Teaching Teens to Become Digital Avengers

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Fighting Cyberbullying

Content and images provided by Deborah Lansing

Content and images provided by Deborah Lansing

isolation

The call for a fight against cyberbullying has never been more urgent than now, especially with statistics showing how suicide has become the second leading cause of death for teens. Cyberbullying leads to strong feelings of isolation in the victims, more so in those who don’t have a support system at home.

This form of abuse suffocates the victims because unlike bullying in real life, where they can escape from it once they are out of school, cyberbullying reaches the person everywhere, even in the comfort of his or her own room.

Beating cyberbullying requires a new generation of children who are raised to say no to this form of abuse in the age of connection. We need to arm children with a sense of empathy so that they are not apathetic when they come across cyberbullying, as 90% of teens have admitted to doing. Children need to stand up to bullies even when they are not the victims, by reporting abuse online or to an adult and reaching out privately to the victim to show them support.

 

FEAR

With 81% of teens saying that it is far easier to bully someone online than in real life, children have to be armed with the knowledge that if they ever find themselves the victims of cyberbullying, then they should turn to an adult they can trust to share this bad experience.

Only 1 in 10 children will tell an adult about their abuse. Whether it is embarrassment, fear or other negative thoughts that keep them from opening up, as parents and educators, being perceptive and knowing what is going on in our children’s lives will help in us being kept in the loop when it comes to the good and the bad.

Cyberbullying comes in many forms and children need to be aware of all of these, so that they don’t indulge in any of them and become cyberbullies themselves. Mean texts and images, rude and hurtful comments are all types of cyberbullying. Other forms such as threats and blackmail also fall under this form of abuse.

 

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privacy

The latter are often used when the cyberbully has leverage on the victim such as inappropriate images or a password the victim would have shared with the cyberbully, thinking they could be trusted. Instilling a sense of privacy in children and teaching them that some things should never be shared online, because of the serious consequences they could lead to, is another way of keeping children from becoming victims of cyberbullying.

The sense of intolerance towards cyberbullying has to be ingrained in ourselves and in our children, if we ever want to see this social issue being stopped. Every one of us can become a victim of cyberbullying or we can end up becoming bullies ourselves. Only in realizing the negative effects this form of abuse can have on a person will we be able to make the online world a better place through action.

national suicide prevention lifeline

Cyberbullying is no joke and something that must be taken seriously by teens and parents. One great resource that can be used is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline online or at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The toll-free call goes to the nearest crisis center in their national network. These centers provide 24-hour crisis counseling specially on topics related to cyberbullying.