Cyberbullying is a type of bullying which can do lasting harm to young people, and is a serious problem among teenagers in America. Cyberbullying behaviors can include spreading nasty rumors online, through texts, or directly to a person’s email or cell phone. In some cases, these messages can be threatening, or the victim’s account information can be stolen and used to send damaging messages.
Cyberbullying can also include unflattering photographs spread via cell phone or social media, or when one teen pretends to be someone else online with a specific goal of hurting another person. Finally, this type of bullying can also include sexting, or circulating suggestive or sexual photographs about another person. Cyberbullying can be extremely damaging to the teen who is being targeted, leading to fear, depression, anxiety, and even suicide.
Unfortunately, cyberbullying is all too common among adolescents and teens—more than half of all those adolescents and teens who were surveyed said they had been bullied at one time or another online, and one in three said they had been threatened online. Only about one in ten teens tell their parent they have been a victim, and fewer than one in five incidents are reported to law enforcement. The “mean girls” stereotype may not be that far from reality—girls are more likely to be involved in cyberbullying than boys, and boys are more likely to receive threats from a cyberbully than girls.
That being said, any adolescent or teen can be the victim—or the perpetrator—of cyberbullying. Parents should always talk to their children, explaining the very serious consequences which can result. Teens should know that even if someone else started it, bullying will result in the immediate loss of their cell phone and computer privileges.
Due to the nature of this kind of harassment, and the prevalence of technology in our lives today, this type of bullying can take place anywhere at any point, not just in school settings where bullying incidents use to predominately take place in. So, should schools get involved in cyberbullying?
How Schools Respond to Cyberbullying
Because school is basically the center of our children’s lives, the fallout for cyberbullying is often seen at school, with adolescents or teen becoming so anxious and worried about the harassment that they no longer want to attend school, or are unable to focus when in class. Although many states are working to toughen relevant laws, in reality, putting an end to this behavior is going to require the involvement of schools and parents, in conjunction with tougher rules and repercussions.
Experts believe that banning technology is not a workable solution, and instead children should be taught early how to be good digital citizens. School codes of conduct must include consequences for bullying, and all schools must take this issue very seriously. Additional ways schools can effectively deal with cyberbullying behaviors include:
- Give children the tools to avoid online victimization.
- Let children know school officials are there to advocate for them.
- Teachers and other school officials need to know the signs.
- Schools must encourage bystanders to speak up when they witness cyberbullying.
- Schools officials and teachers must respond immediately to bullying behaviors.
- Those students who are acting as bullies may benefit from counseling.
- Schools need to work hand in hand with parents, educating parents to recognize signs themselves.
- When a young person comes forward to tell of cyberbullying, they should be provided with support and reassurance they did the right thing.
- Evidence is crucial in these kinds of cases—teachers, parents and school officials should help a child who has been bullied to keep all relevant evidence in the event there is an investigation. Screenshots can be taken, web pages printed, and phone messages saved.
One of the biggest problems schools encounter is that while the fallout for cyberbullying may often occur on school grounds, the actual texts, e-mails and social media posts frequently occur outside of school. While some states explicitly say school conduct codes must prohibit off-campus cyberbullying, other states imply this, and still other states say that schools must explicitly exclude off-campus cyberbullying in the code of conduct.
While most believe school districts must implement prevention programs, the question of discipline is not addressed. The “why” of cyberbullying remains somewhat of a mystery. One seventh-grade girl admitted “It’s easier to fight online because you feel more brave and in control…On Facebook, you can be as mean as you want.” Although online harassment often begins as early as fourth grade, by high school the students are much more able to hide the evidence of cyberbullying.
Contact Our Boulder Personal Injury Lawyers
If your child has been the victim of school bullying or cyberbullying in Boulder, or anywhere in the state of Colorado, you need an aggressive and experienced law firm on your side. The Boulder personal injury attorneys at Debbie Taussig Law, LLC have the experience and resources needed to win your child’s case. Contact us today for a free initial consultation and review of your case. Call 303.442.0176 or fill out our confidential contact form on this page.