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This month we bring you:
- Cyberbully Info for You & Your Teens
- Online Cyberbully Resources
- Capital One Partners with the Polly Klaas® Foundation
CYBERBULLY INFO FOR YOU & YOUR TEENS
We all know teens have embraced the online world in a way that can befuddle and confuse parents. The Internet was in its infancy when most of today's parents were teens and cell phones were used for emergencies only. These technologies continue to change at warp speed, and it is the young who are agile enough to dive in head first.
To give you a feel for the situation, 93% of US teens are now on the Internet and more than 75% of all US teens have cell phones. These teens are constantly communicating with one another while using the Internet and/or their cell phones, from early morning until they fall asleep at night.
The difficulties for both parents and teens is that since this is a new and different world that has never existed before--there are no tried and true rules, there are no role models, no accepted social obligations and behavior, and the legal rights and laws are very murky.
Cyberbullying has emerged as a safety and social concern for parents and their teens. It’s getting a lot of press lately, and it should.
It is an online version of plain old fashioned bullying, which currently remains more widespread than cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying can be defined as willful and repeated harm that is transmitted through a variety of online media, including cell phones and texting, social media platforms (like Facebook) on the Internet, and emails. Cyberbullies use technology as their vehicle to:
- Forward private photos, videos and emails without permission.
- Send threatening voice or text messages, photos and/or video, sometimes with highly sexualized content.
- Spread a rumor about someone online.
- Send or post online an embarrassing photo, video, or text email without permission.
With the intensity of adolescent emotions, it is easy to see how things can get out of hand.
The recipients, or victims, of cyberbullying report feeling sad and unwilling to go to school. These feelings can balloon into anxiety, depression and actual school absences. Victims have been found to have stronger likelihood of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Those victims with already existing emotional instability and hopelessness, are considered more likely to attempt suicide. These tragic suicides are the fuel for press reports on cyberbullying.
Cyberbullies and Their Victims
Teen girls and boys are experiencing cyberbullying (as bullies and as victims) equally, although the incidents involving girls may be increasing at a faster rate. The cyberbullying messages can originate at any time of the day and from any location that the bully has access to their cell phone or the Internet. There appear to be no favored locations, such as school or home.
Approximately 1 in 5 (20%) of teens report that they have been cyberbullied at some point. The vast majority of incidents are relatively minor in nature.
Approximately 11% to 20% of young people admit to cyberbully behavior at some point in their lives.
Of those who receive cyberbullying messages, the research suggests that 1/3 of teens are distressed by receiving online harassment. Older teens seem to have more experience and are emotionally more resilient. They appear to be bothered less than younger teens who are just beginning to build up the emotional skills needed to navigate the teen years.
Since cyberbullying is a new behavior, there are no uniform laws to protect the victims and punish the bullies. Laws vary state by state.
Additionally, school authorities often have little or no authority (or experience) to step in and resolve cyberbullying incidents, regardless of the evidence presented by the parents and victims.
This dreadful state of affairs means that parents of cyberbully victims need to be ready to pursue assistance for their teens with vigor.
ONLINE CYBERBULLY RESOURCES FOR YOU
We see several main issues of concern for you.
- We are always telling parents that their children can be safer if there is an ongoing, sharing and loving conversation between the parents and their children. We continue to promote parent/child conversations as your most important safety practice.
- Start conversations with your teens and pre-teens about cyberbullying. Listen to what your children have to say, learn about their world, respect them, and keep your conversations going.
- An excellent source of bullying conversation topics and questions can be found at the National Mental Health Information Center. Scroll down the page to find the conversation topics.
2. Learn about cyberbullying. We recommend you make these resources available to your teens as well.
- Stop Bullying Now! is for both kids and adults and is developed by the US Department of Health and Human Services. They’ve got a video series for the kids and lots of down to earth information and advice for the parents.
- The New York Times recently published a series of articles on cyberbullying, and set up a Cyberbullying Learning Center with a lot of important information for parents, kids and educators.
3. For information on how schools and law enforcement respond to cyberbullying:
Our free Child Safety Kit is sub-titled "How to teach abduction prevention without scaring your child (or yourself)" and includes 24 pages of guidance for parents.
FREE CHILD SAFETY KITS
If you live in the US, please click here for your Child Safety Kit.
If you live outside the US, please click here for your Child Safety Kit.
About Polly Klaas® Foundation
The Polly Klaas® Foundation helps find missing children, prevents children from going missing, and promotes laws like Amber Alert that help keep children safe.
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