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Sticks and Stones.....

...can break my bones, but words will never hurt me. That is no longer the case.

Kids have been picking on one another for years. The latest generation, however, has been able to utilize technology to expand their reach and the extent of their harm. 95% of teens in the U.S. are online and a vast majority access the internet on their mobile devises. So what is cyberbullying and how is it different from bullying? Not that one is better than the other. By definition cyberbullying is defined as willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices. Where adolescents use technology to harass, threaten, humiliate, or other wise hassle their peers. Bullying is classified differently within the schools regulations. If your child is a target of cyberbullying they may report feeling dressed, sad, angry, and frustrated. They will be embarrassed to go to school and face the peers who are attacking them. Research has revealed a link between cyberbullying and self-esteem, family problems, academic difficulties, school violence, and various delinquent behaviors.

One thing to keep in mind is the vast amount of peers, adults, strangers and predators one simple post can attract. Here is an example for you: If your child has a video or picture taken of them by a classmate or peer, they can post it on any social media source: Twitter, Facebook, Snap chat, ect, ANYONE that has access to those media outlets would be able to comment, share and taunt your child, endlessly. Each one of those people would then be able to re-share, re-tweet or spread over various internet media sites within a short period of time. This process allows taunting behavior by not only peers, but also any anonymous person from around the world. The fact that teens are constantly connected to technology mean they are susceptible to victimization around the clock. And because some adults have been slow to respond to cyberbullying, many feel that there are little to no consequences for their actions. Many even feel that there is little chance of detection and identification, let alone punishment.

One of the obstacles in the fight to stop cyberbullying relates to who is willing to step up and take responsibility for responding to inappropriate use of technology. Parents often say that they don't have the knowledge or time to keep up with their kids' online behavior, and that schools should covering it in detail during class time and through other programming. Educators are often doing their part through policies, curricula, training, and assemblies, but sometimes don't know when and how to intervene in online behaviors that occur away from school but still involve their students. Finally, law enforcement is hesitant to get involved unless their is clear evidence of a crime or a significant threat to someone's physical safety. As a result, cyberbullying incidents either slip through the cracks, are dealt with too formally, are dealt with too informally, or otherwise mismanaged. At that point, the problem behaviors can continue and even escalate because they aren't adequately or appropriately addressed.

Although the debate is ongoing on who's responsibility it is to address such concerns, we as parents need to take control of our own children's online access and behavior. YOU are the parent. YOU need to monitor the sites that your children are on. Most of the online social media outlets wont allow access to their site if you are under a certain age. Unfortunately there is no real verification once your child inputs a false birthday and year. Limit the amount of time that they are on their phones. Nobody wants to be the parent who is checking and double checking the who, what, when ,where and why, but the alternative is something that nobody wants to face. Take time to have a conversation with your kids about the dangerous that lurk beyond the keyboard. If you are unsure what dangers linger in the cyber world, reach out to law enforcement, the school or your trusty friend Google. It's lifesaving. Take a look below for more information:

  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC.

  • For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts.

  • Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it.

  • Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University

  • A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying

  • 10 to 14 year old girls may be at even higher risk for suicide

  • According to statistics reported by ABC News, nearly 30 percent of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying


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