Cyberbullying and the Toll it Takes on Teens

Recently, Amanda Todd, a 15-year-old girl from Canada, committed suicide. The reason, she was a victim of cyberbullying.  As read on British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the British Columbia teen uploaded a video to YouTube that described the ongoing bullying she endured over the years. The cyberbullying, which first led Amanda to use drugs and alcohol, ultimately caused her to take her own life.

Sad, But True

Unfortunately, Amanda is not the only teenager who has committed suicide after being the victim of cyberbullying.  As teens use the Internet more often—doing things like downloading photos, participating in social media websites, and chatting online with people they may have never met in person—online bullying is now something that they have to contend with.

There are many online anti-cyberbullying sites where you can report bullying from your own home.  Software that provides firewall protection in addition to parental controls adds another level of security. To learn more about how to protect youth from cyberybullies online, you can read more about each social media protections on the Beyond Bullies Web site. 

The CyberBully Hotline Web site is an anti-bullying system that uses an anonymous, two-way reporting system that routes calls directly to school officials. Because cybersecurity is one of our country’s most important issues, President Obama declared October to be National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

What to Watch For

In order to help our teenagers avoid being bullied online, parents and educators should be aware of the signs that something is amiss. As a National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) article noted, youth who are engaging in  cyberbullying often pretend they are other people online in order to fool others, trick people into telling them personal information, and post photos of others without their permission.

Although cyberbullies typically do not think that their behavior is a big deal, and at times think it’s a joke, the suffering caused by them is no laughing matter.  There are many ways young people can empower themselves against online bullies. These include, blocking communication with the aggressor, deleting their emails and usernames from a “buddylist”, IM or friend’s list or reporting the problem to an Internet service provider or website moderator.

What to Do

The NCPC noted that many young people have figured out on their own how to prevent cyberbullying by doing things like refusing to pass along mean messages online, stopping all communication with the cyberbully and reporting the problem to a trusted adult.

“The key to helping children is having a trusting relationship where feelings can be shared, says Melissa Sherman, the executive director of Beyond Bullies. Without a close relationship, youth may be less inclined to tell you if people are spreading rumors about them, taunting them or threatening them online,” adds Sherman.  

You want children to have their freedom, but there are responsibilities that come with it.  Sharing or posting any personal information online, including their address, full name, telephone number or school name should be off limits.

Written by, Jennifer Stone

Jan 17 2014 in Whats New admin Comments Off on Cyberbullying and the Toll it Takes on Teens

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