Teenagers and Cyber-Bullying
These days high school bullying has been taken to a whole new level. It’s now common to hear or read stories on teens who are falling victim to bullying. Unfortunately, these stories can end with the victim committing suicide, or executing an extreme act of violence such as a school shooting. Most instances of bullying remain unreported, and thousands of teens live with the feeling of dread before they go to school.
According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, 20% of teens have experienced some form of being cyber-bullied. Young people these days can utilize cell phones and the internet to embarrass, threaten, and harass their peers. For example, it only takes a few seconds to take an embarrassing photo and post it online. This can cause psychological and emotional damage to the victim.
The internet allows teens to anonymously gang up on a certain individual without fear of authority or punishment. A socially awkward teen may be considered an easy target online and may experience cruel and threatening comments from their peers.
Here are just a few examples of how teens can get bullied online:
- Posting damaging rumors about somebody in a public site (message boards, status updates, tweets, etc.)
- Posting someone’s embarrassing photos or videos or distributing them through email.
- Sending threats through email, text, chat, or private messages.
- Creating a fake account of someone, especially when there is intent to use this identity to inflict harm.
- Posting personal information on a website for the purpose of causing embarrassment.
Emotional Distress to the Victims
Cyber-bullying may cause social and emotional distress to the victim; these individuals are at risk for mental health problems as well as psychosomatic complaints. According to studies conducted by the CDC, young people who become bully-victims (victims of bullying that later become bullies themselves) are more likely to suffer mental and behavioral problems.
Whether it’s online or offline, talking to your teen about bullying is important. When teens are being bullied on the internet or through their mobile phone, they’re afraid to tell their parents because they’re afraid their internet and phone privileges will be revoked. It’s important to find ways to address the problem without punishing or antagonizing the victim.
With cyber-bullying on a rise, many parents don’t know how to protect their teens from online threats, this is due to not being familiar with the technology. Educate yourself on the latest social media platforms and be aware of all of the profiles that your teen has online. Parents should take the lead and teach their teens what types of behavior online and offline are acceptable. By posting racy photos, harsh comments, or anything that will attract extra attention, they are putting themselves at risk for being bullied. If teens do not have clear boundaries, they will not be able to become advocates for their own rights.
It’s also not healthy to shield children from all kinds of threats that they may encounter in life. High school bullying is a common threat that your teen will encounter in life. Rather than only attempting to control the environment, parents should try their best to prepare them by teaching their teens how to handle these kinds of aggression. It’s also equally important to provide them a safe haven at home, that they see their home as a safe place to retreat and collect themselves before they face the challenges of the world outside.