Cyber bullies hide behind computer screens, protected, and it fuels their power. But actually, it shows a real weakness of character. This “power” can hurt, diminish, and even destroy lives. Is it worth it? These recent studies show the realities of cyberbullying:
- “Among overweight adolescents, 61% have received mean or embarrassing posts online and 59% have received mean texts, e-mails or instant messages” (Anderson, Bresnahan, & Musatics, 2014).
- Cyberbullying has negative effects on victims, such as lowering self-esteem, increasing depression and producing feelings of powerlessness (Anderson, Bresnahan, & Musatics, 2014).
- Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University (Yale University, Office of Public Affairs, “Bullying-Suicide Link Explored in New Study by Researchers at Yale”)
One last statistic: “It is estimated that about 2.2 million students experienced cyberbullying in 2011” (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2013). With these numbers, it ‘s safe to assume we’ve all experienced cyberbullying on some level. My first experience left me in a state of shock and hurt. I wanted to ask the person who posted the horrible message why he or she did it, but I never had the chance. I never found out who it was since he/she hid behind a fake username. But what I did learn from the experience was the following: 1) the attack was more about the bully than me 2) while I felt vulnerable and exposed, I didn’t have to let it overpower me and 3) there was something I could do about it.
I decided to fight back. Now, I’m not saying to wage a full-on cyber war. Posting responses can fuel bullies and often do more harm than good. But I am saying that you can do something—whether it’s getting a post removed from social sites, informing others about bullying, or simply not letting it overpower you (I know, easier said than done). I could have ignored the hateful post and let him have the power, but I didn’t. And eventually, the post was removed because I assumed my own power. Let’s promote and support an anti-bullying message so that communities can partner to protect children and young adults from abusive situations.
Websites consulted for statistics used:http://www.meganmeierfoundation.org/cyberbullying-social-media.html and http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/bullying-and-suicide.html