What Is Cyberbullying?
The growth of social media has been dramatic and it has become integrated into mainstream life. Unfortunately, within social media there is little to no regard for what is said, and it can become open-hunting season or a playground for the bully types. With the social network explosion, cyberbullying has become extremely common. People can rant, rave, lie, taunt, post rumors or gossip, and destroy lives. Statistically, 40% of children and teens are victims of cyberbullying. However, it’s not just children who are victims or cyberbullies. Adults can just as easily become prey or perpetrator of these vicious attacks.
Being the victim of a cyberbully can take a tremendous toll on a person emotionally and psychologically. It can render a person helpless and feeling violated. Bullying is linked to numerous negative outcomes, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicide. Children and adults need support to deal with these situations.
Combatting the Cyberbullies
As a general rule, the US Stopbulllying.gov website advises not to respond to or forward cyberbully messages. Further, you should keep evidence of the cyberbullying attack by recording dates, times, and descriptions of instances. Save and print your screenshots, emails, and text messages. Use all this evidence to report cyberbullying to your web and cell phone providers. Block the cyberbully. Report the cyberbully to law enforcement and school officials. The website also offers information on Lifeline, the national crisis center hotline.
A New Technological Approach
Around the world, and certainly within the US, apps are transforming the way we live. While many apps let you set limitations on website and mobile phone use and will send you alerts when alarming keywords are used, there is one app that is dedicated to providing the resources necessary to stop a cyberbully in his or her tracks and provide easy access to a 24-hour support system.
CNN named STOP!t (#stopitcyberbully) as one of the 5 apps that will help change the world. It’s a simple, fast, and powerful app for students and school districts that is also being adapted for use by companies and organizations. Currently, the app can help students deal with the growing instances of cyberbullying and is being used by school districts as a deterrent against cyber-abuse and harassment. The app has 4 easy-to-use functions and empowers students to take screenshots and forward them on to a trusted adult, report anonymously, and secure documentation quickly for law enforcement. It also provides a 24-hour help support system. For school officials, the app includes a real-time incident management system so that issues within the schools can be resolved before they go too far. The STOP!t app hopes to put the power to prevent cyberbullying in everyone’s hands.
Laws and Policies to Stop Cyberbullying
Laws are being enacted to help combat cyberbully attacks, and policies are being adapted to address cyberbullying and related behaviors across the US. Unfortunately, there is no federal law to date that specifically deals with cyberbullying. To find out more about the laws in your state, visit http://www.stopbullying.gov/laws/index.html.
- 5 apps to help change the world. CNN website. Updated June 27, 2014. http://money.cnn.com/gallery/technology/mobile/2014/06/27/apps-social-activists/3.html.
- Stavas N. The cyberbully. Medical Bag website. January 7, 2015. https://www.themedicalbag.com/doctor-blogs/natalie-stavas/the-cyberbully.
- Stopbullying website. http://www.stopbullying.gov/.
- STOPiT website. http://stopitcyberbully.com/.