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Recess on the Cyberbullying Playground is Perilous for T(w)eens and Kids

By Sue ScheffAugust 9, 2013

Cyberbullying on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr are threats to t(w)eens as well (sticker via #TakeNoBullies), by SmartSign.comRecess on the Cyberbullying Playground is Perilous for T(w)eens and Kids

#takenobullies   When hateful speech goes viral, it can spread like a wildfire – out of control. Vicious, malicus and intentional “cyber-bullets” are meant to hurt and harm others; their effects are long-lasting and leave emotional scars. Cyberbullies, oftentimes fueled by the ability to hide their identity behind a computer screen, impact all communities, genders, and walks of life.. The internet, as much as it is an educational tool, has also become a lethal weapon.

In a setting without monkey bars and seesaws, cyberbullying playgrounds are platforms on which t(w)eens  defame each other, in several cases, to death. Some of these sites include JuicyCampus, Topix, The Dirty, and lately, Ask.fm, a social Q&A forum. The recent suicide of 14 year-old Hannah Smith, the victim of repeated aggression on Ask.fm, has drawn attention to the grave dangers of cyberbullying on the site.

Rightfully so, Ask.fm is being criticized for not taking adequate measures to address and prevent bullying on their platform. With schools reopening across the county in the coming weeks, it is imperative that we educate our communities, teachers, parents, and students about these sites and how online issues outside of school can create problems in the classroom. Unfortunate tragedies like Hannah’s are also an opportunity to open our lines of communication: talk to your t(w)eens about the consequences of cyberbullying and how they can be a part of the solution.

Since school is coming up, let’s go back to the basics. In order to truly comprehend the nature of bullying and cyberbullying, it’s imperative to understand how these terms are defined.

Forms of Bullying (Source: Cyberbullying Research Center)

Bullying can occur by one individual or a group of individuals, can be direct or indirect, and can take the following forms:

A. “Physical bullying” – demonstrations of aggression by pushing, kicking, hitting, gesturing, or otherwise invading the physical space of another person in an unwelcome manner. It also includes the unwanted tampering with or destruction of another person’s property.

B. “Verbal bullying” – demonstrations of aggression through insults, teasing, cursing, threatening, or otherwise directing unkind words toward another person.

C. “Relational bullying” – demonstrations of aggression through exclusion, rejection, and isolation to damage a person’s position and relationship within a social group.

D. “Cyberbullying” – the intentional and repeated harm of others through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.

There’s more power in teamwork than in tackling issues independently, and thankfully organizations are taking accountability for spreading awareness of the issue. Recently, I had a conversation on Twitter with SpecSavers, a company that opposes Ask.fm’s lack of response to cyberbullying on their site. In a tweet, SpecSavers stated that they “instructed Ask.fm to remove all [their] advertising, due to our deep concerns over cyberbullying.”

Last spring, I came across the #TakeNoBullies anti-cyberbullying and digital responsibility campaign. The group who created the movement, SmartSign of New York City, is passionate about creating a safer, kinder internet free of hatred with the hashtag  #TakeNoBullies and anti-bullying stickers and buttons designed for specific social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Just like SpecSavers and SmartSign, we have a duty as parents to encourage our teens to set the right example for a kinder, more enriching online environment.

In the end, awareness is the key to prevention – learn how to report cyberbullying.

Be an educated parent. Your children will be safer for it.

AUTHOR OVERVIEW

Sue Scheff is the Founder of Parents' Universal Resource Expert, Inc (P.U.R.E.) and published author of Wit's End! Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-of-Control Teen and Google Bomb! http://www.helpyourteens.com/index.php

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2 Responses

  1. This really helped me because cyberbullying IS a big thing in the U.S. that is killing thousands of people and what I want to know is IF ANYONE WILL TAKE THE STAND WITH ME @ #helpsavetheworld. PLEASE……MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE!!! What if you or a loved one ends up in this situation? What will you do? God created you for a PURPOSE, dont let that purpose be SUICIDE!!!

  2. Dianne Thomas says:

    Sue,

    Are you aware of a video on cyber bullying that can be shown to 7-9th grade students. Thank you.

    Dianne

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