Updated: Nov 1, 2022
According to a survey by the Cyberbullying Research Center, almost 37% of students in middle and high school have been cyberbullied.
First we need to understand what cyberbullying is, the consequences of cyberbullying, what to do if you are being cyberbullied, and how to prevent it.
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying occurs when someone harasses, torments, threatens or humiliates someone else through the use of technology.
According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, students who have been cyberbullied are twice as likely to engage in self-harming behaviors and to have suicidal thoughts than those who have not.
The Consequences of Cyberbullying
Being the victim of bullying is a stressful experience. Cyberbullying is a weapon that can be used against the victim 24 hours a day if the victim can not stop it. There can be a lot of negative effects that students can experience, including: anxiety, depression, feelings of isolation, changes in eating and sleeping habits, lowered self-esteem, increase in school absences, loss of interest in hobbies and other activities, using alcohol and drugs to cope, and withdrawing from family and friends.
What If Your Students or Children are Being Cyberbullied?
Guide your student or child to ignore and block the bully immediately, especially on social media sites. Oftentimes, cyberbullies will stop their behavior if their victim just ignores them.
Teachers should let their student's parents know what's going on so they can get emotional support and help to stop the abuse.
In some cases the evidence of cyberbullying is not legal to have, so documenting it will get the student, or his or her parents, into legal trouble. When this happens, parents should contact the authorities in order to document the instances of cyberbullying and take legal action against the person committing it. Also, victims of cyberbullying can contact the police if threats of violence have been made.
How to Prevent Cyberbullying?
Because the consequences of Cyberbullying are so severe, for the victim and the bully as well, it is imperative for parents, teachers and other students, to work as a team to prevent cyberbullying. Here are some strategies that can help in the process to eradicate cyberbullying.
Parents monitor children's online activities, help them to use technology responsibly. Tell your children to ask for your opinion before making a post on their social media to avoid negative effects on their reputation. Understand signs of someone who is a victim of bullying and learn how to use the technology that children are using to get a perspective of the online world.
Not all students who are bullied exhibit the same signs and behaviors, but here are a few general guidelines. Keep an eye out for:
A student who spends less time around other children or clings to those who make him feel safe.
Mood changes, which can be acute or prolonged.
Sudden tearfulness, fear, sullenness, or anger, particularly after an incident of bullying.
An overall decline in mood or functioning in school and other activities.
Self-deprecating remarks (which reflect the slights of others).
Physical marks, such as redness on skin, bruises, torn bookbag, or dirt or food on clothing.
Attempts to cover up a physical feature or another characteristic that others have ridiculed.
Teachers should participate in training on cyberbullying prevention, set the note of respect and tolerance in the classroom and social media, and work closely with parents.