Cyber Bullying and Cyber Safety

By Cheryl Gross
EDU642
01/15/2012

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With the rampant growth of Internet and technology usage, more and more of our youth and young children have access and utilize the Internet and technology tools for fun and education. With this increase comes safety and security concerns for parents and educators alike as to how we can make this access safe and secure as well as a fun experience for our children today. One of the rapidly growing problems that has resulted from increased utilization is cyber bullying.

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Cyber bullying is the cruel online posting of digital pictures/videos and/or negative comments that threaten, harass, stalk, intimidate, and embarrass through and on Web pages, texts, emails, chat rooms, and instant messaging. Broadly defined, cyber bullying is the willful and repeated harm inflicted through an electronic medium, such as a personal computer or cellular phone. The most vulnerable are young adults and teenagers who experience cyber bullying at school, where it is a growing problem. Its appeal is the anonymity of the Internet and the fact that information can be spread fairly quickly all over the world in seconds, destroying victims' self esteem, self confidence, and self respect.

Cyber bullying comprises of activities such as:
  • threats
  • insults or slurs that are ethnic, racial or about sexual orientation
  • rumors, lies, or unsuitable photos or videos
  • flooding of email messages
  • computer virus infections

Research is still being performed on when cyber bullying actually began but it has been increasing as more and more children obtain access to technology and the Internet. Deaths that have occurred as a result of cyber bullying has been recorded since 2000 (McKenna, 2010). The statistics are alarming how many children are victims of cyber bullying. A study was conducted by isafe.org and posted on the cyberbullyingpictures.com website (2011).
  • 42% of kids reported of being bullied online.
  • 35% of kids reported of being threatened online
  • 21% of kids reported of having received mean or threatening email.
  • 58% of kids reported of having being told mean or hurtful things online.
  • 53% of kids admits of having said something mean or hurtful to another person online.
  • 58% of kids have not informed their parents about hurtful experience online.

Safetyweb.com (2010) created a poster (shown on the right) with additional statistics.
  • 26% of girls, aged 12-18, admit to being a victim of cyber bullying while only 16% of boys admit to it.
  • 81% agree that it is easy to get away with online bullying than doing it in person.
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Victims of cyber bullying are angry, frustrated, sad, embarrassed, and scared. Something must be done to prevent and stop cyber bullying. Some children have even taken their lives and the lives of others as a result of cyber bullying. Our children must be protected and feel safe and secure while utilizing technology and accessing the Internet. Everyone needs to be involved parents, students, schools, and the community. Stopcyberbullying.org makes the following suggestions.
  • Schools should get involved, working with the parents, to stop cyber bullying activities and and find a solution when the situations occur. They should proactively educate all students on the law and cyberethics, encouraging digital citizenship.
  • Parents should not overreact but take cyber bulling seriously. Let your child know that you are there for them and seek help from professionals like school counselors, the clergy, and pediatricians. When cyber bullying escalates to threats of hurt and harm to your child, parents should notify local law enforcement agencies immediately with printouts and proof., making sure you do not delete any texts or emails. Make screen prints of web pages but be sure to deliver them to the authorities so that they can take the appropriate action. Contact the webmaster or the Internet provide to retrieve data that may have been deleted by the perpetrator.

Students should learn digital etiquette, the conduct and behaviors expected by other digital users of technology (Ribble & Bailey, 2007) and having respect for others. Ribble and Bailey (2007) wrote that students also need to be taught how to protect their electronic information as they are protected at home from burglars and fires. Digital issues include protection of networks and hardware and protection from identity theft, online staling, phishing, hackers, viruses, and terrorists.

References
Cyberbullyingpictures.com. (2011). Retrieved from http://cyberbullyingpictures.com.
Heyugly.org. (n.d.). Cyberbullying. Retrieved from http://heyugly.org/CyberBullying.php.
LawBrain.com (2010). Cyberbullying. Retrieved from http://lawbrain.com/wiki/Cyberbullying.
McKenna, P. (2010). The rise of cyber bullying. Retrieved from http://www.readersdigest.com.au/cyberbullies/.
Ribble, M. and Bailey, B. (2007). Digital citizenship in schools. Washington, DC: International Society for Technology in Education.
WiredKids, Inc. (n.d.). Stop Cyberbullying. Retrieved from http://www.stopcyberbullying.org/prevention/index.html.

Images from http://cyberbullyingpictures.com/and http://heyugly.org/CyberBullying.php.

For more information on cyber bullying and cyber safety, please visit the sites below:
What is cyberbullying?
Anti-cyberbullying Campaign
Cyber bullying from a teen's perspective
Stop Cyberbulling
FBI's Kid's Safety Tips



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