No one wants to see their child being bullied. As bullying becomes more and more prevalent in the media, it has become obvious that bullying no longer just takes on the "Steal your lunch money" tactics of past generations.
Cyberbullying is, in many ways, more intense than in-person bullying. Cyberbullying acutely targets a child's insecurities, making the emotional and psychological bruises far more permanent than the traditional punch or swirly. Cyberbullying allows bullies to feel anonymous, freeing them up to say harsher, more pervasive things than they might say in person. Cyberbullies generally face fewer consequences- unlike in a traditional school context, there are no adults monitoring for signs of abuse on a regular basis, so unless a parent, guardian, or school official is tipped off to the problem, it can go unpunished for a substantial amount of time.
The biggest difference between online attacks and the tactics of bullies in the past is that it does not go away. Cyberbullies seem inescapable to victims because the bullies can access them 24/7- at home, in school, anywhere the victim can access the internet from. Many lawmakers are coming up with new ways to punish or prevent cyberbullying, but the most effective thing for parents, guardians, and teachers to handle this trend is to know what to look out for. Here are the ten most often used tactics to watch out for if you suspect someone is bullying your child online.
E-mail Threats- The most aggressive form of cyber-bullying, threats make it explicit that physical or social harm will come to the recipient unless they comply with a bully's demands.
Flaming- When people get into heightened or heated arguments in an online forum, flaming- harassment and profanity taken to an extreme level in public- can occur.
Exclusion- Taking a page out of traditional bullying's book, exclusion depends on ostracizing a child from events going on online. This can take the form of not "inviting" a child into a certain page or chatroom, deleting a person's comments repeatedly so they are not heard, or just deliberately ignoring a child's presence in the online community. When done maliciously, excluding a tween or teen in an online context can lead to them feeling worthless or outside the group.
Outing- Outing is the act of making privately shared information (via emails, pictures, texts, or other communication) public knowledge. For example, if one girl messages another girl regarding a crush, and the recipient then forwards to message to the crush in question or other people who are not privy to the information, that's outing. Outing is especially hurtful when done in the context of sexuality or orientation, because it pushes teens out of the metaphorical closet before they are ready.
Phishing- One of the tactics used to create outing is phishing, or tricking teens into revealing personal information to strangers or friends online through a series of lies or deceptive messages.
Harassment- In terms of cyberbullying, harassment relates to teens repeatedly receiving hurtful personal messages in an online context.
Impersonation (Imping)- Bullying at its most extreme, this is when a bully impersonates the victim online, creating a false profile or pretending to be the victim saying embarrassing, lewd or mean things in order to create a bad image of them online.
Image Dissemination- Used through text or e-mail, this is the passing around of humiliating photos of the victim to everyone he or she knows.
Happy-Slapping- Like image dissemination, this is the publication of images and videos of an unknowing victim online to embarrass them. Several teen suicide cases are linked to Imping and Happy-Slapping.
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