Cyberbullying is Real and More Devastating Than Many Realize

Rep. Reggie Fullwood

Chances are that one out of every four people were bullied in school. It normally happens in middle and high school;and of course it’s normally some kid with self-esteem issues taking those insecurities out on their peers.

I remember my brief encounter with a bully in middle school. The funny part of this story is that I look back and the kid, Peanut, was actually smaller than me. But he was aggressive and only tried to bully some of us who were passive and a little “Nerdy.”

Most who know me know that I was an admitted Nerd although I played sports, but I considered myself a cool Nerd – if there is such a thing.
Looking back on my middle school experience I wonder why I didn’t just knock the kid out or report him. Unfortunately, it is rarely that simple.

By the time I reached high school the bullying had stopped because Peanut and I had an altercation in the gym one day that resulted in him getting a bloody nose. Not that I am promoting violence among students, I am just telling you what happened in my situation.

Besides, my mother always said (like many mothers) if someone hits you, you hit them back.

Today in America bullying has evolved from being a couple of kids on the playground harassing other students to a more complicated and public form of embarrassment. Most have heard the term “Cyberbullying.” What makes cyberbullying potentially worse than just playground bullying is that it is often times played out via Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other social media platforms.

Cyberbullying can be simply defined as – the use of the Internet, cell phones, video game systems, or other technology to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person.

Yes, it’s a new day. Children are bullying by using the Internet as their weapon.

Technology can be a blessing and curse at the same time, because it allows immediate access to information, which can greatly benefit our lives. It can also be used to hurt and embarrasses people to the point of committing suicide – especially young adults.

Parents must be aware of what’s going on with their children. Cyberbulllying isn’t just a trendy word – it’s very real. Studies now show that some 40 percent of teens have been victims of some form of cyberbullying over the past year.

And it’s not as simple as some may think. Cyberbullying can be extremely hurtful because of the freedom of the Internet. What do I mean? Well, some cyberbullies will create online identifications as if they were you and communicate misleading information to your friends or say things about people and attribute it to you.

It is truly a new day, Cyberbullies victimize teens in a number of ways, but according to a study from the National Crime Prevention Council here are the most common forms:

• Nearly 20 percent of teens had a cyberbully pretend to be someone else in order to trick them online, getting them to reveal personal information. The slang word for this is, “Catfishing.”

• Seventeen percent of teens were victimized by someone lying about them online.

• Thirteen percent of teens learned that a cyberbully was pretending to be them while communicating with someone else.

• Ten percent of teens were victimized because someone posted unflattering pictures of them online, without permission.

Because of the number of suicides around the country, this issue is now becoming a mainstream problem. Youth who cyberbully seem to think that it is funny or that it is some joke, not realizing the negative impact it may have on the victim.

Two years ago, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd arrested two middle-school girls for their alleged roles in the suicide of a third girl because of Cyberbullying. During his press conference, Sheriff Judd said there’s a message for bullies and their parents.

Unfortunately, we cannot and should not legislate how our youth use the Internet – that is clearly the role of parents. Education is the key here. Young people have to understand that this form of bullying can be just as hurtful or even worse than traditional bullying.

We must monitor our children and put an end to cyberbullying before another young person takes their life from its negative impact.
Signing off from James Weldon Johnson Middle School,

Reggie Fullwood

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