The Illinois State Police Department and iSAFE, an internet education tool, told my television station, WHOI, 42 percent of kids have been bullied online. State police reported 14 cases of cyber stalking involving kids under 18 in the last year. It is turning into a big problem. And with more kids on the internet for longer amounts of time, it is bound to get worse. I was watching my four-year-old play a game on sprout online today thinking he could be getting bullied by someone over the internet in just a few years. (I'm still amazed he know how to use the mouse!)
High school aged kids seem to see the most bullying.Fifteen-year-old Bianca Kanm has her own profile on the social networking site myspace. Bianca said, "It was really just so I could keep in touch with all my friends, but pages like these bring about all sorts of unwanted problems including bullying. People say some of the worst things about people so everyone else can get involved and it starts all sorts of drama."
Biance said people say things they wouldn't say in person, "They get this sense of confidence like they can say whatever they want, do whatever they want ."
The website stop cyber bullying has tips for handling this situation:
Educating the kids about the consequences (losing their ISP or IM accounts) helps. Teaching them to respect others and to take a stand against bullying of all kinds helps too.
How can you stop it once it starts?
Because their motives differ, the solutions and responses to each type of cyberbullying incident has to differ too. Unfortunately, there is no "one size fits all" when cyberbullying is concerned. Only two of the types of cyberbullies have something in common with the traditional schoolyard bully. Experts who understand schoolyard bullying often misunderstand cyberbullying, thinking it is just another method of bullying. But the motives and the nature of cybercommunications, as well as the demographic and profile of a cyberbully differ from their offline counterpart.
What is the school's role in this?
When schools try and get involved by disciplining the student for cyberbullying actions that took place off-campus and outside of school hours, they are often sued for exceeding their authority and violating the student's free speech right.
What's the parents' role in this?
Parents need to be the one trusted place kids can go when things go wrong online and offline. Yet they often are the one place kids avoid when things go wrong online.
iSAFE has a free internet training program for kids and parents on what to do toprevent cyber bullying.