A relatively new form of bullying has been introduced known as cyberbullying. This new type of bullying is committed by any text, video, message, or image that is used through an electronic device including a phone, gaming console, tablet, laptop, or computer. If a person is deliberately harassing or threatening a certain group or person this could be known as cyberbullying. These “assailants” aren’t like any other. We all heard of the school yard bully who threatens you for your lunch money. Sadly, society today is used to someone being able to sit behind their light emitting diode screen and talk about someone with no physical confrontation. It is scary to think that the emergence of technology in modern society will lead to a tremendous increase of cyberbullying if nothing is done about it.
With most adolescents and teens being able to access the internet this century, the prevalence of these behaviors are becoming greater. According to the victims themselves, this is happening due to certain personal characteristics such as economic reasons, physical appearance and even sexual views. The list goes on forever. 387 middle school students were surveyed to try and obtain a grasp on how prevalent cyberbullying really is. In the first part of the study, the students were asked about how often they use the internet and how many of them actually have access to technology like a mobile phone. Almost all of the students agreed that they are on the internet on a daily basis. 10% of these students reported that they have indeed used this technology to bully other people and 20% of them reported that they were victims of this. Harassment was the top form of this, and with that being said most of the students that were victims were males. Another study reviewed 14 surveys conducted in the US, Australia, UK, and Europe. Kraft and Wang summarized the prevalence of this epidemic across these surveys and found that there has been rates up to 42% of students reported victimization. Summarizing all of these surveys one can expect up to one third of students are getting cyberbullied across the world and that shows how prevalent this really is. However, even with summarizing all of these surveys, there can always be those participants or responders who are not being truthful. Many children and young teens may feel pressured or nervous into saying that they have bullied or been bullied. It is very hard to get a real number because of this.
Personally, I understand the effects of cyberbullying and what it can really do to someone. The amount of suicides due to this is demeaning to who we are as people. If one really understood the amount of emotional distress they can put someone through and how prevalent it really is, it could prevent this epidemic from reaching all time highs in the near future. To put this in perspective, there is a real story in August 2017 of a 12-year-old girl who took their life due to cyberbullying. After the school and parents of the suspect dismissed the situation for not being serious, Mallory, a sixth-grader, took her own life due to unbearable harassment from other students. Society needs to be able to prevent the thousands of other stories just like this.
In a study done to understand the prevalence and prevention methods, students of victimization were explored by grade and gender. Interestingly enough, students in different grades received almost the same amount of victimization as others. Also, 65% of students reported that this cyberbullying has occurred during the academic year which I found very intriguing. That means almost two-thirds of these students were being cyberbullied during the school year. If this is true, I think it is worth it to dig deeper into that. Knowing this statistic what can the society change to lessen the effects of this while in school? After review of articles, it is determined that schools have seen a decrease in cyberbullying after providing information about the legal ramifications and making changes to the school handbook regarding cyberbullying. However, personally, I believe that only a select few students will really understand this. Being able to have school assemblies about cyberbullying on how it can affect a student’s life can save one’s life. It is not only the school’s priority to spread this information but the parents. Being able to make a child understand at a young age how prevalent this issue is and what effects technology has on society can lead to a decrease in cyberbullying. This day in age, children are receiving electronics such as mobile phones at a very young age. Studies have shown that the later one receives a cell phone, the better understanding they have on the effects of it. In 2001, New Jersey passed a law called the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights. It states that any child bullied has full support of the state, school administrators and teachers, as well as the police. The law requires any incident that is reported, will be investigated within one day of the report. In addition, it requires the training for students and teachers, the school administration to have offices for this, and that every school will be assessed on how well they deal with this issue. While 47 other states have some sort of anti-bullying law, New Jersey posed the most intense training and awareness. Students have claimed that this law has made an impact in the communities. With this being said, laws will not prevent everyone from doing this. People break laws everyday. The community has to come together and be able to discuss these issues.
Results have shown that the issue of cyberbullying has a longer affect on people compared to traditional bullying. The issue goes a lot deeper than just the sheer prevalence and prevention. After all, it has been happening and we can only decrease it. One’s ability to cope with this harsh form of bullying is something that needs to be understood. Social workers and parents have to be able to deal with the side effects coming from this. Victimization can lead to depression, a level of self-blame, and suicidal thoughts. Studies show that approximately 62% of victims have suffered from some sort of side effects like depression. Victims share personal thoughts on coping strategies and prevention through groups, including online, that can help. Group therapy is also the best economical option. Personal therapy can get very expensive especially after all of the meetings that are taking place. Also, victims shared they have tried blocking and finding an expressive outlet, including but not only, a blog post. In my case, sitting down and writing about how I feel can let out a lot of built of stress and anger across many subjects. Schools can implement this practice by making mandatory essays on subjects like these.
The results have shown that further study of cyberbullying needs to be performed due to the distinct difference from traditional bullying. The statistics show how prevalent this issue is and why it would play a pivotal role in society to decrease this. The adoption of new coping strategies beyond just talking to people and trying to get the tormentors into legal issues is needed. It needs to be understood that the biggest risk factor for these adolescents is not only the consequences that they will face. Experiencing cyberbullying is one thing but the effects in the future could be detrimental to ones mental, physical and social health. Society has to be able to come together as a whole to stop this epidemic from developing into something worse than it already is. As technology is developing so is cyberbullying.