The internet as we know it can be a very useful tool but at the same time it can be used as a very deadly weapon. Right now cyber bullying is becoming a very popular trend amongst young individuals. There is face to face bullying, which many of us (though we should not be) are accustomed to seeing such as kids getting pushed into lockers or having their lunch money stolen; cyber bullying though brings it to a whole new level. Cyber bullying is an easy way for an attacker to pick on his or her prey. It can be done anonymously through websites such as Formspring.com where people can ask or practically say whatever they please to you and they are able to hide their face. It can also be done through websites such as Facebook or Twitter. According to endcyberbullying.org a survey by i-Safe America was posted that revealed some very interesting statistics. Forty-two percent of kids have been bullied while they were online, one in four of those kids have had it happen to them more than once. Thirty-five percent of kids have been threatened online, and about one in five of those kids have again had it happen to them more than once. What is even scarier is that fifty-eight percent of kids that it has had it happen to them have not told their parents or an elder.
Cyber bullying knows no discrimination as it affects everyone of every race equally. McKaela Bayne was a victim of cyber bullying back in December of 2011 by none other than her best friend of seven years. “I was shocked. I didn’t know what made her do this to me. We were best friends; we knew each other’s families, in the same groups since the sixth grade and this all happened my first year of college.” Cyber bullying does not have to be from somebody you do not know. As seen here sometimes even your best friends can turn on you. She would write sub-statuses about Mckaela on Facebook and Twitter with things such as “”You have no friends,” or “I’m going to turn your friends against you.” Insults included derogatory names, and “how none of my friends ever liked me.” What was important was that she didn’t let it get to her “Nowadays you hear all of these things happening over the computer and people committing suicide over a cyber bullying incident.” McKaela knew that if she gave in and retaliated she would be giving the bully just what she wanted.
Cyber bullying is not just emotionally scarring to someone but can also have a demeaning impact psychologically. “I think it affects their self esteem, I think it affects their ability to maintain friendships and form new friendships, I think it impacts anxiety and depression. I think those are probably the most common things I see with students,” said Maggie Marcincuk, a counselor at Suffolk County Community College in Selden, New York, who has done multiple presentations on bullying and cyber bullying. Not being able to maintain or form new friendships can send a person down an even deeper downward spiral sinking them further into a depressed state. You would think that after high school the drama would stop when in fact college students today still get cyber bullied. “I’m one of the few counselors that do personal counseling. There have been students who have come in to talk about cyber bullying,” she added.
Stereotypically speaking people think that a bully is the “tough guy” who just likes to pick on people smaller than him or her when in reality they are the ones who really need help. “I think anyone who bullies is in need of help themselves that they might be crying out for their own help. I think sometimes they might be a victim of bullying at home,” said Marcincuk. Often times children who are pushed around and bullied at home, whether it is by the parents or an older sibling, that child deems it ok to take out all of their pent up anger and frustration on someone who is an easy target. For them cyber bullying is an easy escape because not only can they hide behind a computer but they can also remain anonymous.
According to Marcincuk, statistically speaking, people who bully by the age of twenty four are sixty percent more likely to have a criminal conviction by that age. That tells us that they are troubled themselves and they need some kind of compassion, although it is hard to show compassion for someone who pushes others around for pure enjoyment. Marcincuk stated that years ago when there wasn’t all of this technology, the person being bullied kind of got a reprieve when they went home and they were able to get away from it; but not with cyber bullying, it’s twenty-four seven.
Cyber bullying is not a joke and is not something that should be taken lightly. Most people who cyber bully don’t realize the impact that they might be having on their victim emotionally and psychologically. Many lives are taken each year because people don’t know how to handle a cyber bully. If you are being cyber bullied, take a stand and say something to an elder. Ways to ward of cyber bullies are just how you would deal with a bully face to face. Ignore them and do not fuel their fire; they are looking to get a rise out of you and by fighting back you are giving them exactly what they want, as previously stated by McKaela Bayne. Education on cyber bullying is important; the more you know the better chance you stand of being able to defend yourself or someone else. Take a stand against cyber bullies, there is zero tolerance.