What to Do about Cyberbullying
Because of teen suicides reported in the news, our national attention has been focused on cyber bullying. No longer do we worry about the loud mouth school bully who pushes kids in the hall and name calls.
BY: Linda Mintle, Ph.D.
Because of teen suicides reported in the news, our national attention has been focused on cyber bullying. No longer do we worry about the loud mouth school bully who pushes kids in the hall and name calls. Now, the academically bright and capable kids can use cyberspace as a weapon for jealousy, envy and shear meanness. Taunting others with text messages, Facebook slandering and yes, throwing energy drinks in the face of hall walkers, are just a few of the ways bullying now happens.
Today’s bullies work in groups and on-line. As they target specific kids, they are less overt than their predecessors and more anonymous given the cloak of cyberspace. Their methods include humiliating teens through gossip, rumor, videos and nasty text messages. Bullying can be relentless because of 24/7 access in cyberspace. No one really knows the direct causes of the rise of cyber bullying but we can certainly speculate on what seems to make sense. For years, we have witnessed the loss of supervised play in schools due to budget cuts—no recess and physical education. When kids lose the opportunities to engage in structured and unstructured play, they don’t learn to get along and work out their peer-to-peer issues.
Teens are bombarded with violence, meanness and rudeness in the media they consume. Marketing is self-focused. It is all about what you deserve, want and must have-raising the level of entitlement and selfishness to a new high. Religious education is waning, moral standards are relative and many parents are plain ignorant as to what is happening on-line with their teens. Add to this the unwillingness of teens to “judge” someone or report bullying behavior and you have the potential for trouble. The result: A culture of teens who think meanness gets you a reality TV spot; imitation of violent and inappropriate behavior often glamorized in media; and unsupervised cyber behavior that is out of control.