Although hacking and other cyber criminal activity is a serious threat, there is another threat affecting middle and high school students: cyberbullying.
What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying happens when a child or teenager uses technology to harass another child or teenager. A large number of activities can be considered cyberbullying, whether it’s a demeaning or threatening text message or something more malicious. Another example of a common cyberbullying tactic is publicly posting embarrassing pictures of the target.
Some forms of cyberbullying can lead to criminal charges. When someone breaks into a Facebook account to post embarrassing status updates, it can be considered a form of identity theft. The bottom line is that even seemingly harmless activity could easily evolve into something much more serious and end in severe consequences for both the victim and the bully.
The other problem with bullying online is that it isn’t composed of a handful of isolated incidents. It’s an issue that is prevalent in both the middle school and high school demographic, and many parents don’t know it is happening.
The child safety company uKnowKids recently released an infographic which shared some statistics on the prevalence of cyberbullying. Warning – some of these numbers may shock you! Although 33 percent of all teenagers have suffered from some form of cyberbullying, only 7 percent of parents expressed concern about the issue. Cyberbullying prevalence in middle school is even higher, with 97 percent of middle schoolers reporting they have been bullied online.
Parents can take steps to protect their children by ensuring their kids know about cyberbullying, including how to identify it and what they should do when it happens. UKnowKids also suggests monitoring online activity to catch unreported cyberbullying. For teachers, classroom software to monitor student activity may be able to help identify occurrences.
Who do you think should be responsible for preventing cyberbullying incidents? Should schools have more power to stop it or should parents take a more active role in protecting their kids?