I say that cyberbullying is the coward’s way because the perpetrator  will hide behind a computer or cell phone and do their bullying.  They do not have to confront their target “man on man” so to speak, they can do it “from the bushes.” 

Listen up, parents. The more you know about what goes on this upside-down world, the better equipped you will be to raise the strange little creatures called children.

It can get complicated.

The difference between cyberbullying and school bullying is that school bullying takes a break when school ends.

A person can log on the internet, create a new identity and bully to their heart’s content. Some of the ways they work:

1. Flaming: Online fights using electronic messages with angry and vulgar language.

2. Harassment: Repeatedly sending nasty, mean, and insulting messages.

3. Denigration: “Dissing” someone online. Sending or posting gossip or rumors about a person to damage his or her reputation or friendships.

4. Impersonation: Pretending to be someone else and sending or posting material to get that person in trouble or danger or to damage that person’s reputation or friendships.

5. Outing: Sharing someone’s secrets or embarrassing information or images online.

6. Trickery: Talking someone into revealing secrets or embarrassing information or images online.

7. Exclusion: Intentionally and cruelly excluding someone from an online group.

Cyberstalking is the repeated, intense harassment and denigration that includes threats or creates significant fear.

Teen suicide rates are rising. Cyberbullying is too. About half of young people have experienced some form of cyberbullying. 

Sameer Hinduja, PhD, Professor of Criminology and Director of Cyberbullying Research Center at Florida Atlantic University is a cyberbullying expert and knows how much words can hurt.

“They don’t as compared, for example, to a punch, or a kick, or a push or a shove, but still absolutely they can cut deeply,” Dr. Hinduja said.

That’s why parents should help teach their children resilience.

“Resilience is bouncing back from adversity,” said Dr. Hinduja.

The stronger a child’s self-image is, the less vulnerable he or she is to bullying, regardless where it comes from.

“Everything hinges on the messages we tell ourselves and the beliefs we internalize about the adversity we face,” said Dr. Hinduja.

A national survey of a thousand kids shows those who don’t have much resilience act out themselves when they’re bullied.

“Whether self-harm or interpersonal harm or violence or delinquency,” said Dr. Hinduja.

While those with a stronger self-image were able to report the bully or at least block them online.

“They didn’t really internalize the harm and it didn’t really markedly affect their ability to learn and feel safe in school,” said Dr. Hinduja.

Nearly 43 percent of kids have been bullied online. 1 in 4 has had it happen more than once.

70 percent of students report seeing frequent bullying online. Filling up your friends’ Facebook feeds with positive posts instead of negative ones can boost school-wide morale. Start a Facebook page for students to submit positive acts they see in school to promote a culture of positivity on and offline.

Over 80 percent of teens use a cell phone regularly, making it the most common medium for cyber bullying.

• 68 percent of teens agree that cyber bullying is a serious problem.

• 81 percent of young people think bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person.

• 90 percent of teens who have seen social-media bullying say they have ignored it. 84 percent have seen others tell cyberbullies to stop.

Only 1 in 10 

victims will inform a parent or trusted adult of their abuse.

Girls are about twice as likely as boys to be victims and perpetrators of cyber bullying.

About 58 percent of kids admit someone has said mean or hurtful things to them online. More than 4 out 10 say it has happened more than once.

Bullying victims are two to nine times more likely to consider committing suicide.

About 75 percent of students admit they have visited a website bashing another student.

To learn more about stopping cyberbullying, visit www.cyberbullying.org.

And then … there is sexting.  

Sexting is sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually explicit messages, photographs, or images, primarily between mobile phones.

Why is sexting a problem?

A photo shared between two people can quickly become a viral phenomenon. Teens may believe it will be kept private and then discover it has been shared widely with their peers, sometimes with grave consequences. These include arrests of teens who shared photos of themselves or other underage teens, While some states have laws that differentiate sexting from child pornography, others do not. Sexting could result in charges of distributing or possessing child pornography.

Bullying, harassment, and humiliation are common problems when the photos and messages get shared beyond the intended recipient. There can be severe emotional and social consequences, including suicides of teens who had their photos shared.

There are many reasons kids engage in sexting or are encouraged or pressured to do so.

Half of teen girls cite pressure from guys as a reason to send explicit messages, while only 18 percent of teen boys say they have been pressuring girls. This is of concern where there is already a power imbalance in a relationship or an issue with self-esteem. Boys may not realize they are, in fact, pressuring girls.

A nude photo of another teen is a trophy that a teen can use to brag to peers about the relationship.

Teens might send a photo of themselves as a way of flirting with a potential partner or to get compliments from peers. Some may also send a photo as a joke or on a dare.

Sexting photos of other teens can be done to bully or humiliate them. This might be done after a relationship ends or the photos may be taken unknowingly, such as in a bathroom or locker room.

Read the poster on the left — then show it to your youngsters. 

Show them the website cyberbullying.com. You just might save them from ungodly humiliation and embarrassment or even worse.

Get a grip — be hip. Know what can happen. Be prepared. When you think it can’t happen to you or your family, that’s usually when you get a big surprise.

DALE LILLY  is Lifestyles Editor and may be contacted at lifestyles@desototimes.com or 662-429-6397 ext. 248.

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