"Cyberbullying happens when teens use the internet, cell phones, or other devices to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person." --National Crime Prevention Council
In the recent Not In Our School video, "Students Take on Cyberbullying," Watchung Hills Regional High School students confront the threat of cyberbullying--a rapidly growing phenomenon that is uniquely affecting an entire generation of technology-savvy middle and high school students across the nation.
In the video, we hear of students who have fallen victim to this increasingly alarming trend. Recent research conducted by the PEW Research Center Internet & American Life Project reported that 88 percent of students surveyed about cyberbullying have witnessed peers being mean or cruel online.
Cyberbullying takes bullying to a new level by following students even after they leave school campuses. For a generation that relies heavily on technology in education as well as social platforms, the negative consequences of unfiltered and anonymous interactions on the internet and through mobile phones are leaving their mark.
Taking a Stand Against Cyberbullying
The good news is, some are using these popular platforms to speak out against bullying. From victims to educators and celebrities, there are currently numerous campaigns in existence, warning about the dangers of cyberbullying.
While 95 percent of social-media using teens who have witnessed cruel behavior on networking sites say that the bullying is usally ignored, 84 percent also report having seen people defend the person being harrassed.
One student who decided to take a stand is Cody Rogers, an Oklahoma teen who was reportedly beaten unconscious because of his sexual orientation after defending a female friend at a party. After the beating, Rogers used social media tools to upload a picture of his injuries, hoping to address bullying of the LGBT communities in his state.
Rogers recently launched a Facebook campaign to appeal to empathetic social media users in an effort to end bullying. With nearly 11,000 "likes," Rogers' Facebook page "Help Stop the Stomping," is an example of numerous campaigns urging young adults to be more mindful and accountable for their behavior--both online as well as in real life.
While individual efforts have pointed to the dire need for action against cyberbullying, Facebook has picked up the thread on the anti-bullying movement. Recently, Facebook partnered with Time Warner to end bullying by launching the Stop Bullying: Speak Up Social Plegde Application, an interactive tool that provides practical information about prevention, and encourages the creation of school based anti-bullying groups on Facebook.
What are some other innovative ways to address and prevent bullying? To what extent are social media sites responsible for stepping in if a user is being bullied?
Share your thoughts!