As almost all parts of life in 2020 have moved online, cyber bullying has reemerged as a challenge for students isolated by the pandemic and virtual school
By Sierra Leverich
The ding of the phone is like a scene in a horror movie where the monster jumps out. Your insides turn to ice, and you’re afraid to look.
That’s what it feels like if you are a kid who is bullied online. There are a lot of kids being bullied online too, 7 in 10 young people experience online bullying before the age of 18. In the 2020-20201 school year, where everything is online, including talking to your friends or doing school, kids have to get online even when they don’t feel safe.
Just what is online bullying?
Online bullying is when anything gets posted online that is meant to hurt, harass, or upset someone else. This includes any kind of mean comments about what someone looks like, their gender, religion, sexual orientation, race, or physical differences. 61% of teens who report being bullied say it was because of their appearance.
Many people would say that the kids that get bullied just need to toughen up. Kids will be kids. But it’s not like that. Online bullying, just like bullying in the real world, can lead to long lasting and serious problems for the kids being bullied. It also makes going online, something that is important to kids and should be fun, scary. Justin Bieber, the famous singer, said “The Internet can be used as a place to have a greater positive impact on the world. There’s a ton of positive initiatives online. The web should inspire others, not spread hate or hurt others.”
It’s really stressful not knowing when someone is going to bully you and being in a constant state of fear can make someone feel jumpy, anxious, or sad. For kids who are depressed or anxious, being bullied online can make things much worse.
The most common type of online bullying are mean comments on applications like Instagram, TikTok or Twitter. But there are other kinds too. 35% of kids who have been bullied online said that someone shared a screenshot of a status update or photo of them to laugh at them.
The 8th grade counselor at Lake Oswego Junior High School, Miss Molly Healy said “It’s not yours to share. We need to get permission from others to hug them, call them, high five them….why would it ever be ok to reveal someone else’s personal information? It wouldn’t.” She continued by saying “I see why kids would think it’s funny or cool to re-post or share someone else’s information. But it is in no way funny or cool. It is disrespectful and an invasion of privacy.”
So what can kids being bullied do?
In many states, there are laws against online bullying which means that the police could get involved, and bullies may face serious penalties. Oregon has an anti-bullying law that covers online bullying, but only when it happens at school. Since no kids are physically at school this 2020-20201 school year it’s not very helpful.
There are things kids can do to protect themselves, including using available technology tools. Most social media apps and services allow you to block the person and report the person who is bullying you to the service. That probably won’t end it, but you don’t need the harassment in your face, and you’ll be less tempted to respond. If you’re getting threats of physical harm, you should call the police, with the help of your parent or guardian, and consider reporting it to school authorities.
When people are targeted online, a range of events can take place. People witnessing the debacle can either stand up to the virtual bully, or join them and make the whole thing worse. When kids, adolescents and adults are bullied online, they are not physically harmed by the bully, the mental and emotional damage can be overwhelming.
The ding of the phone shouldn’t be scary for kids who are being bullied and everyone should take it more seriously.