What We Know About Bullying, Cyberbullying, and Suicide

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “It is a time to share resources and stories in an effort to shed light on this highly taboo and stigmatized topic.”  Raising awareness about suicidal ideation and offering viable treatment resources and services can offer support to victims and their families.  While Suicide Prevention Month provides a specified time to focus on this difficult topic, it is important to address suicide year-round.

Recent reports indicate the leading cause of death in children under 14 years of age is suicide associated with being bullied.  During the back-to-school season, it is prudent for parents and educators to understand that bullying and cyberbullying is prevalent, how it presents itself, and how it can be prevented.

Bullying is not new but only recently has been coined a ‘silent epidemic’ in America.  Bullying, on or off line, happens when a person is picked on over and over again by one or a group of individuals.  Cyberbullying is subtle. Since it is often done anonymously, cyberbullying is hard to trace. Cyberbullying can cause extreme damage to a person’s reputation and mental health.   As with bullying, victims of cyberbullying may experience anxiety, depression, eating disorders, sleeplessness, dramatic mood changes, thinking about death, and suicidal ideation. Unfortunately, if  bullying or cyberbullyingcontinues, suicide may follow.

Bullies vs Cyberbullies:  What’s the difference?

Bullies

Display minimal or no empathy toward others.

Attack their victims physically by hitting, punching, tripping, or even sexual assault.

Psychologically target their victims through dominating, shaming, and demeaning behavior.

Target their victims verbally through insults, teasing, taunting, gossip, and verbal assaults.

Exclude their victims from cliques or groups.

Cyberbullies

Display little or no empathy toward others.

Harass, threaten or embarrass their victims through mean, rude texts and inappropriate posts or messages on social sites.

Stalk, manipulate, and harass their victims through fake online accounts.

Confuse and frustrate their victims by giving them no knowledge of how many people are involved or who knows about the bullying.

What are schools doing?  Schools are putting more safeguards in place against all forms of bullying.  Punishment for both bullies and cyberbullies can be serious to the point of suspension, expulsion or even legal consequences.

How can parents help?  Parents can help prevent bullying/cyberbullying from occurring by encouraging their child to….

Walk away

Tell someone

Never share passwords, personal data, or private photos

Report the bully

Save the evidence

Block the bully from all devices

Resist retaliation

 

What Parents And Teachers Can Do To Prevent Cyberbullying

We have all heard stories and read statistics about cyberbullying at home and on school campuses.

According to Cyberbullying Statistics:

~Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online.

~More than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyber threats.

~Over 25% of adolescents and teens have been bullied  repeatedly or through their cell phones or the internet.

~Well over half of young people do not tell their parents when cyberbullying occurs.

Some TIPS on how can parents and teachers prevent bullying..

* Be aware of what kids are doing online?

* Become familiar with warning signs that your child or student is a victim of cyberbullying.

* Talk to your child or student about what is happening.

* Talk to your child or student about who is involved in the bullying.

* Document or keep records of everything happening.

* Intervene and/or get help for the victim(s) being bullied.

* Reach out to the bully to express your concern.

Cyberbullying is rarely limited to one or two incidents so teachers and parents will likely need to be as persistent as the bully in terms of documenting, blocking, and/or reporting what is happening online.  Consider involving counselors, mental health professionals, and law enforcement if needed. No one should ever have to put up with cyberbullying!

What Is Cyberbullying?

The dictionary defines cyberbullying as the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.

According to stopbullying.gov, “Cyberbullying generally takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets.  Cyberbullying can occur through SMS, text, apps, or online in social media, forums, or gaming.  Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else.  It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation.  Some cyberbullying crosses the line into unlawful or criminal behavior.”

 ~ Cyberbullies come in all shapes and sizes.

Cyberbullies are persistent in sending negative communication

Cyberbullies may threaten, intimidate, and taunt their victim(s)

~ Cyberbullies may cause mental or physical harm to the victim(s)

~ Cyberbullies may never reveal their true identity

Cyberbullying can occur anywhere including school and home. Cyberbullying makes the victim(s) feel sad, angry, anxious, depressed, worthless, isolated and even suicidal.

Cyberbullying can be a 24/7 nightmare for the victim.

Cyberbullying can be witnessed by thousands of people online.

What cyberbullies tend to forget is what they put online, both about themselves and their victim(s) is permanent and can often be traced to the source.  When cyberbullying becomes criminal behavior, law enforcement gets involved.