Cyber Bullying

08/15/2017

Healthy Living – August 15, 2017
Mark R. Allen, MD – Acadia Hospital
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The internet has tremendously advanced civilization, but it also has a dark side. Social media provides a powerful medium for bullies to extend their harassment to the after-school hours. Nearly 43% of kids have been bullied online, and 1 in 4 has had it happen more than once. It is important for parents/guardians, teachers/school administration, and health care providers to join together to combat this form of abuse.

Cyber Bullying Stats:
  • 70% of students report seeing frequent bullying online and view it as a serious problem
  • 81% of young people think bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person
  • 90% of teens who have seen cyber bullying say they have ignored it
  • Only 1 in 10 victims will inform a parents or trusted adult of their abuse
  • Girls are about TWICE as likely as boys to be victims and perpetrators of cyber bullying
  • Victims of cyber bullying are 11.5 times more likely to report suicidal thoughts!
    • They are also 1.9 times more likely to attempt suicide or die by suicide compared to those who have never been bullied
  • Victims of cyber bullying are almost always bullied in other ways (verbal and/or physical)
Warning Signs and Symptoms of Cyber Bullying:
  • Avoiding school (more truancy and absences, leaving school due to reported health problems)
  • Worsening academic achievement
  • Lower self-esteem and increased depression and/or anxiety
  • Reporting health problems (e.g., stomach aches, headaches)
  • Trouble sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Social isolation and detachment from friends
  • Irritability and sudden anger/rage
  • Self-injurious behavior such as cutting
What can parents/guardians do?
  • Focus on supervision and stay involved and interested in the lives of your children
  • Build resiliency in your children
  • Keep the computer in a common area of the home
    • Do not allow it in your children’s bedrooms
  • Monitor their online usage and use parent controls
  • Become social media savvy (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, etc)
    • Ask your children to show you their profile pages, then friend or follow them
    • For emergency purposes only, obtain the password to their account
  • Talk regularly and specifically with your children about online issues and let them know they can come to you for help if anything is inappropriate, upsetting, or dangerous
  • Build trust with your children and set internet/cell phone usage expectations (have them involved in this process to empower them and make them more likely to avoid secrecy)
  • Tell your children not to respond to any cyberbullying threats or comments online
  • If they are being bullied, be supportive and understanding
    • Find out how long the bullying has been going on and ensure that you’ll work together to find a solution
    • Let your children know they are not to blame for being bullied
  • Talk to your school’s guidance counselors so they can keep an eye out for bullying during the school day
  • If there are threats of physical violence or the bullying continues to escalate, get law enforcement involved
What can kids do to stay safe online?
  • Think before you post -- don’t post or send anything that may pose a problem in the future (especially photos)
  • Don’t respond to (or forward) any online or text messages sent by cyberbullies
  • Save and print out all the messages as proof and evidence of cyberbullying
  • If you are being bullied, tell an adult immediately to get help solving the problem
  • Focus on posting positive messages on news feeds to help boost online morale