Cyber-bullying incidents have quadrupled. Most students don't tell their parents.
Approximately half of U.S. students are impacted by bullying each school day. It happens on buses, in the cafeteria, gym, hallways, playground, and classroom. The most frequent form bullying takes is words (teasing, taunting, ridiculing, name-calling, and gossip) - not blows. This type of bullying happens in the "physical" world and that world has geographic limits. Cyber-bullying is making school days even more painful for many children. Bullying in cyberspace is not bound by school hours, school days, or facing the intended bully victim. Unfortunately, the anonymous nature of the internet often insulates the bully from the consequences of their damaging behavior.
As the number of households with internet access approaches saturation and cell phone ownership expands to the 100 million mark, so do the ways kids bully each other. Cyber-bullying in the form of text messages, emails, photos, and website postings can go school-wide in minutes and global in days. Slanderous information sent out into cyberspace is difficult, if not impossible, to expunge. Cyber-bullying often takes the form of cyber gossip, where damaging content is based on whim; not facts.
CyberBullying Getting Bigger
Studies indicate that cyber-bullying incidents have quadrupled in five years. A 2000 survey by the Crimes Against Children Research center at the University of New Hampshire reported 6% of young people had experienced some form of cyber-bullying. In 2005, studies of 1500 Internet-using adolescents found that over one-third had been cyber bulled and half of those admitted to cyber-bullying others (Hinduja and Patchin, In Review.) A 2005 study by National Children's Home Charity revealed that 20% had been cyber-bullying victims. A 2004 survey conducted by i-Safe America of 1556 adolescents found that 42% had been bullied online.
How Cyber-Bulling Messages Are Communicated
• Text or digital imaging messages sent on cell phones
• Instant messaging
• Web pages
• Web logs (blogs)
• Chat rooms or discussion groups
• Other information communication technologies
Cyber bullying Victims and Perpetrators
- Girls were about twice as likely as boys to be victims and perpetrators of cyber-bullying.
- 62% said that they had been cyber-bullied by another student at school, and 46% had been cyber-bullied by a friend.
- 55% didn't know who had cyber-bullied them.
Only 20% of cyber-bullying victims tell their parents about the incident. Victims are most likely to tell a friend 42%). (2005, Kowalski et al., Electronic bullying among school-aged children and youth.)
Ten Tips: Parents CyberBullying Prevention /Preemption
1. Consider installing filtering and blocking software, but understand clearly that proactive parents are the only real deterrent and the best resource for bullying preemption.
2. Keep your home computer(s) in easily viewable places, such as a family room or kitchen.
3. Model the behavior you want to see in your child
4. Talk regularly with your child about on-line activities he or she is involved in.
5. Set firm guidelines for cell phone use and monitor that behavior.
6. Talk specifically about cyber-bullying. Explain that that it is harmful and unacceptable behavior.
7. Outline your expectations for responsible online behavior and clearly explain the consequences for inappropriate behavior.
8. Encourage your child to tell you immediately if he or she is a victim of cyber-bullying. Tell your child not to respond to the bully.
9. Stay calm. Plan in advance how you will calmly receive the news that your child is being bullied and the solution steps you will take. You will want the evidence. Tell your child to save the bullying messages or photo.
10. Call your child's school; ask the principal what measurable, bullying preemptive, activity-based programs they have in place today. Ask about results.
Margaret Ross, president Kamaron Institute is a business, relationship, and cyberbulling and school bullying preemption expert. Ross is a frequently featured guest on America's top radio shows.
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