Most of us know what it feels like to be the outcast; the disappointment of feeling left out or excluded. Being the last one picked for the team, or teased for being different. Well in today's young society, cyberbullying is becoming a problem for young people and making them feel even more ostracised and excluded. This negative trend affects nearly half of young people ages 10-24. Girls are the victims of this disgraceful behaviour nearly twice as often as boys are with sometimes tragic effects. The rise in teen suicide has been linked to cyberbullying now more than ever before.
Bullying on the Internet is the next step in the evolution of the schoolyard bully. He/she still strives to intimidate, threaten and demean his/her victims, only using the technology of the present to achieve his/her goals. Tools that are used are: text messaging, email and other social networks to promote smear campaigns against his/her intended victim, and will enlist the help of other mean girls and boys to join forces again the object of the smear. This could stem from an imagined slight, being excluded from a team sport; jealousy or animosity against a classmate or teammate. Whatever the basis for it is, these smear campaigns can be hurtful and even harmful to the victim.
The culprit is often difficult to identify, and as with other forms of bullying, there is a shame and embarrassment factor that keeps victims from informing authorities about the situation. Parents and school officials are often unaware that one of their young people are the victims of such behaviour; only that there are negative changes happening. They may observe failing grades, inattentiveness, mood changes, or a gradual isolation of the victim.
Once the parent or teacher is made aware of the situation, they should take immediate steps to put a stop to the situation. It is possible to block the offender from access to his/her victims in a methodical and effective manner. Report abuse to social networks and email carriers as any form of child harassment violates all user agreements. Steps can be taken to ban these aggressors from social networks, block access to the child's phone, text messaging and email. Cyberbullies are usually clever enough to have multiple accounts, so care must be taken to identify and block all user names and screen personas belonging to this form of behavior. It may be necessary to notify law enforcement should the cyberbullying become a physical threat to your young person. Do not risk your child's safety by taking this problem too lightly. This is a serious matter that must be dealt with sternly and with zero tolerance.