by Amber-Chanel Anderson

When you go online, are you hesitant to check your email, your Facebook account, or your instant messages because you are scared of what you will find? Do you find yourself worried and scared after checking your cell phone and finding a vicious text message? More and more teens in today’s society are either partaking in cyber bullying or becoming victims of cyber bullying, and many fail to see how serious the issue is until drastic effects occur.

Cyber bullying is when someone is tormented, threatened or harassed using the Internet, mobile phone, or another form of digital technology. There are five common forms of cyber bullying, which are:

1. Harassment: repeatedly sending insulting messages.

2. Denigration: distributing information about another that is derogatory and untrue through the internet.

3. Flaming: online “fighting” using electronic messages with vulgar language.

4. Impersonation: breaking into an email or social networking account and using that person’s online identity to send or post vicious or embarrassing material to or about others.

5. Outing and Trickery: sharing someone’s secrets or embarrassing information and forwarding it to others.

When a child, preteen, or teen becomes a victim of cyber bullying, he/she will eventually face both physical and emotional effects. Their self-esteem tends to become lower as the cyber bullying continues, and he/she may become depressed and isolated. A child, preteen, or teen who once loved going online and using the computer may begin to slowly stay more and more away from the computer. He/she also may begin to avoid school, and a more drastic effect is making a decision of committing suicide.

Schools try to becoming involved with cyber bullying cases by disciplining the student for cyber bullying actions that take place off-campus and outside of school hours, but are often sued for exceeding their authority and violating the student’s free speech right. However, schools can be very effective brokers in working with the parents to stop cyber bullying situations. Schools can also educate the students on cyber ethics and the law. In very rare cases, schools can sometimes avoid the claim that their actions exceed their legal authority for off-campus cyber bullying actions.

Even though schools are doing their best to get involved in cyber bullying cases, the youth and parents can get involved too! The youth can help prevent cyber bullying by being smart online, meaning thinking about what you post or say and setting privacy settings on your accounts. If you ever become a victim of cyber bullying, you can make it stop by talking with someone you trust, not responding to cyber bullying, keeping evidence of cyber bullying, and blocking the person who is cyber bullying you. Parents, be sure to always communicate with your children and make sure you have a grasp of what is going on in their day to day lives. Develop and enforce rules for their safety when going online, and be aware of where and when your child goes online. IF your child becomes a victim of cyber bullying, contact law enforcement immediately, never wait too long.