The Rise of Cyberbullying

The snapchat app with a message saying "You don't have any snaps :("

The rise of technology for this cyber-savvy generation has led to a rise of a much more serious issue: cyberbullying.
While some may not feel that this a dangerous issue, the facts prove otherwise.
According to a recent article from CNN Health, cyberbullying and bullying in school have more in common than one would think.
Justin W. Patchin, who studies the phenomenon at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and was interviewed in the article, says that “both behaviors include harassment, humiliation, teasing and aggression. Cyberbullying presents unique challenges in the sense that the perpetrator can attempt to be anonymous, and attacks can happen at any time of day or night.”
Carol Jones (her name has been changed to protect her privacy), who works in Youth Ministry in Cary, NC said, “current youth have access to bullying and exclusion on their phones or iPod touches at every moment of every day.”
She says that in the past four months she has had two youths attempt suicide and were admitted for a week or longer due to issues related to cyberbullying.
The ages are getting younger and younger as phones are getting cheaper and IPod Touches are being bought for younger and younger children.
In most cases the victim knows who their bully is. Some may consider them a bully at school or at work, but other times it is someone they consider their friend.
Mary Smith, a resident in Cary, North Carolina (her name has been changed to protect her privacy), says her cyber-bullying experience that involved someone who she considered her best friend. The two also worked together.
She woke up one morning to a message “the better part of five paragraphs long about how I am miserable, am terrible to work with, and don’t apply myself,” she said.
She later connected the dots about her bully recently becoming roommates with another coworker “who will openly admit she hates everybody and does nothing but complain about people before she smacks herself in the face or breaks her clipboard over the cooling rack.”
Smith said she responded to the message and blocked the sender and the other coworker and unfriended them.
She still has times at the job that she has to see them but there is no communication that goes on any longer between them.
Another, newer form of cyberbullying has taken place as the rise of social network apps have become more popular. A local youth group counselor, Jane Johnson (her name has also been changed to protect her identity), described the horrific ways that middle schoolers have used a newer app called Snapchat.
The way this app works is you can send pictures to other users. The receiver can only see the picture for a couple seconds and then it disappears and is no longer able to be opened. Teens have used this to send harassing pictures and messages to others, not allowing them time to report the image because it is only able to be seen for a short time.
“It is so much more common than you can imagine,” Johnson said.
You may be wondering how we as everyday individuals possibly make a difference when it comes to something that happens on the internet. You can do a lot, actually.
A young 16-year-old victim of cyberbullying and bullying in person stood up and wanted to raise awareness. Emily-Anne Rigal founded the WeStopHate organization to do just that.
Rigal, now 18, and Brandon Turlley, also 18 and a victim of cyberbullying, recently designed the campaign for a Facebook Bully Button which would appear just like the “like” button but instead would formally report cyberbullying to the social network and would respond with having the bullies suspended for a given time.
This campaign is currently going on through the website. A link is under the “Get Involved” tab.
It takes more than a single person to stop the epidemic, but it only takes one person to start that change.
“This is not something that will be going away anytime soon,” Jones said. “It doesn’t have to happen alone– you can share what you’re going through. You aren’t the only victim of this, and there is hope”

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