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Bullying: A Problem Face to Face and Online

Teens in the twenty-first century are constantly online, using social media and texting.  With all of this interaction over the internet, there is bound to be some mean or rude comments from time to time. Unfortunately, it can turn into something more; cyberbullying. “Bullying is no longer about the strong picking on the weak. Bullying has been replaced by a 24 hour per day, seven days a week online monster.” Many teens witness cyberbullying, and don’t take any action because they assume the person is just joking. To fix this problem of bullying online, we must first be on the lookout for “mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.” A study by the National Center for Education and Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2013-14 says that 7% of middle and high school students experienced bullying online. Almost one tenth of teens experience cyberbullying, meaning if there is a group of you and ninety-nine of your peers, seven of you are probably being cyberbullied. This is too large of a number, and it is going up every year. “The percentage of the students who said they experienced cyberbullying jumped from 14.6 percent to 21.2 percent over a six-year period ending in 2012, according to the study by the nonprofit Education Development Center.” If we do not stop this from happening, the numbers will keep going up. As many teens do not see cyberbullying as a problem and ignore it when they see it happening, you should use reporting features on social media sites to stop anything that sounds the least bit mean, and stop this from growing into cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying is a very big problem, and it has many effects such as causing mental illness or addiction. Cyberbullied teens are more likely to experience or engage in harmful activities such as using alcohol or drugs, an increased number of health problems, unwillingness to attend school, or having poor grades.

If teens are cyberbullied, the effects can be harmful for their future, causing addiction, or lack of higher education, which can lead to a low-paying job or even homelessness.

Victims of cyberbullying are almost twice as likely to have attempted suicides compared with adolescents who were not the target of online attacks.” As the number of teens being cyberbullied is going up, more and more adolescents will have some sort of mental illness including anxiety or depression.

Though there aren’t many prominent companies fighting this issue, federal, county, and state governments in the U.S. have several laws against bullying and harassment online. Many schools can use reports of cyberbullying from students respond to the situation and prevent future cases of cyberbullying. They can do this by showing that cyberbullying is not okay and can cause consequences. According to the website stop bullying, “in  many states, schools are required to address cyberbullying in their anti-bullying policy. Some state laws also cover off-campus behavior that creates a hostile school environment.” These laws can only help if students report the bullying.  Once it is reported, schools will take action against it and prevent future situations like this.

Cyberbullying could affect anyone, including your friends or peers. Many social media sites, such as Twitter, have ways to report users or comments if they post anything offensive. “If you see someone being abused online, don’t look the other way. While it can be tempting to retaliate against the abuser with hurtful words, this is usually what they want you to do. Instead, reach out to your friend or family member with positive words to remove the attention from the abuser. When an account is particularly harassing or threatening, tell us about it by reporting the account or Tweets to us. It will take a few steps, and your report will help us make Twitter a better place.” When you retaliate or even try to defend the person who is being bullied, the situation only gets worse. When being bullied or harassed online, what is best to do is “keep evidence of cyberbullying. Record the dates, times, and descriptions of instances when cyberbullying has occurred. Save and print screenshots, emails, and text messages. Use this evidence to report cyberbullying to web and cell phone service providers.”

One reason it is so hard to ignore cyberbullying, is because, when asked, over half of teens say that they scroll through social media daily, sometimes even hourly, to see if their posts are getting likes and comments from their peers. We are constantly being exposed to comments between friends that are joking, and do not realize when the comments are going too far. During the frequent checks, many teens and students witness cyberbullying, including us. Our friends may be the victim of bullying online. If we want to stop this, and spread kindness, we need to notice even the smallest comments, as they might mean a great deal to someone and impact their self esteem greatly.

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Nora Fairbanks
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She sings and plays soccer, and is training for a half marathon. On a typical day you can find her doing homework, reblogging on tumblr, reading, or photographing things. You can follow her on Tumblr @itsjustmenora and on Twitter @itsjustme_nora.

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