There's a new kind of bully in town.
Increasingly today, young people are using technology against each other. The new kind of bully uses email, instant messages, cell phones, text messages, photos, videos and social networking sites to humiliate and threaten others. For example, a student uses her cell phone camera to take a picture of a classmate changing clothes after gym, then uploads it onto her computer and forwards it to friends along with cruel commentary. What makes cyberbullying so easy and tempting is the anonymity the Web provides along with a potentially large audience. And, even if a student identifies himself, the fact he doesn't instantly "see" people's reactions to his behavior adds to the attractiveness and ease of cyberbullying.
Wiredsafety.org provides the following statistics to show how common cyberbullying is:
*90% of middle school students have had their feelings hurt online.
*75% have visited a Web site bashing another student.
*40% have had their password(s) stolen and changed by a bully who then locked them out of their own account or sent communication posing as them.
*Only 15% of parents polled knew what cyberbulling was.
State legislators and educators are starting to incorporate cyberbullying into their policies or drafting new laws, but parents need to become more aware of cyberbullying and learn what they can do to protect their child from either becoming a victim or stop their child from becoming a cyberbully.
For more information on cyberbullying and other related Internet safety concerns, visit these sites: wiredsafety.org and isafe.org