According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 21 out of 100 teens have been bullied at least once in their lifetime. Out of this 21 percent, 11.5 percent have been victims of cyberbullying in schools, as shown in the graph below,
Cheryl Varnadoe – University of Georgia Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development specialist – sums up the challenges of dealing with cyberbullying in schools.
According to research reports, teens in the United States spend about 9 hours a day on social media, while kids in the 8 to 12 age group spend about 6 hours a day online. As children of all ages spend more time on social media, the chances of students becoming a victim of cyberbullying have gone up.
Here are 4 reasons why cyberbullying in schools can have more adverse effects on the victim:
“Jessica Logan – a high school senior – committed suicide as the nude picture she sent to her boyfriend was forwarded by him to everyone in her school after they broke up. Jessica was cruelly harassed for months by the other girls at her school, who called her a slut and a whore. When Jessica’s grades dropped, she started skipping school, and when she did go to school, she would hide in the bathroom to avoid being teased. On July 3, 2008, her mother found her hanging in the closet with her cell phone on the floor nearby.”
“Amanda Todd was a cyberbullying victim who killed herself on October 10, 2012. She was relentlessly harassed by a man whom she met on an online chat room. He threatened to release her private and sensitive information online if she did not comply with his demands. Upon her denial, he released it online and they went viral among her schoolmates, friends, and family. Following this, she faced severe bullying both online and in real life by her schoolmates and friends. Even though she changed three schools in different cities, he continued to harass her by creating more fake profiles online, making it impossible for her to escape from being cyberbullied.”
“Hope Witsell was a 13-year-old student who was harassed and bullied by her schoolmates after a private photo that she sent to her boyfriend was forwarded to everyone in the school by another girl. The message kept circulating among the whole school, giving way to endless harassment both online and in real life. The incident reached the school authorities after a few months, and they immediately dismissed her for one week, even without inquiring about the incident. The harassments continued and on September 12, 2009, she killed herself.”
“David Molak – a sophomore at Alamo Heights High School in Texas – hung himself in his family’s backyard after being constantly cyberbullied by six to ten students from his school. These students used fake profiles and accounts to send him a series of abusive messages that insulted and humiliated him only because he was dating a popular girl in school. The identities of the perpetrators remain unknown.”
Cyberbullying in schools has made it necessary for school administrators to take decisive steps against it.
Here are a few shocking incidents of cyberbullying in schools and their aftermath:
In January 2018, two middle school students were arrested for cyberbullying in relation to the suicide of a 12-year-old Gabriella Green from Florida. The two students confessed to harassing Gabriella over texts and in person. They spread rumors about her and threatened to expose personal and sensitive details about her online.
Brandy Vela – an 18-year-old cyberbullying victim from Texas – shot herself in front of her family. She constantly received abusive text messages from untraceable numbers. The attackers created fake profiles on Facebook and online dating sites with her name and phone number as a free sex worker. Brandy’s school could not do anything even after she lodged a complaint, as they did not have any means to track the attacker.
Mallory Grossman – a 12-year-old student from New Jersey – killed herself after allegedly being bullied by her classmates. The sixth grader was relentlessly harassed by her classmates for months through text messages, Snapchat, and Instagram. It got to a point where she did not want to go to school and her grades plummeted. The school authorities and parents of the accused dismissed these allegations as a joke and refused to help Mallory.
What happens outside the school network?
Why is there a need for technology solutions?
What is the difficulty in understanding gray areas?
The graph given below shows the number of states that have implemented various laws against cyberbullying.
4. Trickery or blackmail
9. Cyberbullying through online gaming
A research study conducted by Jami Cotler and Meg Fryling found that out of 936 adolescents who were asked about the major causes of cyberbullying in online gaming environments, more than 80 percent said that ‘anonymity’ was the reason. ‘Ignorance’ was found to be the second biggest reason with around 76 percent and ‘no fear of punishment’ came third with around 74 percent as shown below.
1. Extreme Stress: Some students feel overwhelmed while dealing with cyberbullying incidents, making them feel stressed out and helpless.
2. Increased Fear and Paranoia: Students who are victims of cyberbullying find it difficult to feel safe anywhere, be it at school or at home. The internet finds them wherever they hide, and this creates a constant fear in them to the extent that they become paranoid.
3. Humiliation: Victims of cyberbullying face constant humiliation as the source of harassment is available for their peers to view and share.
4. Anger: Sometimes, cyberbullying victims take out their humiliation and anger toward other students online.
5. Isolation and Loneliness: In the absence of a support system and redressal mechanism, cyberbullying can trigger feelings of isolation and loneliness among its victims.
6. Physical Illness: Extreme stress and fear can also result in physical illness such as headaches, stomach aches, or fever.
7. Psychological Issues: Students who are victims of cyberbullying may develop psychological issues that could have long-term effects on their lives.
The survey of the National Center for Education Statistics shows the various negative effects of cyberbullying on teens. The negative effects may affect aspects like self-identity, school work, relationship with family and friends, and physical health.
LGBT student community seems to bear the brunt of cyberbullying. A survey of 444 junior high school, high school, and college students between the ages of 11 and 22 conducted by the Iowa State University found that 54% of LGBT students have been victims of cyberbullying in schools!
Kenneth Weishuhn – a high school freshman from Paullina, Iowa – committed suicide after being bullied by his classmates both online and in real life. He was abused and bullied by his friends and classmates after he came out as gay. His classmates made an anti-gay Facebook group and sent him hate messages.
Here are 20 indicators that could help identify possible cyberbullying victims
Here are 15 indicators that could help identify possible cyberbullying perpetrators
What can schools do?
Tips for students
According to a research study conducted by the Cyberbullying Research Center in 2016, even simple strategies may be effective in stopping cyberbullying to a large extent. Around 30 percent of students who participated in the survey said that blocking the perpetrator had some immediate effect in stopping cyberbullying. Around 19 percent said that ignoring the bully helped, while other 16 percent said that telling their parents was effective.
What can parents do?
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How to set up a cyberbullying policy using SysCloud?