Bullies lurk in the most unexpected places these days. Today’s schoolyard dramas play out largely on Facebook and YouTube and Twitter.
One in three kids say they’ve been cyberbullied at some point. Middle school seems to be the prime time for this type of behavior. Even the most web savvy kids can fall prey to cyberbullying so it is important to know the facts.
How to Recognize It
A lot of innocent teasing happens on Facebook and via text message. So when does a good joke go bad? When someone “repeatedly harasses, mistreats, or makes fun of another person,” say Sameer Hinduja and Justin Patchin, co-directors of the Cyberbullying Research Center (cyberbullying.us).
Cyberbullies are often motivated by anger, revenge or frustration. Sometimes they bully for entertainment or because they are bored and have too much time on their hands and too many tech toys available to them. Some do it for laughs or to get attention. Some do it by accident, and either send a message to the wrong recipient or didn’t think before they did something. Kids with aggressive egos do it to torment others. Mean girls do it to help bolster or remind people of their own social standing. And some think they are getting revenge or even standing up for others.
- Cyberbully 411 reports that 40% of kids say their cyberbullying took place on instant messenger services. 30% said it happened on social networking sites, and 29% said they were bullied while playing an online game.
- USA Today reports that girls generally mock others for their physical appearance, while boys tend to make more sexually explicit comments.
- Cyberbullying is especially prevalent among middle school kids (9-14).
Middle school students were surveyed about who cyberbullied them:
- 52% identified another student at school
- 36% said they had been cyberbullied by a friend
- 13% had been cyberbullied by a sister or brother
- 48% did not know who had cyberbullied them (Kowalski et al., 2008)
How to stop the bully
- Don’t respond.
- Sign off and block the bully.
- Change contact information.
- Save all bullying emails or text messages.
- Talk to an adult about what is happening.
For tips about identifying, preventing, and responding to cyberbullying, please visit the Cyberbullying Research Center (cyberbullying.us).