Cyber bullying is the use of electronic technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target another person. Devices and equipment used for cyber bullying include cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as tools including social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, text messages, chat rooms, and websites. Cyber Bulling usually occurs among young people, but if an adult is involved, it may meet the definition of cyber-harassment or cyberstalking, a crime that can have legal consequences and could result in jail time. Adult cyber-harassment or cyberstalking is NEVER called cyberbullying. According to U.S. Legal Definitions, "cyber-bullying could be limited to posting rumors or gossips about a person in the internet bringing about hatred in other’s minds; or it may go to the extent of personally identifying victims and publishing materials severely defaming and humiliating them."
Cyberbullying has become increasingly common, with the increased use of communication technology, especially among teenagers. Because kids are reluctant to report being bullied to their parents or school staff, there is no way to really know just how many are affected. But recent studies have found that about 1 out of 4 teens have been the victims of cyberbullying, and about 1 out of 6 admitted to having cyberbullied someone else.
Studies show that kids who are cyberbullied are more likely to:
- Skip school
- Experience in-person bullying
- Use alcohol and drugs
- Receive poor grades
- Have lower self-esteem
- Have more health problems
- Withdraw from family members, friends and activities
- Have changes in mood, behavior, sleep or appetite
If you see any of these signs and suspect your child is a victim of cyber bullying, try to talk to them. Let your child know that it is not their fault and talk about any bullying experiences you had in your childhood which might help your child feel less alone. Develop a plan that your child is comfortable with on what to do about the bullying. Whether it be letting the school principal know or talking to the parents of the bully, keep all the threatening messages, pictures and texts as these can be used as proof of the bullying.
If your child is a victim of cyber bullying or Internet harassment, take action against the harasser and contact ICS. We can help you:
- Identify the bully
- Obtain evidence proving that bullying, harassing, or other inappropriate internet behavior has occurred
- Report illegal actions to authorities