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Cyber Bullying: Student Awareness

Cyber-bullying

Cyber-bullying is a growing form of bullying that is especially hard to see. Cyberbullying involves sending or posting hurtful, embarrassing, or threatening text or images using the Internet, cell phones, or other digital communication devices. Using these technologies, cyberbullies can reach a wide group of people very quickly. Their goal: to damage their victim’s reputation and friendships.

Cyber-bullying can involve:

  • Spreading rumors or posting false or private information
  • Getting other people to post or send hurtful messages
  • Excluding someone from an online group

Young people cyberbully for many reasons. Some do it to deal with their anger, seek revenge, or make themselves appear better than their peers. Others do it for entertainment or for the pleasure of tormenting others. Still others do it simply because they can. By remaining anonymous, and avoiding face-to-face contact, cyberbullies may not realize the consequences of their actions. As a result, they are more likely to say and do things they might hesitate to say or do in person. And young people are often hesitant to report cyberbullying because they are afraid that doing so will lead to restrictions on their own Internet or cell phone use or they believe nothing can be done to stop it.

Some things YOU can do to help prevent cyber-bullying and to help you from being a cyber-bully:

  • Use the Internet and cell phones in a safe and responsible manner.
  • Do not to share any personal information online.
  • Tell your parent or another responsible adult if you are being cyberbullied or know others who are.
  • Before you send a message that may not be appropriate, put down the mouse and step away from the computer before you hit "send."
  • Think before you click "send." Walk away for awhile and then come back and re-read your message. It is very easy to misunderstand e-mails and cyber-communications. Be cautious and if you have any doubt - Don't Send It!
  • Don't attack others online, say anything that could be considered insulting or that is controversial.
  • Don't respond to a message when you are angry. Take a time-out to think.
  • Remember, once you send it, you can't get it back!

THE PLAYERS

Bully

Bullying is about the abuse of power. Children who bully abuse their power to hurt others, deliberately and repeatedly. They are often hot-tempered, inflexible, overly confident, and don’t like to follow rules. They often lack empathy and may even enjoy inflicting pain on others. They often desire to dominate and control others, perceive hostile intent where none exists, overreact aggressively to ambiguous situations, and hold beliefs that support violence.

Sometimes children bully in groups. Children may join in because they look up to the bully and want to impress him or her, or because they are afraid and do not want to be attacked themselves.

Examining the Effects on the Bully

Besides hurting others, bullies damage themselves. Each time bullies hurt other children, they become even more removed emotionally from the suffering of their victims. They learn to justify their actions by believing their victims deserve to be bullied. They also learn that the way to get what they want from others is through force. Bullies often fail to develop the social skills of sharing, reciprocating, empathizing, and negotiating that form the basis for lasting friendships.

As they mature into adulthood, children who have bullied others often show higher rates of:

    • Aggression
    • Antisocial behavior
    • Carrying weapons to school
    • Dropping out of high school
    • Convictions for crime
    • Difficulty controlling their emotions
    • Traffic violations
    • Convictions for drunk driving
    • Depression
    • Suicides

 

Victim

Victims of bullying include girls and boys of all ages, sizes, and backgrounds. But some children are more likely than others to be victimized because they appear small, weak, insecure, sensitive, or “different” from their peers.

Some children can reduce their risk of being bullied by dressing or acting in ways that make it easier for them to “fit in.” Yet children should not be expected to conform to avoid the threat of bullying. Every child’s individuality should be appreciated for the value it brings to the group, rather than suppressed to reduce the risk of victimization. Furthermore, not all children are able to alter personal characteristics that may place them at increased risk.

Victims tend to share 
these characteristics and tendencies:

  • Low self-confidence
  • Anxiety
  • Fearfulness
  • Submissiveness
  • Depression or sad appearance
  • Limited sense of humor
  • Below-average size, strength, or coordination
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Self-blame for problems
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Poor social skills
  • Low popularity
  • Few or no friends
  • Excessive dependence on adults

Children who are repeatedly bullied tend to be passive. They inadvertently reward the bully by crying, giving over their possessions, or running away in fear. Some victims also provoke negative responses from others by behaving in socially inappropriate ways. They may trigger conflict or ridicule and then overreact with anger and exasperation.

Potential victims can reduce their risk of being bullied by learning how to:

  • Exhibit self-confidence
  • Avoid the bully’s tactics
  • Respond with assertiveness
  • Obtain support from others

Examining the Effects on the Victim

Victims of bullying suffer a wide range of harmful effects—both immediately and for years to come. While under the influence of a bully, victims may show many signs of physical, emotional, and social distress. They often feel tense, anxious, tired, listless, and sad. Some children lose their confidence, become socially isolated, do poorly in school, or refuse to go to school. They may also show high levels of:

    • Headaches
    • Skin problems
    • Abdominal pain
    • Sleep problems
    • Bed-wetting
    • Crying
    • Depression

Bystander

Bullying situations usually involve more than the bully and the victim. They also involvebystanders—those who watch bullying happen or hear about it.

An important new strategy for bullying prevention focuses on the powerful role of the bystander. Depending on how bystanders respond, they can either contribute to the problem or the solution. Bystanders rarely play a completely neutral role, although they may think they do.

Hurtful Bystanders

Some bystanders . . . instigate the bullying by prodding the bully to begin.

Other bystanders . . . encourage the bullying by laughing, cheering, or making comments that further stimulate the bully.

And other bystanders . . . join in the bullying once it has begun.

Most bystanders . . . passively accept bullying by watching and doing nothing. Often without realizing it, these bystanders also contribute to the problem. Passive bystanders provide the audience a bully craves and the silent acceptance that allows bullies to continue their hurtful behavior.

Helpful Bystanders

Bystanders also have the power to play a key role in preventing or stopping bullying.

Some bystanders . . . directly intervene, by discouraging the bully, defending the victim, or redirecting the situation away from bullying.

Other bystanders . . . get help, by rallying support from peers to stand up against bullying or by reporting the bullying to adults.

Examining the Effects on The Bystander

Why don’t more bystanders intervene?

  • They think, “It’s none of my business.”
  • They fear getting hurt or becoming another victim.
  • They feel powerless to stop the bully.
  • They don’t like the victim or believe the victim “deserves” it.
  • They don’t want to draw attention to themselves.
  • They fear retribution.
  • They think that telling adults won’t help or it may make things worse.
  • They don’t know what to do.

Bystanders who don’t intervene or don’t report the bullying often suffer negative consequences themselves. They may experience:

  • Pressure to participate in the bullying
  • Anxiety about speaking to anyone about the bullying
  • Powerlessness to stop bullying
  • Vulnerability to becoming victimized
  • Fear of associating with the victim, the bully, or the bully’s pals
  • Guilt for not having defended the victim

 

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

If you are a BULLY . . .

  1. Stop the bullying immediately.
  2. Bullying behaviors will not be tolerated.
  3. Bullying hurts your victim and you.
  4. Bullying sets a bad example for other children.
  5. Bullying may cause you to lose friends.
  6. Every child deserves to be treated with respect.
  7. There are other ways to solve conflicts.
  8. Ask adults for help if you feel angry or upset, or don’t know how to stop bullying.

If you are a VICTIM . . .

  1. You are not responsible for a bully’s behavior. It’s not your fault.
  2. Don’t respond to bullies by giving in, getting upset, or fighting back—this will encourage them. Instead, stay calm and be assertive.
  3. Sometimes the best response is no response—just walk away.
  4. Get help from a trusted adult. Adults can help you figure out new ways to respond the next time a bully bothers you.

If you are a BYSTANDER . . .

  1. Your involvement makes a difference. Don’t just stand by and watch quietly.
  2. Stand up for the person being bullied. If you feel safe, tell the bully to stop. Use phrases such as “Stop teasing!” “Don’t fight!” “Leave him alone!” and “It’s not funny!”
  3. Don’t join in. Don’t laugh at the victim or participate in the teasing, harassing, or fighting.This encourages the bully to continue and can make the situation worse.
  4. Help the victim walk away. A victim may be too afraid to leave on his or her own, but will do so with the help of a friend.
  5. Encourage other bystanders to help the victim. Tell them not to join in the bullying.
  6. Get help from a trusted adult. Report the bullying.
  7. Afterward, tell the victim you feel bad about what happened. Encourage victims to talk to an adult, and offer to go with them.
  8. Include the victim in activities. Be a good friend.

Information provided by www.eyesonbullying.org