With advances in technology come advances in the way kids can talk with and about one another as well as pick on each other. It used to be that bullying was left to the school yard, but today kids can use the internet, mobile phones and various other technical devices to bully each other in a way that has been termed “cyber bullying” and in some states and countries it is a Criminal Act.
Cyber bullying often occurs repeatedly and is usually not a one-time occurrence. Victims are often targeted and tormented relentlessly and the ease of which information is shared on the internet and via mobile phones, makes committing acts of cyber bullying as easy as pressing a button. Children can find many different ways to embarrass, threaten, or belittle others using the internet or a mobile phone whilst hiding behind an anonymous / pseudo profile or $2 sim card number.
Why is Cyber Bullying different?
- Cyber bullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and reach a child even when he or she is alone; it happens day and or night, hail or sunshine!!
- Cyber bullying messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience and yet it can also be a lengthy and tedious task to remove them from an online environment.
Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as mobile phones, computers, smart phones, smart TV’s and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, online chat, blogs and websites just to name a few.
Cyber bullying may entail posting mean, lewd, or derogatory statements about a person online; rumours sent by email or posted on social networking sites; embarrassing pictures / videos posted upon websites and blogs, and the use of anonymous / fake profiles to spitefully and at time vindictively slander, defame and ridicule a child; these are just a short list of examples and digital mediums that a mean spirited act can be committed upon and against another child using electronic technology.
The possibilities of cyber bullying are endless, cases of cyber bullying can become very serious, even to the point of injury or death. There have been reported cases of suicide and homicide related to cyber bullying, as well as physical and emotional trauma / damage. Never assume that cyber bullying will stop on its own, all the drama and attention that a single act of cyber bullying can draw is a great motivator for cyber bullies to continue.
Although schools try to do everything they can to stop and prevent bullying, cyber bullying can be a difficult issue for a school to control. Cyber bullying that occurs off of school property is usually considered out of the authority of the school and unfortunately little can be done by school administrators to stop it; subsequently they would note it and respectfully inform the child(s) parents and or guardians.
Parents and guardians play a vital and key role in preventing cyber bullying by closely monitoring their child(s) online and mobile phone activity as well as noticing body language and emotional health.
Kids who are cyber bullied are more likely to;
- Use alcohol and drugs
- Skip school
- Be unwilling to attend school
- Receive poor grades
- Have lower self-esteem
- Have more health problems
- May become socially withdrawn
- May become hesitant to use the computer and or mobile phone / device.
Mobile phones and computers themselves are not to blame for cyber bullying. Social media sites can be used for positive activities, like connecting kids with friends and family, helping students with school, and for entertainment. But these tools can also be used to hurt other people. Whether done in person or through technology, the effects of bullying is and can be devastating and most certainly life changing.
Need Help, More Information or Need to Talk to Someone?
Kids Helpline – Ph: 1800 55 1800 Web: www.kidshelp.com.au
Lifeline – Ph: 13 11 14
Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner – Web: www.esafety.gov.au/
Reach Out – Web: www.au.reachout.com
Bullying. No Way! – Web: www.bullyingnoway.gov.au
Cyberlutions® [Online Forensic Investigative Specialists] – Ph: 1800 889 713 Web: www.cyberlutions.com.au