I’m fortunate enough to have grown up in a time when cyber-bullying didn’t exist. When I was in school, “street bullying” or “playground bullying” were the types of bullying targets of my generation had to endure.
“Street bullying” happens face-to-face. It happens on the playground, in the hallways, and in the bathrooms and locker rooms at school. A student could escape it and find some form of refuge once the bell rang and school was over for the day. And if it got to be too much to endure, the victim could change schools—problem solved.
But those days of escaping in such relatively simple ways are long gone.
With today’s technology, with everybody plugged in and online 24/7, bullies now have unlimited access to their targets through cyber-bullying. The last twenty years have brought us email, text messages, and social media. These new vehicles of communication certainly have brought benefits, helping us communicate faster or stay in easy touch with distant loved one.
But these new technologies have also brought hardship for some. A bully today can get online and torment a target relentlessly. Using the same tools that keep us connected to the ones we love, a bully can now harass some poor victim in their own home, using their own phone and their own computer, from anywhere, at any time.
This is cyber-bullying.
Cyber-bullying, or online bullying, is harassment of another person using social media, text messages, voice mail, email, and instant messages. It is, in my opinion, the worst kind of bullying there has ever been. Here’s why:
Bullies are, at heart, cowards. But where years ago they had to at least torment their targets face-to-face, today they can hide behind a fake screen name or conceal their identity through a fake social media account and avoid detection and accountability for their actions. They can also use multiple screen names to make it appear that a multitude of people agree with them and have joined in their attacks, further intimidating the target.
When bullying could only occur on the playground or in the locker room, a target could escape his or her tormentors at the ringing of the school bell. He or she could go home, be with family, and not have to worry about being bullied again until the next school day—at least getting a temporary respite from the torment.
Not so any more.
With social media, text, voice mail, and email, bullies can keep the pressure on all day, every day, any place the target goes with his or her phone. There is no longer an escape,
Cyber-bullying is much worse than traditional or street bullying because the taunts, insults, threats, rumors, and lies can be seen and read by a much wider audience. These smears can damage the target’s relationships, causing loss of relationships, family, friends, businesses, finances, and opportunities.
Hopelessness Under Constant, Crushing Pressure
With the relentless nature of cyber-bullying, the target may experience feelings of shock, bewilderment, anger, sadness, despair, depression, hopelessness, and even thoughts of suicide. Though street bullying is terrible and causes those feelings as well, as mentioned before, the target can escape from time to time. Cyber-bullying can be constant and inescapable, making it so devastating.
You Don’t Have to Keep Suffering
If you are a victim of cyber-bullying, it is imperative that you do not respond to the incendiary posts of cyber-bullies, no matter how tempting it may be. Some attacks, especially those that feel like they hit you in the across the throat, can cause you to respond out of emotion. But no matter your circumstances, we must try to never respond to the ignorance and stupidity of bullies or cyber-bullies. As difficult as this may be, it is better to never give internet trolls what they want: a response. Any response. Responding in any way, lets the bully know that they have reached their goal. But if the bully never hears from you, it disappoints him or her and eventually the cyber-bully will give up and move on.
Cyber-bullying can happen to people of any age, not just children and teens. Adults can also be cyber-bullied. I was cyber-bullied once, right after the death of my husband. I can tell you that after refusing to respond to any of it, the harassment dried up and blew away, and the message thread eventually was removed. No one has bothered me since, and in fact the bully’s weak attempts to put me down unwittingly made me many new friends, gaining me support from all over the country. I will be forever grateful to the people (some even strangers!) who stood beside me during this tragic time.
As stressful as cyber-bullying is for an adult, it can be devastating for kids. Adults are better equipped emotionally and more adept at handling themselves in bullying situations;
Children and teens typically haven’t developed sufficient coping mechanisms. They lack the cognitive thinking skills that adults possess, and they haven’t learned to laugh it off and go on about their business if it doesn’t affect his or her family, marriage, business, opportunities, or way of life. An adult can refuse to accept the lies of another bullying adult. A child hasn’t learned to do that yet. Plus, they have totally different values. While most adults place value on family, career, and home, children and teens place the most value on popularity—their friends and being accepted. They worry about how their peers see them. They want to fit in, be liked, and be “cool.” When those things are threatened, as they are in cyber-bullying, it can have devastating effects.
Help Kids With Confidence
Bullies are cowards and they always seek out kids who are insecure, self-conscious, or have low self-esteem because they know those kids are less likely to stand up to them. The best weapon against a bully, then, is confidence. We need to teach it to our children, to help them stand up to and overcome the potentially crushing pressure of cyber-bullying.
Cherie White, both a writer and author, joined the team after being discovered by Brian through her own personal blog and through social media. She has been writing ever since she was ten years old and has a love for writing articles, short stories and novels. She became intrigued with the new Pyngby app because it helps victims pinpoint victims and their harassers for easy protection and litigation if need be. Because she experienced severe bullying from sixth grade until changing schools during her last year of high school, she has a passion for spreading bullying awareness and helping those who are bullied and abused today. Her goal is to bring down the suicide rate among bullied children, teens and young adults. Her debut novel, “From Victim to Victor” is available now at LuLu. Cherie looks forward to helping victims through Watchdog Creative.
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