Bullying is by no means a new phenomenon, but the way bullies are doing it has changed. As of recent years, “cyber bullying,” which is bullying that takes place online, has becoming an increasing issue on the internet.
“I was going to say I’m a victim of cyber bullying, but I’m actually a survivor of cyber bullying,” said Liliana Benoit, a speaker at the recent “Beckoning the Stop to Bullying” anti-bullying rally held in Escanaba.
Liliana is more than just a 13-year-old student from Escanaba. She’s now an anti-bullying activist after enduring cyber bullying herself this past year.
“It felt like my entire world was crumbling down into pieces, it was just terrible,” said Liliana.
Liliana was unexpectedly attacked with cruel and hurtful text messages during a group chat with other teenagers.
“They said things like I was fat, I was stupid, I was pathetic, I was worthless, and I wasn’t worth loving,” said Liliana.
Fortunately, she had her parents and school intervene to stop the harassment. However, Liliana is far from the only teen experiencing cyber bullying. According to the
, nearly 39% of 12 to 17-year-olds in the U.S. have been bullied online in their lifetime, with 17% claiming to have been cyber bullied in the last 30 days.
In the past, those who were bullied in school were often able to escape their tormentors at home, but now that’s no longer the case.
“There’s never going to be a good outcome when it comes to cyber bullying,” said Todd Wilton, a Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent. “I mean it’s comparable to old school bullying, but 10 times worse. It’s online, you can’t get away from it, and it spreads so much faster. It gets to other schools so you can’t even transfer a kid from one school to another to get away from it. It’s going to follow them.”
As a result of cyber bullying, some kids are even resorting to suicide, like 11-year-old
of Marquette, whose mother says he was cyber bullied into taking his own life last March.
In an effort to prevent tragic outcomes like Tysen’s, officials are urging parents to be aware of their children’s internet activities, and encouraging kids to reach out for help when they encounter or witness these types of online behaviors.
“We’re stressing to students that they need to tell someone about it,” said Craig Marker, Youth Services Officer with Marquette City Police. “If they don’t tell a teacher, a parent, their school officer, we can’t help them.”
“Reach out to somebody, don’t wait for someone to notice,” said Liliana. “Even if it’s just a friend you barely know or a person that you’re not even close with, always tell someone.”
Unfortunately bullies aren’t the only ones targeting your family on the web. Tune in to your TV6 Early News at 6pm/5ct on May 3 for the final part of our Online Dangers series, where we’ll talk with experts and victims about online scams to look out for and avoid.