Outlook

Address Immediately All Cases of Cyberbullying

Sage Bertch, Copy Editor

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Despite concerns, cyberbullying is not on the rise. So take heart, if you are a victim, that people are learning how to be kind and that they can be blocked or legally held accountable for their behavior (which is not quite the same thing as learning to be nice, but a close second).

Following the 2016 presidential election, concerns that negative rhetoric expressed in the course of the election cycle was leading to increased bullying among students.

Although these concerns were supported by anecdotal reports from educators across the country, nationally representative data was unavailable at the time to support these claims.

If anything, these stories were a good moment to communicate to all that, despite people running our country using vulgar, caustic and violent encouraging rhetoric, the rest of us won’t be following that path.

Interestingly enough, when data did emerge about cyberbullying, according to the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey data, approximately one in five 9th through 12th grade students reported being bullied; the difference between the 2015 was about 20.2% and 2017 was about 19%, and so a 2% difference is not statistically significant.

This kind of 2% difference held across racial and sexual orientation subgroups.

These numbers may be difficult to accept as Melania Trump has made combating online bullying and fostering kindness one of the key elements of her “Be Best” campaign, “I encourage everyone to be kind to each other and treat each other with respect in everyday life and on social media,” she said to Emily Heil from The Washington Post on October 23, 2018.

With all of the above being said, the entire concept of bullying someone online is astounding to me. That we are still in the age where people behind the mask of online, reach out and verbally slap at someone, is pathetic.

When somebody isn’t doing so well in life or low self esteem, they will target those who are weaker than they are, in order to feel more empowered. before the age of difgital, bullies would pass notes, leave notes and whisper gossip.

My research suggests that bullying gives the aggressor an adrenaline rush, a feeling of power and a feeling that they have value.

However, those who bully are avoiding their own problems, their own issues and instead prefer to focus on others…kind of like small children who point to others as misbehaving rather than focusing on their own misbehavior.

There are practical and legal methods of getting someone to stop their abuse. If you find yourself in this situation, you need to understand that the abuse is not your fault. All social instructions they have experienced so far in life, they have ignored.

They have, essentially, failed at every teaching of how to be normal. You are the last chance they have to stop their cruelty, their immoral behavior as they will move on to others after they are done with you.

Media platforms are also getting better at ways to block others and report harassment. If enough people complain about the same person, that person will be blocked. Another way of protecting yourself is gathering evidence of every conversation through text and call or sharing your account with somebody else so there is a third party involved.

Telling bullies to stop is a huge, difficult first step but also the most critical when communicating your experience. Feel free to have someone else type the words: stop communicating with me.

The victim gives the bully more power by just responding to them, so do not engage on any level other than for them to: stop. They will get upset as you delete their comments and refuse to engage, and escalate their behavior.

Please remember that you are in control when you are online. If you become targeted,  you have the power to say no and take action.

Act immediately and with confidence.

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Address Immediately All Cases of Cyberbullying