Cyber-Bullying Slows Down

Recently, two media organizations released the results of a new survey showing how pervasive cyber-bullying is among teens and young adults. According to the survey there is now a trend showing that the number of young people who have been cyberbullied has fallen since 2011. In 2011, about 56% of the people interviewed claimed to be victims of cyber-bullying, now it is down to less than 49%.

Although those statistics are a bit encouraging, the act of cyberbullying will by no means stop anytime soon. It comes from anywhere: your email, web site, smartphone, social network site or other technologically driven means. It hides in anonymity and it can lead to death.

We all have heard of cyberbullying. Studies have been done about it trying to come up with various definitions of this misbehavior. That being said the bully can be an 8 year-old or a 78 year old. He or she may not be the geekiest or the strongest. Anyone with the technology that allows for communication can be a cyberbully. Cyberbullying can also occur in a group that works as one to harass the victim.

An example of this is a group of girls who decided to gang up on a certain girl in their school whom they “unfriended.” Then they spread news describing how their “target” hadn’t been invited out of the various events they had partaken.

Cyberbullying can also occur within the business milieu. An example would be someone working in a company who circulates an email about a co-worker who may have had something “funny” happen to him/her. Cyberbullying can lead to complaints and lawsuits from the victims and the victim’s family. A parent can sue the school board complaining that his/her child is being harassed by a schoolmate and the school fails to act to stop this. At the business level, it could be handled by a lawyer seeking compensation or justice for damage done by the cyberbully.  The number of lawsuits emanating from cyberbullying is growing by the day.

In this whole sordid cyberbullying affair, there is the person who simply watches and condones. This is one known as the “bystander”. This person would make it a point not to intervene in a cyberbullying case. His silence makes complicit in cyberbullying. Tolerating the actions of the bully merely gives the bully the impetus to continue and even escalate his/her actions. Whether in a business or school setting, the people involved in the “chain of communication” are aware that a bullying situation is going on and by not stopping, it makes them complicit in the act. Some schools and companies have a policy that punishes people who fail to report the cyberbully. And whether there is or there is not such a policy, it is one’s moral obligation to act on this potentially lethal misconduct. 

There have been a significant number of suicides related to cyberbullying. Some people call this “bullycide.” Unfortunately, “bullycide” occurs too frequently and almost on a daily basis. Some who have committed suicide may have done so not because of the bullying although the bullying was enough to make them finally decide to end their life.  

We hope that the statistics mentioned above continue to slide down. Some deaths caused by cyberbullying are more newsworthy than others simply because the victims were youngsters. We don’t expect bad people to change, so the law must come down hard on those who prey on the weak and the vulnerable. It’s time to take a hard stance against cyberbullying.