Is Cyberbullying out of Control in the US

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By Hector Cisneros

Cyberbullying – It's one of the scourges of the Internet. Although the Internet has brought us endless abilities to communicate with each other, made research extremely easy and made it possible to engage in worldwide commerce it has also allowed the transfer of old analog bad behaviors and unleashed them as new digital evils. Cyberbullying and Trolling are two that have multiplied because they are easy to engage in and because they are harder to monitor. Having said this, both cyberbullying and trolling can be controlled and in fact, be reduced if internet users know what to look for and they know what to do. In this episode of Working the Web to Win, we will explore the current widespread dangers of cyberbullying and trolling, how to recognize it and what you can do as a responsible parent and adult to put a stop to it. So, tighten your grip as we expose how widespread cyberbullying is and what you can do about it.


Cyberbullying and internet trolling is not a new subject for Working the Web to Win.  We have written several articles addressing this digital scourge. For example, we first wrote “Cyberstalking for Fun & Profit - Is There a Cyberstalker in Your Future?” which dealt with how individuals were using social media and other digital means to stalk, troll and cyberbully ex-partners. In another article called “How Do I Hack Thee? Let Me Count the Ways – A Cyberstalking Primer” we discussed how ex-partners took cyberstalking to a whole new level by hacking ex-partner accounts and then using the information they acquired to destroy the ex-partners life. In the article called “Are Social Networks Becoming Antisocial?”, we raised the specter that cyberbullying was growing at an accelerated rate. 

In “Are Trolls Taking Control of the Internet?”, we discussed how trolling had The Dark Side of Social Media,” where we highlighted the many ills that have entered our lives when we adopted widespread use of social media. In this article we talked about everything from Child Trap Chatrooms to social media terrorism and in the middle of it all was cyberbullying.
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become one of the most common methods of attacking anyone that did not agree with the troll. This type of cyberbullying was used to create all manners of political attacks and to halt any real investigation into an opponent’s position. This was particularly true in the last presidential election. In fact, this is the exact type of attacks the Nazis used before World War II (except it used the analog media of its time: radio). The last article we wrote that covered cyberbullying was in 2017 when we wrote “

Not Just for Adults - What’s amazing about the prior five articles is that they dealt with cyberbullying and trolling mostly on the adult level, i.e., adults attacking adults. The rest of this article will deal with cyberbullying and how it affects our children and teens. We need to look at how this is a growing problem, and we need to learn how to recognize it. But the first thing most of us have to do is recognize it as a real problem, not one of “Boys will be Boys” or “It's a rite of passage for all kids.” Cyberbullying causes real psychological damage and results in sometimes deadly consequences for the victims who are bullied. The Boy Scouts of America think this is such a big problem that they have developed a new training program that all adult leaders must complete before they can participate as a scout leader. More on this later, but right now let’s look at some statistics.  
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In an article listed on the Cyberbullying Research Centers website, it shows that overall cyberbullying grew to an average of 27.9% over the last ten years. For example; in 2007, research statistics show that the rate of cyberbullying was at 28.8 percent. In 2011 it had risen to 29.2 percent and that the 2016 rate had risen to 33.8 percent. In a different article called 2016 Cyberbullying Data, they showed thirteen different stats for 5,700 students that were surveyed and the percent of cyberbullying, including students being threatened, posting harmful videos and the creation of hurtful web pages and much more. Both of the above-mentioned articles are full of scary statistics that should make any parent wake up and take notice of this widespread problem.

Still, don’t believe this is a big problem? In another article from DoSomething.org, called “11 Facts About Cyber Bullying”, they list these scary statistics.
  1. "Nearly 43% of kids have been bullied online. 1 in 4 has had it happen more than once.
  2. 70% of students report frequent bullying online.
  3. Over 80% of teens use a cellphone regularly, making it the most common medium for cyber bullying.
  4. 68% of teens agree that cyberbullying is a serious problem.
  5. 81% of young people think bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person. 
  6. 90% of teens who have seen social-media bullying say they have ignored it. 84% have seen others tell cyberbullies to stop.
  7. Only 1 in 10 victims will inform a parent or trusted adult of their abuse.
  8. Girls are about twice as likely as boys to be victims and perpetrators of cyberbullying.
  9. About 58% of kids admit someone has said mean or hurtful things to them online. More than four out ten say it has happened more than once.
  10. Bullying victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider committing suicide.
  11. About 75% of students admit they have visited a website that bashed another student."
So, what can we do to stem the tide of this internet evil? The above article states that one way is to; “Fill up your friends' Facebook feeds with positive posts instead of negative ones. This can boost school-wide morale. Start a Facebook page for students to submit positive acts they see in school to promote a culture of positivity on and offline. Sign up for Positivity Page.”
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The most important thing any parent can do is understand this is a widespread problem and our children are not always open to discuss these peer-related problems because of fear of ridicule or retaliation. Education is key to understanding this widespread issue, which in turn leads to parental action. A good place to start is visiting the website called StopBullying.gov. It provides a wide array of resources for parents and teachers to use to educate our children, other family members and friends.

BSA to the Rescue - Another place to go to is the Boy Scouts of America website for information. They take cyberbullying and a whole list of threats our children face very seriously. The BSA has a “NO Bullying or Cyberbullying” policy. And in case you did not know, the BSA is becoming a co-ed inclusive organization for our kids.  In 2018, Cub Scouts are open to girls and starting in 2019 the girls will be able to join Boy Scout troops. On top of this, it’s important to note that the BSA Venturing program has been co-ed for more than 20 years. In Scouting, your children will be well educated in what to look for and how to avoid cyberbullying. More importantly, all adult leaders (i.e., any parent involved with the troop) must take cyberbullying training and pass a test to help stem this growing online scourge.  

For Scouts, learning about cyberbullying (as well as bullying) is part of their curriculum. For example, scouts are required to participate in earning the “cyber chip”, which includes training about cyberbullying. This is not a one and done program. It is an ongoing program that starts in Cub Scouts and continues through Boy Scouts, Venturing and Sea Scouts.
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So, what do you do if you’re not a Scout parent? You can use the BSA’s resources, along with other resources listed in this article. A couple of excellent articles written on a Scouters Website are “Cyberbullying: What parents and Scout leaders need to know” and “How to understand, recognize and prevent cyberbullying.” Both of these articles provide excellent information about cyberbullying, how to recognize it in our children, how to educate them and most importantly how to avoid being cyberbullied.  One of these articles provides some simple but powerful ways you can help stop cyberbullying. Here’s what it lists;

“Preventing cyberbullying

Now that I’ve laid out the terrifying facts, here’s what can be done.
§  Be aware of what your children are doing online: Know the sites your kids visit and their online activities. Ask where they’re going, what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with. This may include obtaining passwords or monitoring their online behavior, but StopBullying.gov recommends telling them you’ll only use these passwords in case of emergency.
§  Establish rules about technology use: Be clear about what sites they can visit and what they are permitted to do when they’re online. Show them how to be safe online. Remind them about internet privacy and that nothing is truly private once it’s posted online.
§  Understand school and Scouting rules: Odds are your child’s school has policies about appropriate technology use. Scouting has them too. Familiarize yourself with both.

Reporting cyberbullying

These are the steps to take immediately:
§  Don’t respond to and don’t forward cyberbullying messages.
§  Keep evidence of cyberbullying. Record the dates, times and descriptions of instances when cyberbullying has occurred. Save and print screenshots, emails and text messages. Use this evidence to report cyberbullying to web and cellphone service providers.
§  Block the person who is cyberbullying.”

Sitting Back is Not an Option - I have heard people complain that we have too many guns in our country and that guns are too easy to access. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, you need to understand that many of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes were victims of bullying and cyberbullying. Destructive psychological behavior doesn’t just happen. It is manifested from a variety of social pains, and cyberbullying is adding to those pains. Being victimized over and over again has a psychological toll, and we end up paying that toll with our children’s lives.

If that is not enough, understand that many victims turn on themselves. Suicide
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among cyberbullied victims is high.  On the Megan Meier Foundation website, they state:
Suicide is the 2nd ranking cause of death for individuals 15-24 years of age – homicides ranked 3rd (Drapeau & McIntosh, 2015).” If you read some of our other articles listed at the beginning, you would be familiar with the Megan Meier suicide story, a classic story of cyberbullying driving a victim to suicide.

Since I believe that the process of stopping cyberbullying is rooted in education, I am providing a short list of additional resources I felt worth reading. Cyberbullying is a problem for all of us, whether we are parents or not. So, it’s time we take responsibility for stemming the tide of this internet scourge. Some of these resources are also linked throughout the above article. Here's my short list:

BSA on Cyberbullying

Government and other Resources

Articles from Working the Web to Win

Cyberbullying is a growing menace that has long-term consequences for our
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children, family, and our country. The rash of school shootings is just one symptom of this problem. Cyberbullying victims have a high suicide rate and the long-term emotional harm cyberbullying causes should not be underestimated. It’s time that we as responsible adults take this problem seriously. Name calling, online threats, malicious posting and ganging up on children and teens because they are different must stop, if we are to put a halt to this digitally perpetrated scourge. If every adult would step up and just say, “stop that cyberbullying” when they see it, it would make a big dent in the problem. When children and peers are educated to the long-term problems created by cyberbullying, they are more likely to intervene when cyberbullying takes place. An educated child or teenager is more likely to stop bullying and/or cyberbullying when they know it’s the right thing to do. After reading this article, go back and click on the resource links and learn everything you can. Make sure you learn the steps for stopping cyberbullying and that you educate your children and teens. This is a battle we can win if we step up and take responsibility for this growing digital menace. 

That’s my opinion; I look forward to reading yours.

This article discusses the growing menace of cyberbullying and trolling and how it affects our children and teenagers. It provides current statistic and a list of resources anyone can use to learn to look for in victims, as well as what parents can do to help stem this growing problem. Links to private, government and BSA resources are provided for parents to use and share with their teachers, children, family, and friends.

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Hector Cisneros is COO and Director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on BlogTalkRadio.com, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.” 

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