It used to be that bullying happened on the playground, in the classroom, or on the school bus. Thanks to technological improvements, bullying now occurs in cyberspace as well. Cyber-bullying or electronic bullying is intentional, repeated harm inflicted on someone through electronic media such as the internet or cell phones. It includes using electronic devices to embarrass, exclude, harass, or harm another person. Common forms are text message bullying, email bullying, chat room bullying and bullying via instant messaging. This new form of bullying is increasingly becoming a problem for children and youth in Canada. According the Journal of Youth Violence & Juvenile Justice, 30% of children and youth in grades 2 through 12 experience one or more instances of cyber bullying. A research report entitled “New Bottle but Old Wine” found that one third of children who are bullied by their peers at school are also victimized through electronic means. For everyone reading this who thinks “It’s not happening to my kid,” think again. Research indicates that since electronic bullying is easily concealed, many adults underestimate the number of youth who are being victimized. Not only is electronic bullying hard to catch, it is also hard to punish due to freedom of speech rights that complicate the removable of hurtful speech on websites. Furthermore, some students are scared to report cyber-bullying because they don’t want to lose the use of the Internet or their phone or email. What can you do?
- Talk to your child about electronic bullying.
- Make sure your son or daughter know that if they tell you about cyber-bullying they won’t lose their Internet or cell phone privileges.
- Make it a rule that your son or daughter can only use technology in a respectful way.
- Report any threats of harm or violence to the police.
- Make sure that your son or daughter knows that they are a special, good person, regardless of what a bully says.
- Be a positive role model.