Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Walking the Tightrope of Cyberspace--Coping with Cyberbullying

The poor girl--not only does she have an ugly green dress, but it looks like she might fall into the endless depths of cyberspace. This is where she could smack into the internet bullies floating around (who, no doubt would make fun of her dress, and probably her earmuffs).

Unfortunately, there is much more to stake here than a bad wardrobe. Female cyberbullies can be downright vicious.Over one third of the adolescent girls surveyed in a study done by the Cyberbullying Research Center (see the link on the sidebar) have been bullied online.  Name calling and the spreading of false rumors are quite common in cyberspace. Online threats, though rarer, still happen at an alarming rate--11.2 % of the 3,141 young girls surveyed reported being physically threatened.

Exactly who are these cyberbullies? Here are the statistics:

31.3% were friends from school (talk about frenemies!)
36.4% were other people from school
28.2% were from a chat room
20.5% unknown!

When the researchers asked a girl about her emotions when she was cyberbullied, she said, "It makes me scared. I [sometimes don't] know the person and that gets me pretty scared."

That is scary! At least back in the day we could put a face to our bullies. We could even figure out their handwriting in their nasty notes to us. How frightening it must be to those girls who have no idea where the venom spewed at them comes from. It's so easy for the bullies to mask their identities on the internet, which of course leads to no accountability.

The girls in the study did take some measures to avoid cyberbullying by talking to their parents, contacting their internet service provider, and limiting there use of the internet. No one mentioned contacting law enforcement.

Although most of the girls being harassed online did not experience any significant emotional distress, it's the few that we really worry about. Recently a 15-year-old girl named Amanda Cummings jumped in front of a bus. She was cyberbullied on Facebook before and even after her death.

Would Amanda still be alive if she was bulllied in the traditional way? We'll never know, but we must not put up with the torment of others, either in the cyber world or the physical world.

I wish you all peace this day.

Sources: Burgess-Proctor, A.,Prachin,J.W., & W.,Hinduja, S. (2010). Cyberbullying and online harassment: Reconceptualizing the victimization of adolescent girls.

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