What Is Cyber-Bullying?
Cyber-bullying is when a victim is being threatened or constantly harassed by technological means such as email, text messaging or on social networking sites. Depression in children is rising and cyber-bullying is one of the reasons, according to a study of 7,000 American children carried out by the National Institutes of Health. The more a child is bullied, the higher the risk of depression or suicidal thoughts.
Cyber-bulling is suspected of causing an alarming rise in child depression and can contribute to child or teen suicide. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescents Society, suicide is the third leading cause of death in boys and girls aged 15 – 24. The award-winning charity Beat Bullying speculates that in the UK alone, 340,000 children will be cyber-bullied in their lifetimes.
Children that are at high risk of being cyber-bullied include immigrants; children with a different ethnic origin than the majority at the school; children from low-income families; girls and those with special physical or developmental needs. Sometimes cyber-aggression leads to physical aggression from the same bully.
Cyber-bullying or cyber-aggression is similar to traditional fist-to-face school or workplace bullying in that the victim cannot easily escape from it. Children, teens and adults are becoming more reliant on the Internet for homework research or applying for a job. Every time the computer is turned on or the phone rings, the victim wonders if this is another attack.
These attacks from mostly invisible bullies inevitably cause a victim to constantly worry when the next attack is going to happen. In order to eliminate some cyber-aggression, a teen may have to completely stop going to favorite celebrity fan forum or social networking site. Although the victim will be spared some bullying, the victim will also be cut off from any friends he or she had made on the site. A victim’s online or real world friends will rarely if ever intercede between a bully and a victim in order to avoid being bullied. This lack of help from others can also intensify feelings of cyber-bullying depression.
Bullies Of All Ages
Cyber-bullying can happen to people of all ages, but adults usually have learned coping mechanisms. Adults also tend to have a more stable support network of reliable family, friends and health care professionals than children or teenagers. Because children and teenagers feel they are all alone against the world, they can be far more susceptible to depressive thinking than adults.
Victims of cyber-bullying may believe that there is no hope for escape from the tormentors and that he or she cannot find any help. Victims also feel less than human and that the world would be better off without them. Children or teenagers who mention suicide, feelings of uselessness or that the family would be better off without them need to be taken seriously.
Other symptoms that a child or teenager is considering suicide include skipping school or doing poorly at school; lack of personal hygiene and giving away prized possessions.
American Academy of Child and Adolescents Society. “Teen Suicide.” https://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/teen_suicide
“Cyber-bullying linked to spike in depression.” Donna St. George. “The Washington Post.” Sept. 21, 2010. https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/20/AR2010092006150.html
Beat Bullying. “Virtual Violence: Protecting Children From Cyberbullying.” https://www2.beatbullying.org//pdfs/Virtual%20Violence%20-%20Protecting%20Children%20from%20Cyberbullying.pdf