kids that there are consequences for the cyberbullies, which can include criminal charges. You can also encourage kids to tell an adult if they are cyberbullied or if they know someone who is a cyberbully.

You can talk to kids about internet safety which includes: safeguarding passwords and not posting nude or sexual pictures online. Kids also need to know that a person online may not be who he says he is. It is also a good idea to monitor who your kids are talking to online, what social media sites they belong to, and what messages or pictures are being passed back and forth.

What Kids and Teens Can Do

As a child or teenager, you may experience cyberbullying, or it may happen to someone you know. If you are cyberbullied, one of the first things you should do is tell an adult. Next, try to document the cyberbullying by saving the message, printing it out, or taking a screen shot.

You can also try to block the person from your phone, email, or social media site. If the cyberbullying is happening at school, you should talk to a teacher or principal. You and your parents can also contact the police for help.

Lesson Summary

Cyberbullying is when a person is harassed, humiliated, embarrassed, threatened or tormented through the use of digital technology such as: computers, cell phones, tablets or laptops. Cyberbullying is generally done through text, email, or social media sites like Facebook or MySpace.

Examples of cyberbullying would be: sending mean messages or threats, spreading rumors, taking unflattering or partially clothed pictures and sending them to others. Kids that are cyberbullied are more likely to: use alcohol or drugs, skip school, have poor grades, low self- esteem, or commit suicide. While a victim of cyberbullying may seem overwhelmed, there are state and federal bullying laws that protect a person from cyberbullying.

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