What do Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, and J.K. Rowlings have in common? All are talented, famous, and were bullied growing up. Bullying is a serious problem in schools and can have a lifelong impact on a child’s social and emotional development. While a lot is being done to prevent it, bullying is not acceptable — whether it happens at school, in the workplace, or on the internet (aka cyberbullying).
Before the internet, bullying largely took place at school or on the playground while parents were not always aware of what was happening. Today, bullying is a worldwide problem that takes place over digital devices, like cell phones, computers, and tablets.
Also called cyberbullying, these interactions aren’t much different from the type of bullying that many of us grew up with. The only difference is that it is happening online. Cyberbully can occur through a text, chat room, social media, forums, or gaming apps where people can view, participate in, or share content. It can include personal or private information about someone else causing them embarrassment or humiliation.
Unlike the bullying that takes place in schools, victims of cyberbullying have little or no way to escape. And the bully can be “anonymous” . Once the negative comments or embarrassing photos are put online, it is extremely difficult to remove them from the internet, making many victims feel helpless. According to researchers, the most common types of cyberbullying are comments online (22.5%), followed by rumors (20.1%) and posting sexual remarks (12.1%) source: https://firstsiteguide.com/cyberbullying-stats/
Whether someone is bullied in person or online, there is no question that they are at risk for a variety of mental health conditions. According to dr. Stephanie C. Eken, MD, FAAP, regional medical director of rogers’ behavioral health, a nonprofit organization providing mental health and addiction services, most victims of bullying experience depression and anxiety but they can also develop ptsd (post traumatic stress disorder).
Fortunately, overtime experts have learned a thing or two about how to prevent bullying (in person and online). Here are some of those tips:
- tell an adult if you are being bullied
- never post your personal information (phone, address, etc.) online
- avoid oversharing on social media platforms
- do not accept friend requests or messages from strangers
- do not forward chain mail, hoaxes, or long emails
- never open attachments on emails if you don’t know the sender
- do not post personal pictures that you would not want the world to see
- avoid responding to a message when you are depressed or angry
- carefully proof your posts or messages before sending them (it is surprising how autocorrect can make anything sound wrong)
parents and teachers can help stop the spread of bullying. If you notice a child’s grades are dropping, the child’s absenteeism has increased, or the child is isolating themselves from others, these may be signs that they are the target of bullying. Keep open communications with your child and always take accusations of bullying seriously. For more information on bullying and prevention tips, check out the website stopbullying.org. If you are feeling helpless, hopeless, and considering suicide, call 1-800-255-273-8255.
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