Bullies have moved online. In the past if your child was bullied at school, at least there was refuge when he or she came home. Now the bullies are texting on mobile phones, uploading on to video-sharing sites like YouTube, or posting on social networking sites like Facebook, intimidating their victims in their own homes.
This is a worldwide phenomenon and it is very hard to know exactly how many children and teens are affected. Estimates vary from between 10% to 40% of school students being cyber-bullied in some form.
Who Are The Cyber Bullies?
Cyber-bullies in schools are more likely to be girls than boys, although boys will cyber-bully too. Victims are very reluctant to report this to parents or teachers. As a parent you need to see if your child is unhappy after spending a lot of time on the internet or after receiving text messages. They could be being cyber-bullied or possibly doing the bullying themselves. It is very important that you not only talk to them but also look at their social network site page, text messages and so on and see exactly what type of messages they are sending or receiving.
Types Of Bullying
A cyber-bullying research site gave an example of the type of bullying it comes across. In one case one ten year old girl found a whole website had been created about her full of nasty comments and untrue stories. Very often messages are sent or posted anonymously and there may be several bullies targeting your child.
Bullying Can Cause Suicide
The cyber-bullying can be so nasty that children and teens have committed suicide rather than face any more. And it's not just school children that cyber-bully. In one case the mother of a girl created a false profile of a boy and used that profile to convince one of her child's acquaintances that he was in love with her. Some weeks later the 'boy' broke off the 'friendship' and started to post nasty remarks, joined by various other girls at the same school. The bullied girl, who was only 13, committed suicide.
Girls may also be targeted by boys and persuaded to send pictures of themselves in various states of undress through their camera phone. The boy may then post this indecent picture online. This sending of indecent photos together with sending texts with explicit sexual content is often known as 'sexting'. In many countries or states, if one of the young people involved is under the age of consent it can lead to either or both them being prosecuted for distributing pornography or become listed as sex offenders.
Make sure your child logs out of their social network site properly when they finish using it. Otherwise they are leaving themselves open to having their profile hijacked and altered, their password changed and have malicious remarks posted. This type of activity is common among university students and is seen as just a bit of 'fun' between friends, but for a child or vulnerable teen it could be devastating.
Teachers are also targeted by school cyber-bullies and can threaten careers if bullies post remarks questioning a teacher's sexuality or accusations of sexual misconduct on social network sites.
Even in adult work environments people can be cyber-bullied by work colleagues making malicious remarks or posting Photo-shopped pictures of other staff in seemingly compromising positions. Celebrities are also targeted with anything from malicious remarks to death threats through networking sites and messaging services like Twitter.