Forty years ago, a child could go home from school to escape his
bullies. But today, cyberbullying can occur around the clock through the use of
social media, texting, videos, email and other technology.
Cyberbullying is one of the biggest issues affecting kids today.
It consists of aggressive and hostile behaviors towards another person through
For the child being bullied, there is no relief. That means it’s up to us as adults to take responsibility for allowing our children to use social media, monitor their interactions, discuss with them what appropriate behavior is and is not and respond when they cross those lines.
This is the second in a series on the school’s role in design and implementation of healthy school initiatives in the communities, towns and large cities across America written by Dr. WiSH – William S. Hesse, Ph.D., and co-authors Cindy Boyum, Shannon Woodruff, Mark Kesler, Jen Guerrette, Ryan Backstrom, Dr. Ann Davis, Lora Potter, Kylene Bogden, Dr. Chris Lineberry of “The Ultimate Guide to Healthy School Design and Implementation” available from Core Purpose Consulting.com.
Children as young as seven years old are being turned loose to use
technology and social media, yet they have no training to explore this
The freedom of learning to drive is comparable to being turned
loose into the cyber landscape.
After earning learner’s permits, teenagers had seven months to
learn how to navigate driving and traffic safely under the tutelage of their
watchful and knowledgeable parents and pass their driver’s test and only then
were they given the freedom to drive independently and explore.
While most social media apps state the age of access is 13 years old or more, there is little to no enforcement of this. That means, youth explore uncharted waters of information, entertainment, and companionship without guidance, wisdom, integrity or compassion. Parents are unknowingly granting access to an entirely new world – one filled with invisible pitfalls, risks and poor decisions.
Before letting youth use social media, it’s important to encourage
them to remember to be compassionate and responsible when interacting with
In addition, take the time to talk with youth about ways to keep
them safe online. That includes reminding them to:
- Never post your personal
- Never share your passwords
- Never add someone on your social
media you do not know
- Change your password twice a year
- Check your digital footprint often
What Cyberbullying is
a repeated willful act to harass, threaten, embarrass, damage, or target
another person. This act is inflicted through the use of electronic devices
using an electronic platform.
- Repeated: The repetition of behavior, not one incident in isolation.
- Willful: The behavior is deliberate and not accidental in action.
- Damage: The targeted person perceives that damage was inflicted.
- Electronic Devices/Medium: Computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices using an electronic medium such as SMS, text, apps, social media, You Tube, forums, gaming, etc. This element is what distinguishes cyberbullying from traditional bullying.
is a growing problem occurring inside and outside of the school day. Cyberbully
does not discriminate; it affects children, adolescents, and adults all over
the world. Cyberbully has no gender,
race, geographic, cultural, or social economic boundaries.
For the first time in years, cyberbullying has surpassed bullying as the most common type of harassment that middle school and high school students experience. In fact, the Pew Research Center found that over 59% of U.S. teens have been cyberbullied or harassed online with 90% saying it was a major problem for school age kids.
Core Purpose Consulting.com video: Healthy School Guide introduction
in Cyberbullying by age groups
Researchers have investigated age
trends in cyberbullying and victimization across several countries and estimate
that over 200 million children and youth around the world are being victimized
by their peers. It is estimated that 10 -15 % of children repeatedly cyberbully
others and are repeatedly cyberbullied.
The research found cyberbullying:
typically in the third grade using electronic methods for social exclusion –
leaving kids out and knowingly hurting feelings;
between the ages of 11 and 15, which may be due to puberty, school changes,
and/or development of social skills, and usually carries over from a
face-to-face encounter leading to sexual harassment;
in 9th grade with the transition from middle or elementary school to high
throughout high school at high levels shifting from the use of written name
calling, insults, and lies to more deceptive visual acts such as sexting,
tend to begin using social forms of bullying at earlier ages than boys and
continue longer in the cyberbullying and victimization.
Below are some examples of
cyber-bullying by the ages to increase awareness.
Ages 6-9: Most children are introduced to email and
shared drives in school. The intention is to foster a community of information
sharing and collaboration. Oftentimes however, these young children are
intrigued by the secrecy of sharing information in this new way. They can
misuse the platforms by sending and sharing information and gossip about
classmates. They are unaware that the actions they initiate or participate in
digitally can have real life effects. They oftentimes would share information
or participate in things that they wouldn’t in face-to-face interactions.
Ages 10-12: Children this age are very comfortable
with technology, having used it for many years at school and home. The majority
of them have their own phones and tablets, and they are experienced at sending
and sharing information at lightning speed. Bullying in real life is prevalent
at this age, and the digital landscape is no exception. Many children have
social media accounts, Spam accounts, and access to a wide range of apps to interact
with their peers. A Spam account is a secret or alternate account that they set
up to have a greater range of freedom from supervision. Even if parents are
being diligent, it can be very easy for a determined child to gain frightening
freedom in the social media world. Spam accounts are used for gossip, roasting
classmates, pursuing illicit relationships, posting unapproved pictures,
Ages 13-15: Well into puberty, this age group is
exploring romantic connections online. They are bombarded with highlight reels
of others’ lives and face-tuned selfies. This age group is especially
vulnerable to exclusion. They have an innate need to be part of a pack and
their greatest fear is being left out, digitally and physically. This age group
is also known for participating in trickery, which is coaxing a peer into
admitting or saying something and posting for others to see. They are also very
adept at hacking into each other’s phones and accounts and interacting/posting
as imposters of the victim.
Ages 15-17: Having been raised in this environment
for ten or more years, these teenagers are vulnerable to all of the above.
Cyberstalking and harassment are prevalent in this age group. When one is
scorned, they can often be the victim of heavy backlash that can include
posting or sending unwanted or intimidating messages repeatedly. An escalation
of this is flaming, where the same interaction is posted in forums or groups
for public humiliation.
Warning signs and repercussions
Since cyberbullying involves an
electronic device, investigate a child’s digital behavior to see if there any
- Usage increase or decrease;
- Avoidance of talking about what they are doing;
- Reactions of laughter, anger, and/or upset to what is occurring on their device;
- Secretive and hides the screen or device;
- Shuts down or opens new media accounts;
- Avoids social situations – especially if enjoyed previously;
- Withdraws or loses interest in people and activities – depressed actions.
Cyberbullying is linked with several serious forms of maladjustment including psychological dysfunction, low academic performance, social difficulties, and health problems.
Increased anxiety during testing and how to fight back
victimization is related to both negative short-term and long-term effects,
such as depression, anxiety, delinquency, and criminal behavior, which can
carry over into adulthood.
Furthermore, research has indicated
that childhood cyberbullying is linked to violence, heavy drinking and
marijuana use at age 21 and later, and students involved in bullying show more
impulsivity and tend to gravitate towards antisocial peers.
What should you do if you suspect
is a form of bullying and should be taken seriously.
cyberbullying happens online, consider the following actions:
- Observe – Be aware of usage, monitor time spent on device(s),
and watch for warning signs;
- Talk – Learn about what is happening online and what
cyberbullying means. Ask questions to learn if cyberbullying is taking
place, how it started, and who is involved;
- Record – Keep a record through notes and/or screenshots of
harmful posts or content if possible. The record will help document the
cyberbullying for use by law enforcement and/or school officials if
- Report – Use school policies and processes of social media
platforms by reporting any violations.
Contact app or social media platforms to report offensive content
and have it removed. Report to the
police any physical threats, or if a potential crime or illegal behavior
is or has occurred.
- Support – Provide positive influence through peers, mentors, and
trusted adults to quickly intervene publicly where negative or hurtful
content posts have been directed at a child. Offer professional support
and/or counseling for the victimizes and perpetrators of cyberbully as
To get help with cyberbullying:
- Contact 1-201-463-8663 or
- Tell a Teacher, Counselor or
Principal at your school
- National Suicide Prevention
Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Steps to prevent
a healthy school culture is your best defense against bullying of any form,
The Ultimate Guide to Healthy School Design and Implementation is the most comprehensive and virtual foundation for support and inspiration to accomplish this on the market today.
the Healthy School Guide, not only does the social and emotional climate module
cover mindful technology, it also demonstrates how your Student Wellness
Advocacy Teams (SWAT) can lead your school campus in all the main aspects of a
healthy school, including cyber bullying.
can follow one high school’s Instagram on their student led healthy culture
quest at OC_SWAT.
Pick up your copy of The Ultimate Guide to Healthy School Design and Implementation at CorePurposeConsulting.com and continue to build your healthy school culture that works for your school.
As a society, it is our
responsibility to encourage and expect positive digital citizenship.
The Golden Rule – to treat others as you would like to be treated – is key in this situation. Teaching young people to be compassionate and responsible is our ultimate legacy.
1. CorePurposeConsulting.com‘s The Ultimate Guide to Healthy School and Implementation
Our MISSION at Core Purpose Consulting is to revolutionize education by shifting the focus to the Whole Child…By helping schools to achieve healthy school and community environments, movement driven learning concepts, educational equity, healthy leadership, physical education and activity programs, nutrition programs, and complete active school programming.
Our VISION… Connecting… Inspiring… Revolutionizing.
Whether you are a new healthy school, a developing healthy school or a healthy school that excels already, The Ultimate Guide to Healthy School Design and Implementation is customizable to meet your school’s needs.
If at any time you need assistance with any aspect, feel free to contact us. Our team is also available to assist with upgrade opportunities such as trainings and professional development needs specific to each module. We are happy to help make your school’s “WiSH” come true.