Cyberbullying and Spreading Rumors

Cyberbullying is one of the fastest growing, and most dangerous, kinds of bullying. Cyberbullying is defined as willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones and other electronic devices.

Recent research has shown that cyberbullying leads to negative emotions such as sadness, anger, frustration, embarrassment or fear all of which have been linked to delinquency and violence among students. It is also tied to low self-esteem, thoughts about suicide, school difficulties, substance use, carrying a weapon to school and traditional bullying and victimization.

Statistics show that 15-35 percent of students have been victims of cyberbullying. About 10-20 percent of students admit to cyberbullying others. Girls are just as likely, if not more likely, to be involved in cyberbullying as boys. Most victims of cyberbullying know, or think they know, who the cyberbully is. (From Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying.)

Sometimes we forget that name-calling, teasing and harassing others really hurts, especially when a computer screen or cell phone separates the bully from the victim. It’s just as important for us to help each other and be upstanders online as it is for us to be upstanders at school and at home.

Here Are 5 Things You Can Do Today to Be an Upstander Online

1. Stop untrue or harmful messages from spreading. With blogs, Facebook and forums, it’s easy for a quiet comment or negative inside joke to spread FAST. If someone posts a rumor that is untrue, or shares a message that is hurtful and harmful, stop it before it goes viral. Don’t laugh or pass the message on. Stand up and let the person know it’s wrong.

2. Protect your personal information. The Internet is like a giant neighborhood, and has good and bad parts. Limit any private details you reveal about yourself to friends and family you know and trust. Remember that the Internet is a public forum, and anything you choose to share will become part of your online reputation. Do not share anything that could be used against you.

3. Practice being a role model to younger kids. Being safe online is serious, and we need to teach others who don’t always know what to do especially at a young age. Share your cyberbullying learning experiences with younger students. Mentor those who may not understand the scope of the Internet and convey why it’s essential to be socially responsible online.

4. Tell a friend, teacher or parent when you see cyberbullying behavior. If you see someone share a cruel message or post a harmful photograph, report the message or photograph online (to Facebook administrators, for example). Or at least tell someone you know what’s going on. When you tell an adult, you are helping someone who needs support.

5. Know the rules! Be aware of the DOs and DON’Ts for using cell phones, computers and other electronic devices in school and at home. Talk to teachers or with family members if you are unsure. Always check new sites with a trusted adult before signing up or connecting with others online.

LEARN WITH THE NEWS¬† Research the privacy and security policy of a well-known site you use (Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, etc.). What are the specifications? Do you think they protect users’ privacy enough? What would you add or take away? Summarize your findings and views in the form of an editorial or opinion column for the newspaper. Remember that editorials and opinion columns always support opinions with facts.

October is National Anti-Bullying Month. The information and activities featured today were taken from the Newspapers in Education supplement, “Stand Up To Bullying.”¬† The tab was created to help raise awareness about the harmful effects of bullying and draws from the prevention materials and supports offered by the BullyBust campaign of the National School Climate Center (NSCC).

2 thoughts on “Cyberbullying and Spreading Rumors

  1. Hi, I teach Current Issues in Hope, North Dakota. I just found your website today. In my class we tackle a lot of tough issues that face our students. I like what I have seen with cyberbullying and teen drinking and plan on using the material in my class. Both of these issues are covered in my class.

    Thanks and keep up the good work.

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