The 16GB Bully: Cyberbullying Among Children

I have been working my bootylicious ass off for the past ten or so years, and I have always somehow successfully managed to keep my emotions detached from work.  Once I step into my office, I leave my heart at the door- and just come back for it when it’s time to go home.

In this one international school I worked for a few years back though, I couldn’t help but feel for this one middle schooler.  My heart nearly bled for her.  As I was dutifully shushing kids from my high and mighty librarian’s desk, I almost passed her off as another trainer-bra-wearing seventh-grader happily typing away on one of the library computers.  And then, I noticed that she was just staring at the computer monitor a bit longer than usual.  Turns out, she has been getting some nasty messages on her Facebook wall, calling her the N-word.

Such is one case of cyberbullying.  Kids are becoming more brazen at hurling insults at each other through emails, social networking sites, instant messaging and texts.  They use the accessibility of technology as a cloak of anonymity in harassing others.

When you scratch beneath the surface, you begin to realize that this isn’t a problem to be brushed off lightly.  Sure, we are aware of how distressing it is to be a victim of schoolyard bullying, but cyberbullying seems to be an even more damaging menace.  A study by the National Institutes of Health shows that victims of cyberbullying feel more depressed and isolated than victims of traditional bullying.  They feel helpless at the time of attack.

Signs

A victim of cyberbullying may manifest signs which include sudden changes in how they perceive or use technology.  They may appear stressed or extremely anxious when receiving emails, texts or instant messages.  You may notice that they may prefer to not use these forms of technology at all.

When it comes to interpersonal relations, you may notice that the cyberbullying victim tends to withdraw from family and friends.  His grades may plummet and he may choose not to join school activities.

Stopping it

Experts say that it is highly important to tell victims of cyberbullying that what’s happening isn’t their fault.  Be sure to tell them not to fight back or confront the attacker, because the situation could only get worse.

Tell the kid not to be afraid to report the problem to school authorities.  Administrators should then take the necessary measures to help alleviate this problem.  It helps to save and print out evidence of cyberbullying.

As a parent, it would help a great deal to keep the lines of communication open between you and your kids.  This way, they will feel comfortable confiding in you, and you will then feel more in control of the situation.

Take simple steps such as showing your kids how to block the bully’s number from his cellphone.  Blacklist the bully on the social networking sites, etc.

More than anything, we should take our children’s problems seriously and act right away.  It’s time to grab the bully by the horns, so to speak.

About Pepper

I am a single working mom, trying to raise my kid the best way I know how. Join me as I navigate my way through the jungle that is Single Mom-hood, armed with rose-colored glasses and strength of spirit. As pepper adds spice to food, so does my daughter add spice to my life. She makes life no less than…PEPPERRIFIC!

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Comments

  1. good stuff, lurv your stories, will def visit here often. and thanks for passing by @
    http://rock4less.blogspot.co.uk/. following u now hop you do follow me too cheers!

  2. I think this this a reason why FB is for 13 years old and older. I also want to hold off my child from having an email or joining social networking sites for as long as possible, although she’s just 4.

  3. Any form of bullying is such a big disgrace. As parents we do need to keep an eye on our kids and act immediately (with poise and wisdon) at the initial sign of our children getting bullied and much more, If we see that our children are the ones bullying. Bullying can also be a sign of a bigger problem on children. I must agree with you about the open communication between parents and children. One very important aspect of parent-child relationship :-)

    Spanish Pinay

  4. Great post! Yes this Cyberbullying is very creepy..I’ve had to really moniter my kids..just because they are teens and I want to make sure that nobody is doing that to them..although they are not the kind to put up with that..it’s still creepy :(
    Blessings

  5. You’re so right about the cloak of anonymity. It sure seems to give people a sense of security to say some mean things!

  6. Renee Sullivan says

    Pepper,
    We are originally from NY and moved to Georgia for a few years because of my husband’s job. My son was bullied (not through cyberspace) when he was in 6th grade. I think some of it stemmed from us not really being accepted into the culture of the community we lived in, but it could have also stemmed from the fact that my son had different interests than most other children his age. He wasn’t interested in video games or sports. He is interested in music and theatre and his peers were trying to rob him of his passion.

    What made things worse is that his teachers and administrators did very little to stop the problem, they almost defended the bullies to an extent. My son became extremely withdrawn and even mentioned suicide.

    To make a long story short, we ended up getting him some counseling (outside of school), moving back to the North (Massachusetts) and he is so much happier and has made friends that have similar interests and accept him for who he is. He’s now in 11th grade and will be going to college next year to pursue music.

    My point is, parents do need to take notice of their child’s behavior and do what it takes to put an end to bullying. It’s no good in cyberspace or in person!

    Renee

    • Oh my, I’m so sorry to hear about your son’s horrible experience. It’s good to know he was able to pick up the pieces. Good for him :)
      So it seems we can’t rely on school administrators…

  7. Barbara Mascareno says

    It’s amazing how cyberbullying has become an epidemic in schools. But it’s so very true that parents need to be more involved in their children’s activities and who they interact with. Great post :)

  8. My husband and I have about bullying, but we haven’t even started considering cyberbullying and it is a concern, isn’t it? Thanks for giving me some food for thought.

  9. cyberbullying is so terrible – and the worst part is, since kids don’t have to face the person they are bullying, they tend to say meaner things than they would in real life.

  10. This is one of the reasons we don’t allow our kids to have their own accounts (except for email). Parents are having to teach kids from a whole new ballgame. Your article is so appreciated thanks for the valuable information.

  11. Ugh, I don’t even want to deal with this. Out of sight out of mind? I just found out my 5 year was being bullied at school. He has Autism, so he doesn’t always pick up on social cues very quick. I thought I’d at least have until middle school. *sigh*

    congrats as well on your 5 years! Still smokin’ hot!

  12. I hate that bullies have another way to bully. technology is not always good.

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