Bully Movie – Cyberbullying – The Darker Side of Social Networking

This is another view on cyberbulling by a guest blogger to get another set of eyes and views on this critical issue.

The internet, and particularly the rise of social networking, has helped people all over the globe connect. This increased ease of communication, however, has its dark side, demonstrated by the dramatic rise in instances of cyberbullying or cyber-bulling.

What is CyberBullying?

An unknown word until recently, cyberbullying describes harassment via a digital medium, such as a social network, email, chat board or even text message. Victims and perpetrators of cyberbulling are usually children or teenagers – once adults are involved, it becomes cyber-harassment.

Cyberbullying covers a huge spectrum of behavior, from ‘minor’ instances, that might involve a a few teasing text messages, to full-blown campaigns of humiliation and torment that have led teens to attempt or commit suicide. Cyberbullies might carry out all the bullying themselves, or they might enlist the help of others, who – knowingly or not – help them with their campaign.

How CyberBullying Affects Children

Cyberbullying has all the effects that in-person emotional bullying has on children. Arguably, these effects can be worse with cyber-bullying, as children often hide it from parents, teachers and friends through fear of humiliation, and because they’ve been threatened by the bullies. Cyberbullying is rarely just one message, email or text. Instead, bullying campaigns can go on for months, even years.

As the bullying is digital, it might also be anonymous, which can make it very difficult to find and stop the bully. Perpetrators have also been known to pose as other children, leaving them difficult to identify.

Several prominent cyber-bullying cases have made national headlines in recent years. In March 2012, a Maryland teenager left messages on social networking site Reddit, threatening to commit suicide if her school didn’t do something to stop her cyber-bully. In the same month, a student was convicted of a cyberbullying campaign that led to his roommate’s suicide in 2010.

How to Respond to Cyber-Bullies

Every cyberbullying case is different and will need to be treated differently. Cyberbullying victims should always keep a copy of messages they received, as this could be used as proof later. However, they shouldn’t respond to the bully, no matter what they say or do, and should try and block the bully from contacting them. Telling the victim’s school and potentially even taking legal action could cause the bully to stop. During and after bullying cases, it’s important that victims receive appropriate counseling to help them deal with the situation.

Where to Find Help

As agencies, communities and companies start to realize just how pervasive and damaging cyber-bullying is, more groups are coming together to raise awareness and encourage young people to take action to stop cyber-bullying. MTV recently teamed up with the phenomenally popular Angry Birds app, offering users the chance to unlock a hidden level in “Angry Birds in Space” if they spread the word about MTV’s anti-bullying campaign.

A cyberbully can have many different motivations for their behavior, and both victims and perpetrators of the bullying need help and support. If you or someone you know is affected by cyberbullying, or if you would like to learn more, the following resources offer support and advice:

–  Stop Bullying is a national resource that provides advice and guidance to everyone who might be affected by cyberbullying, including schools and parents, and also run a 24-hour hot line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

–  Stomp Out Bullying is a resource specifically for teenagers, raising awareness and running campaigns to try and stop bullying.

–  For parents, PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center gives advice and information on how to support bullied children.

“Bully” the movie tracks five students who faced daily bullying, and has sparked The Bully Project, which offers information to students, parents and teachers.

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CyberBullying – 5 Devastating Consequences

Researchers at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in the United Kingdom, along with worldwide experts in the field of psychology, have revealed that 20 percent of-that’s one out of every five-children become the victims of cyber-bullying, and these numbers are on the rise. Being on the receiving end of threatening text messages, hateful emails or having embarrassing images posted on social media venues such as Facebook can result in greater psychological damage than the more traditional, non-technological forms of bullying. Nearly twice as many girls as boys become the target of cyber-bullying.
The consequences of cyber-bullying can be devastating. Cyber-bullies have the ability to hide their identities while spreading hateful messages and humiliating images around the world in no time. The problem with cyber-bullying, versus traditional bullying, is that there’s no escape. Victims cannot come home, close their doors and be left in peace, and they are at-risk for suffering through any of these consequences.

  • Recurrent Absenteeism. Nearly 160,000 kids in the US stay home from school each day due to the threat of bullying. Children who are bullied eventually become afraid to leave the house to go to school or even hang out with friends. Older kids start calling into work to stay home. The fear of cyber-bullying threats slowly reduces the victim’s world, leaving them feeling alone and isolated.
  • Mental Health Issues. Repeated bullying is linked to increased mental health issues amongst victims. When 500 children aged 10 to 19 years old were surveyed about the effects of cyber-bullying, more than 50 percent reported that they experienced depression, anxiety and other mental health issues.
  • Loss of Safe Spaces. Although no form of bullying is okay, victims can eventually get away from traditional bullying. But with cyber-bullying there is no safe space. Technology helps bullies reach their victims at home, school and anywhere else they might be.
  • Physical Effects. One 15-year-old girl interviewed by ARU was the victim of cyber-bullying via hateful and hurtful messages left on various social media networks stating that she was fat and ugly. Eventually the girl stopped eating and started withdrawing from both family and friends. When her parents found a detailed note in which the teen talked about hanging herself they were alerted to get help.
  • Death. Bullying victims are up to nine times more likely to commit suicide than kids who are not bullied. Teens, such as Phoebe Prince of Massachusetts and Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi cut their lives short because they see no other option for getting away from cyber-bullying except for suicide. After Prince was taunted endlessly and told to go hang herself, at the age of 15, she eventually did.

Cyber-bullies often have no idea the depth of pain they cause their victims.Organizations such as BeatBullying and The Internet Safety Project are amongst several groups that have formed in the past few years to help educate kids on the effects of cyber-bullying, as well as how to handle it. Fifty-eight percent of children who are victimized by cyber-bullying do not say anything to an adult that can help them. The educational efforts of parents, teachers and other influential organizations must continue in order to help victims break free of the situation instead of succumbing to it.

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Identity Protection & Reputation Management

Since its introduction to the public, the Internet has brought us a great deal of convenience, allowing us to find a wealth of information we wouldn’t otherwise have access to. Unfortunately, other Internet users also have easy access to the same levels of information and sometimes it pertains to us. The rapid pace at which technology and information availability has grown has made it easier for Internet identity theft and cyber bullying to occur.

Nowadays, it’s important to protect yourself, your reputation and your privacy on the Internet just as you would in the real world. According to Reputation.com, Kerry Harvey, a 23 year old sales executive, fell victim to identity theft and had her reputation ruined when someone stole her personal information from her Facebook account and set up a new account, promoting Harvey as a prostitute. Although the fake Facebook account was eventually deleted, the identity thief was never caught and Harvey’s life and reputation were both adversely affected for years after the incident occurred.

Internet monitoring is a proactive practice every user should employ to keep track of information posted about on the Internet. A proactive approach can help you avoid the presence of potentially damaging information on the worldwide web where it can affect the rest of your life. This type of careful proactivity can protect your online reputation and safeguard your identity, job status and personal reputation if you incorporate some of the following common sense practices.

  • Find and Alert You to Posts About Yourself. It’s one thing if you voluntarily post information about yourself on social media venues such as Facebook. But if you discover someone else is posting about you, especially in a negative light, it can be alarming, hurtful or even scary. Some of the people who create these harmful or negative posts are cyber bullies. The ability to find these types of posts can help you act to deter a cyberbully from continuing this behavior. Google Alerts can send you notifications of posts and responses as they occur so you have the opportunity to act fast when something potentially damaging is posted.
  • Find Personal Info Exposed on Internet. We all enter personal information on the Internet. If you bank, shop or conduct business online, chances are you’ve set up a personal profile that contains various pieces of personal data. Proper protection can prevent identity theft by protecting your passwords from being swiped via the Internet or cellphones. According to Science Daily, anti-virus, anti-adware and anti-spyware programs offer comprehensive protection that provides a triple threat against identity thieves. Programs such as McAfee and Avira protect you from self-installing software that can glean your passwords, as well as information about your computer use.
  • Clean Up Damage to Your Reputation. The ability to clean up your online reputation can have a great impact on your career, personal life and family life. If the damage is extensive and impactful on your career, litigation can be effective in having slanderous material removed. AutoBodyNews.com encourages businesses whose success has been affected by false information posted on the internet to counteract it by building up their reputations with positive information on their website or blog.

The wrong information in the wrong hands can prevent you from being hired, cause you to be fired from your job or harm your reputation at home or in school. The ability to be proactive is critical to ensure that your reputation and image are safeguarded in a way that allows you to progress through life without having to lose days, weeks or months trying to undo the mess created by damaging or personal information on the Internet. Practice common sense when posting on the Internet and use these suggestions to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft or damaged reputation.