Digital Lifeskills:

Stop Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying with Tim and Moby (4:03):  Transcript

Don't Suffer in Silence: Victim of cyber bullying
on handling online harassmment

Cyberbullying:  It Affects Many
Its Wrong and Its Against The Law

The Pew Research Center reports nearly half of U.S. teens have been bullied or harassed online (2022) with physical appearance being seen as a relatively common reason why. Older teen girls are especially likely to report being targeted by online abuse overall and because of their appearance. 

Bullying has long been a problem among youth and in schools - a problem that is increasingly being taken very seriously.  Unfortunately, kids don't always play nicely together.  This is true in real and virtual communities.

But technologies have created new ways for anti-social or angry people to hurt others.  Physical bullies are usually known by their victims - in fact, this recognition and intimidation is why some physically bully others. 

The Internet creates a more anonymous environment where electronic (or cyber) bullies can hide their identities via temporary email accounts, pseudonyms in chat rooms, instant messaging programs, cell-phone text messaging, and more.  It appears that this anonymous environment prevents some people from thinking about responsibility for what they do and how they affect others.

The problem isn't helped by the fact that many youths know more about computers and cellular phones than their parents or guardians (or they believe they do).  This means some access technologies with no concern that an adult will discover the way they use cell phones and the Internet to abuse others.  This also mean that victims of cyberbullying may not believe they can talk to others about it.

Cell phones, because they are personal devises that we carry with us, are sometimes a favorite tool of cyberbullies.  There are good reasons to keep a cell phone near, turned on so that others can reach us, but this also means cyberbullies can make harassing telephone calls or threatening and insulting statements via text messages.

Cyberbullying, like physical bullying, can have serious effects on victims.  These effects include lower self-esteem, increased suicidal ideation, and a variety of emotional responses including cyber-bullying back, being scared, frustrated, angry, and depressed.  Cyber-bullying can be so damaging that victims have committed suicide.

This is a national problem - at last count, 44 states had laws regarding bullying, and 30 of these included some mention of electronic forms of harassment (cyberbullying).   In Wisconsin, there is a bullying law and separate statutes covering phones and other electronic communications.

It is a misdemeanor, in Wisconsin, to threaten to “inflict injury or personal harm” through the use of e-mail or another computerized communication system.  It is against the law, in Wisconsin, to harass, annoy, or otherwise offend another person electronically.

Increasingly, youths have access to communication and Internet technologies, this is good.  This increased access demands that families and schools educate youths that we are each responsible for how we use communication and Web-based technologies. 

Cyberbullying - it hurts people.  It is wrong.  It is against the law.  It is time we talked about bullying and the special ways some abuse technologies to hurt others.

Our goal, with this Website, is to create a dialog across the many youths Club TNT and Today Not Tomorrow serves.  Like the rest of the Club TNT resources, our reach goes far beyond the greater Madison area.  We want to join the many other voices in promoting safe Internet usage.  It is time for everyone to get the word out - Stop Cyberbullies!