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Cyberbullying is a growing problem, research says

December 5, 2013

By Aziza Doleh

There are youths that are bullied and some are “terrorized” by their own peers, all mostly done behind a computer screen. The bullies never really know the consequences and outcomes of hurting another person with harsh words that can lead to something more.

People all over the United States often hear about another youth going as far as committing or attempting suicide due to this issue. Most parents and teachers never really know what to do or what to look for to help.

All over social media like Twitter and Facebook, there are many outreach support sites, campaigns and movies garnered for those victims. But how many of those sites are actually successful, how many help and are they safe for those victims?

“A lot of what we are finding in cyber-bullying reflects the same as the physical bullying in the real world. The whole idea of creating an online community of anti-bullying and not accepting this sort of thing is a reflection of the way we dealt with it in the physical world and so it definitely has potential,” said Patrick Frato, professor in school of psychology at Cleveland State.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ stated in the Wall Street Journal, they have advised families with guidelines on children’s use of the Internet, TV, cellphones and videogame usage by taking them away after meal times and bedtimes.

The AAP call their guideline “family media use plan.” Although they are being criticized for too harsh recommendations to limit screen time to no more than two hours a day for school-age children and teens and to discourage it altogether for children less than two.

One of the guidelines is monitoring what media your children are using including websites and social media. This is another recommendation that’s rarely followed. You should have access to your child’s social media accounts and monitor them. Monitoring is a lot easier when the computer can only be used in “family zones” of the house. Additionally, each new iPad, tablet or smartphone in the home makes monitoring more difficult. Avoid purchasing more devices than you need, and get rid of “extras.”

“Kids may be very resentful with parents getting involved in their privacy, but at a certain point when there are signs they are going under psychological stress. Those are warning signs parents have to take a closer look before things escalate,” said Frato.

But with all the different ways the young kids have access to the different kinds of social media, it’s almost impossible to escape your attacker when going online. The Internet then turns into a dangerous environment.

According to stopbullying.gov, cyber-bullying can happen 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and reach a kid even when he or she is alone. It can happen any time of the day or night. Messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience. It can be difficult and sometimes impossible to trace the source. Deleting inappropriate or harassing messages, texts, and pictures is extremely difficult after they have been posted or sent.

Here is some of the research uncovered by stopbullying.gov.

The 2008–2009 School Crime of Supplement (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics) indicates that 6 percent of students in grades 6–12 experienced cyber-bullying.

The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey finds that 16 percent of high school students (grades 9-12) were electronically bullied in the past year.

Research on cyber-bullying is growing. However, because kids’ technology use changes rapidly, it is difficult to design surveys that accurately capture trends.

In this type of world and with this serious issue has come to a much larger scale of insecurities about social media statues. These kids so badly want to feel accepted within the social popular circle, which may never accept them. The bullies that go around in schools look for those individuals and prey on them to get the satisfaction of having power their victims don’t have or are too scared to get.

The behaviors of the bullies have brought the attention of psychologists and noticing they make you the loser and leaving them the winner as was said in an article in The Atlantic. These kids now use the gang tactic towards their victims and spread horrible rumors.

In October, two teens were arrested for allegedly organizing a group of other girls to terrorize a Florida 12-year-old, who committed suicide by jumping off a tower in an abandoned concrete plant. With the charges now dropped, in this case of cyber-bullying, one girl sent the victim repeated text messages, telling her she was ugly and that she ought to drink bleach in order to kill herself.

So how do victims “break the cycle” on bullying?

“I think these campaigns of anti-bullying and creating cultures where people step in and should intervene before things become a problem, said Frato and to know how to identify when someone else is being bullied…So people need to know that their are community mental health services, know about the hotlines and funding for mental health interventions.”