Cyberbullying – the horrible truth

Cyberbullying as we know it, is when bullying such as hate speech, invasion of privacy, and stalking and blackmail takes place over electronic devices, in the form of social media, text messages, chat rooms and websites.

Over 80% of teens use a cell phone regularly, making it the most common medium for cyber bullying (dosomething.org). These bullies tend to tear down their victims’ self-esteem, stalk their victims and even blackmail their victims. The impact and control that they have over their victims are severe. Cyberbullying has been linked to cause suicide and depression and self-harm amongst teenagers.

There have been a few cases of cyberbullying that caught everyone’s attention as it gained extensive media coverage as their stories went viral on the internet.

Amanda Todd began using video chat to meet new people online, she was convinced by a stranger to bare her breasts on camera. She decided to post her story on to Youtube which had been viewed more than 17 million times. In the video entitled “My story: Struggling, bullying, suicide, self-harm,” the teenager uses flash cards to tell about her experiences of being blackmailed and bullied. A little over a month after posting the video, Amanda took her own life. Amanda’s stalker would watch her every move even when she switched schools, he’d create a fake profile to become her Facebook friend (nobullying.com).

Studies on Cyberbullying and social media covered a variety of social sites, Facebook was the most common — between 89 percent and 97.5 percent of the teens who used social media had a Facebook account (livescience.com). Facebook started out as a social network for friends and family and now it is a platform for bullies to seek out the youth and victimize them.

Teens are afraid to stand up against their bullies and therefore they suffer in silence which can cause depression and anxiety for the teenager. Only 1 in 10 victims will inform a parent or trusted adult of their abuse (dosomething.org). They fear rejection and not being taken serious because cyberbullying is rarely seen as a criminal offence.

Tyler Clementi was another victim of cyberbullying. After Tyler turned 18, he started disclosing his sexuality to his closest friends. His roommate Dharun Ravi invaded his privacy and streamed Tyler kissing another man. Tyler found out what his roommate done through Ravi’s Twitter feed and seen that he had become a topic of discussion at university. Tyler unfortunately took his life and a week later Ravi and his accomplice were charged with invasion of privacy. A jury convicted Ravi of 15 criminal charges. Cyberbullying may often be treated as a civil, rather than a criminal matter (nobullying.com).

Prevention tactics of cyberbullying should be instilled into the minds of our youth to avoid life and death situations, when they feel alone and depressed and can’t find any other alternative. Raising awareness on cyberbullying can help the affected teenagers feel like there is hope and there is another alternative to overcome the abuse that they endured and to get their life that’s been held captive by their abuser that won’t result in death. It will empower them to stand up for themselves and remove the bully from their life. Having a strong support system from family and friends will benefit the affected teenagers coping with the unfortunate situation that the internet and social media has brought upon.

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