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Bullying that occurs over the Internet – or cyber bullying – is a recent twist on the longstanding problem of bullying. Here are some quick facts to get you acquainted with the subject:

Cyber-bullying fact #1: It’s more than just hate speech

Cyber bullying often involves more than just name-calling via the Internet. It can get quite cunning and manipulative, involving deceptively creative ways to slander a child’s reputation. For example, a cyber bully might set up fake profile pages in the victim’s name using the victim’s real picture, and then post information claiming to be gay or making up other embarrassing stories. Or it can involve placing Internet ads for escort services so that a victim’s cell phone is bombarded with prostitution offers from strangers. Cyberbullying can take many forms, from simple name-calling to organized campaigns against a victim.

Internet Cyber-bullying fact #2: No child is safe

A child does not have to be the member of a social networking site or even be using the Internet in order to be targeted by online bullies. Cyberbullying is most often another dimension that emerges from real-world bullying, and if bullies use the Internet, it doesn’t matter whether your child does or not. They can still be targeted.

Cyber-bullying fact #3: Internet bullying can be especially hurtful

Cyberbullying is often considered to be more harmful than person to person bullying, for a couple of reasons. The first is because of its perceived broader audience. When something hurtful is posted on the Internet, the child often feels as though it’s visible to the whole world, and so it amplifies the shame they feel. The second reason is because of its staying power. Abusive postings are notoriously hard to get rid of, and so it can feel as though the sting lasts indefinitely and never fades away. Some of these fears are exaggerated, but they nonetheless cause very real pain for cyber bullying victims.

Internet Cyber-bullying fact #4: Technology has given bullies broader reach

While some of the concerns about the whole world seeing it are overblown (so and so’s Facebook page is hardly read cover to cover by the whole world), modern technologies have made it much easier for gossip to spread. An unflattering photograph can be sent to dozens of phones around the school in a matter of seconds, and the impersonal nature of the Internet makes it much easier to type up a tirade and click send to distribute it to dozens of people.

Cyber bullying fact #5: Internet harassment is a growing problem

Cyber bullying is bound to become more prevalent as more and more youth conduct more of their social lives in cyberspace. We are only at the beginning of this cyberbullying epidemic.

Cyber bullying fact #6: Cyberbullying has its roots in the real world

Most youth are cyberbullied by peers they know from the real world. However, they may not always know who is behind the postings, since many can be done anonymously.

Cyber bullying fact #7: It’s up to us to keep the Internet civil

Most chat rooms, forums, and social networking sites have policies against cyber bullying or online harassment, yet these rules are seldom enforced. This may be because of disinterest, or because they don’t want to devote resources towards policing every aspect of their website. A crucial step in the fight against cyber bullying is to hold social networking sites accountable to their policies and demand that they take action to keep their sites civil. On the same token, cyber bullying also thrives because other members or onlookers remain silent. Just like the real world, bullies count on others remaining silent to do their deeds. So speak up against cyber bullying whenever you encounter it.

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