Cyber-Bullying: An Old Problem with a New Face
Harassment used to occur in the writing on the bathroom stall, but with 99 percent of teens being wired, harassment has evolved with technology.
Cyber-bullying uses the Internet or a cell phone to threaten, spread rumors or post images. Many teens are harassed when someone steals their password or other personal information and sends damaging messages from their email, personal Web site or social networking page. The ability of the Internet to reach large audiences within seconds makes it the perfect place for friends, foes and the faceless to harass other teens.
Cyber-bullying may seem humorous initially, but it can have serious long-term effects. Everything posted online leaves a digital footprint that can be tracked and viewed by others including future colleges or employers. It is important to keep the following essential facts in mind when online:
- The Internet is forever: What you post online can be retrieved even after you have deleted it.
- You are not anonymous: The Internet is a public forum. Everything can be viewed by others and identified by your ISP.
- Be aware that you do not always know to whom you are talking.
- Think before you post anything online: Be sure to protect your name, identity and reputation.
Most bullying starts small, seemingly private between friends, and then mushrooms into a public forum until it is out of the instigator’s control. Everyone is a potential target. Half of students admit to being bullied online, while an estimated 79 percent of teens say it is a problem. There are ways to protect against cyber-bullying:
- Never respond to a flame or online harassment. Bullies often harass others to spark a reaction that then fuels further harassment.
- Always block a bully from sending future messages. Spyware programs have been created to send harassing messages anticipating the target’s response.
- Select the setting that allows you to preview all comments and posts of another user before they are made public.
- “Buddies or friends” should be deleted if they post any comments or images that are meant to embarrass, threaten or harass.
- Document and report any harassment. Tell a trusted adult and report it to the ISP or Web service like MySpace or AIM. It’s important to call the police if threatened or report cyber-bullying online at cybertipline.com.
Reprinted with the permission of the iKeepSafe Coalition. © 2006 iKeepSafe Coalition. All Rights Reserved.
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