Cyberbullying: the New Abuse of the Modern World

Cyberbullying has been an ongoing issue not just in the United States but for other countries as well. According to the Funk and Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia the definition of cyberbullying is intentional and repeated harm inflicted on people through the use of computers, cellular telephones, and other electronic devices (Cyberbullying). Cyberbullies often mock, harass, threaten, or humiliate others through electronic messages, images, or video (Cyberbullying). With technology continuing to progress, we have more sites like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. Having more social media app’s means that cyberbullying has a greater chance to occur. From the article that Cait Caffrey wrote Cyberbullying in 2015, 16 percent of students surveyed stated that they had been bullied electronically in the previous twelve months (Caffrey). The more people using the internet which allows more of cyberbullying to happen which makes more people being affected by it. Cyberbullying can cause long-lasting effects not only on the ones being bullied, but their families as well.

There has been many incidents about kids being cyberbullied like for instance the one in Caffrey’s article, a thirteen-year-old girl named Megan Meier of Missouri committed suicide after a campaign of harassment over the Internet (Caffrey). Megan was badly bullied to the point that taking her life was the only option for her. Megan’s death had a significant impact that it proposed a bill known as the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act. (Caffrey) According to Hinduja and Patchin of the Cyberbullying Research Center, as of September 2014, twenty US states had legislation and/or policies that specifically addressed cyberbullying. Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia had anti-bullying legislation in place (Caffrey).

Another incident that occurred from cyberbullying is from an article written by Robert Mangelsdorf, a Maple Ridge teen who committed suicide was likely the victim of a year-long campaign of bullying and harassment on the Internet and in real life (Mangelsdorf). The teen that committed suicide was named Amanda Todd. Before she committed suicide, she made a YouTube video called My story: Struggling, bullying, suicide, self-harm. In the video, Todd describes how she was bullied online and at school, about her struggles with drugs, and alcohol and harming herself. She also describes an incident where she was attacked and taunted at school (Mangelsdorf).

Since the first decade of the 2000s, young people have been especially drawn to social networking websites, such as MySpace and Facebook, and video-sharing websites, such as YouTube (Cyberbullying). With the new generation, more and more are using the Internet to interact with others. People are using the internet to communicate more than they do in person, which puts them in a higher risk to being cyberbullied. Cyberbullying can be even more challenging because of several unique features. First, victims of cyberbullying sometimes do not know who the bully is, or why they are being targeted (Cyberbullying). Using the internet people can disguise themselves as someone else. They can be anyone they want to be because they are hiding behind a screen. Like Caffrey said in his article, individuals communicating through a computer screen can behave and interact differently than they could or normally would face to face. Bullying had the potential to be even more vicious than it would be in face-to-face situations (Caffrey). Another unique feature that was mentioned in the Cyberbullying article is that it can often go viral (Cyberbullying). Once the cyberbullying goes viral there is no way of completely deleting what is being said or what is being put on the internet. It makes it harder for the cyberbullying to stop. It is a vicious cycle that the individuals undergo with the internet.

Since our technology has evolved so much through the years, so has the cyberbullying. Not only do the cyberbully use hurtful words, they are also using their cameras to take inappropriate pictures or make it look like an inappropriate picture. Technology also makes it easy for cyberbullies to have the capability to even have situations or events recorded. Some young people have recorded unauthorized videos of classmates and uploaded them to the Internet for others to rate, organize, and search for videos or photographs (Cyberbullying). Cyberbullying not only can be hurtful to the ones being bullied, but it can also cause other effects as well. According to Caffrey’s article, cyberbullying has had distressing effects on victims and is damaging to their mental and emotional health. Much experience anxiety, depression, and other related stress disorders. Victims have also been known to become isolated and undergo severe changes in behavior and mood. Some have committed suicide as a result of being relentlessly cyberbullied (Caffrey). Not only does Caffrey’s article prove that cyberbullying causing mental health so does the article that Mark Ellis wrote. There was a survey done in the UK that more than 9,000 ages 12 to 20-years old have revealed increased cases of mental health problems for bullying victims (Ellis).

Cyberbullying not only affects the one being bullied but also their families. Sometimes parents have a challenging time understanding or aren’t able help with their child that is being cyberbullied. Sometimes parents don’t even know that their child is being bullied cause of the lack of communication and/or knowledge of what cyberbullying is. Many adults have not grown up with computer technology as an important part of their lifestyle, as many younger people have. Consequently, many adults may not be able to relate to the problem of cyberbullying (Cyberbullying). With cyberbullying being more and more common what is being done to help and prevent cyberbullying? In the article written by Kate Javier, around 150 elementary and high school teachers in Navotas City recently attended a seminar on various forms of child abuse, including cyberbullying. In the seminar dubbed as Capability-Bullying Seminar on Child Safeguarding and Online Safety, the teachers from 21 public schools learned to detect, prevent and manage child abuse and bullying online (Javier).

Cyberbullying continues to be a problem in our society and something needs to be done. Do you think that big companies should be liable for what is being put on the internet? Well according to John Bornstein wrote in his article, new laws that would see big tech companies, such as Facebook, Google and Twitter liable for harmful caused by cyberbullying and violence are urgently needed to ensure social media platforms have a strong financial incentive stamp out harmful behavior online (Bornstein). I believe that if we do have laws that are placed then there will be a lower percentage of cyberbully attacks, but if there is no action being done to the individual that is doing the cyberbullying, then they are just going to continue being a bully. There should be consequences for their actions. Politicians should approach the need to make cyberspace safe much in the same way that our current laws require workplaces to be safe by imposing a duty of care on the big tech companies and by allowing individuals to sue when that duty is breached (Bornstein). Cyberbullying can leave a long-lasting effects to the ones being bullied. Something needs to be done about this. If we continue to ignore the issue on cyberbully, it is only going to get worse with our technology growing and becoming more and more advanced. Let’s not continue to ignore the issue, but fix it.

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