Though most of the readers of Simply Squirrel Food are not in the age group of school children who seem to be the prime targets of cyberbullying, the topic is serious enough for everyone to be on the watch for it. The term is defined on Wikipedia as follows: Cyberbullying is the use of the Internet and related technologies to harm other people, in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner.
Unfortunately, I don't think many of us made it through our school years without the experience of being bullied. The pain was deep yet usually kept personal as we didn't want to add any credibility to the notion that the bully's accusations might have merit. Usually all we had to do was avoid that person and/or report him or her to a superior if we feared physical harm. These days, with the prevalance of camera-equipped cell phones, text messaging and easy internet access, the issue of bullying has become much more serious than the days of old.
When bullying hits the internet, it can no longer be personal or private. The only person who is able to, at least initially, hide behind a veil of anonymity is the prepetrator. The ability to act maliciously and recklessly without being readily identified just adds fuel to the fire. Now even the timid people who would never speak-up for themselves publicly, can feel justified in exacting their revenge online. Once the defamatory information hits the cyber world, it can be easily seen by anyone and everyone and there's no getting it back.
Stories in the news:
'Most Beautiful Teen' Facebook Contest Shut Down As Parents Raise Concerns About Bullying, Safety - Huffington Post
Rutgers Student Dharun Ravi Found Guilty In CyberBullying Case - MTV.com
Cyber Bullying has Memphis Teen’s Family Taking Action - WREG News, Memphis
Though some will argue that a few stories don't add-up to a crisis, there is no question that if you or a family member becomes a victim of such an attack, you will find the matter to be serious and significant. Schools, organizations and government agencies are all trying to formulate and implement safeguards and controls in an effort to mitigate the damages after the fact. Awareness is the first step to protecting ourselves and our families proactively. I found the following website to be very informative: http://www.stopcyberbullying.org/
Have you or anyone close been the victim of cyberbullying? How did you handle it? What advice can you share?
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