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Turleys Argumentative Essay: Cyberbullying

Brandon Turley didn’t have friends in sixth grade. He would often eat alone at lunch, having recently switched to his school without knowing anyone. While browsing Myspace one day, he saw that someone from school had posted a bulletin — a message visible to multiple people — declaring that Turley was a “fag. ” Students he had never even spoken with wrote on it, too, saying they agreed. Feeling confused and upset, Turley wrote in the comments, too, asking why his classmates would say that.

The response was even worse: He was told on Myspace that a group of 12 kids wanted to beat him up, that he should stop going to school and die. On his walk from his locker to the school office to report what was happening, students yelled things like “fag” and “fatty. ” “It was just crazy, and such a shock to my self-esteem that people didn’t like me without even knowing me,” said Turley, now 18 and a senior in high school in Oregon. “I didn’t understand how that could be. ” (Landau, 1) What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying occurs when a child or teen uses the Internet, emails, text messages, instant messaging, social media websites, online forums, chat rooms, or other digital technology to harass, threaten, or humiliate another child or teen. Unlike traditional bullying, cyberbullying doesn’t require physical strength or face-to-face contact Darrett2 and isn’t limited to just a handful of witnesses at a time. Cyberbullies come in all shapes and sizes—almost anyone with an Internet connection or mobile phone can cyberbully someone else, often without having to reveal their true identity.

Cyberbullies can torment their victims 24 hours a day and the bullying can follow the victim anywhere so that no place, not even home, ever feels safe, and with a few clicks the humiliation can be witnessed by hundreds or even thousands of people online. (Robinson, L. and Segal, J. , 1) Cyberbullying can happen anywhere at any time, even in places where you normally feel safe, such as your home, and at times you’d least expect, such as at the weekend in the company of your family. It can seem like there’s no escape from the taunting and humiliation.

A lot of cyberbullying can be done anonymously, so you may not be sure who is targeting you. This can make you feel even more threatened and can embolden bullies, as they believe online anonymity means they’re less likely to get caught. Since cyberbullies can’t see your reaction, they will often go much further in their harassment or ridicule than they would do face-to-face with you. Cyberbullying can be witnessed by potentially thousands of people. Emails can be forwarded to hundreds of people while social media posts or website comments can often be seen by anyone.

The more far-reaching the bullying, the more humiliating it can become (Robinson & Segal, 1). Thousands of children and young adults experience cyberbullying every day. Sometimes cyberbullying can be easy to spot — for example, if your child shows you a text, tweet, or response to a status update on Facebook that is harsh, mean, or cruel. Other acts are less obvious, like impersonating a victim online or posting personal information, photos, or videos designed to hurt or embarrass another person.

Some kids report that a fake account, webpage, or online persona has been created with the sole intention to harass and bully. Cyberbullying also can Darrett3 happen accidentally. The impersonal nature of text messages, IMs, and emails make it very hard to detect the sender’s tone — one person’s joke could be another’s hurtful insult. Nevertheless, a repeated pattern of emails, texts, and online posts is rarely accidental. Because many kids are reluctant to report being bullied, even to their parents, it’s impossible to know just how many are affected.

But recent studies about cyberbullying rates have found that about 1 in 4 teens have been the victims of cyberbullying, and about 1 in 6 admit to having cyberbullied someone (Hirsch, 3). Bullying, no matter whether it is traditional bullying or cyberbullying, causes significant emotional and psychological distress (Gordon, 1). A recent study in the journal JAMA Psychiatry suggests that both victims and perpetrators of bullying can feel long-lasting psychological effects (Landau, 1). In fact, just like any other victim of bullying, cyberbullied kids experience anxiety, fear, depression and low self-esteem.

They also may experience physical symptoms and struggle academically. But targets of cyberbullying also experience some unique consequences and negative feelings (Gordon, 1). Bullying victims showed greater likelihood of agoraphobia, where people don’t feel safe in public places, along with generalized anxiety and panic disorder. Cyberbullying increases the risk of suicide. Kids that are constantly tormented by peers through text messages, instant messaging, social media and other outlets, often begin to feel hopeless.

They may even begin to feel like the only way to escape the pain is through suicide. They may fantasize about ending their life in order to escape their tormentors (Gordon, 1). People who were both victims and bullies were at higher risk for young adult depression, panic disorder, agoraphobia among females, and the likelihood of suicide among males. Those who were only bullies showed a risk of antisocial personality disorder.

Those who said they were cyberbullied were also most likely to say they had considered suicide — 28%, Darrett4 ompared to 22% who were physically bullied and 26% who received bullying text messages. (Landau, 1) Cyberbullying often attacks victims where they are most vulnerable. As a result, targets of cyberbullying often begin to doubt their worth and value. They may respond to these feelings by harming themselves in some way. For instance, if a girl is called fat, she may begin a crash diet with the belief that if she alters how she looks then the bullying will stop. Other times victims will try to change something about their appearance or attitude in order to avoid additional cyberbullying (Gordon, 1).

It can also affect the person academically because their lack of confidence will prevent them from contributing and asking questions in class,” Louis Cobb, 2007. It has been reported that approximately 61% or more of the teenagers have a social network site and much of the cyber bulling occurs totally off-campus as sites such as MySpace. com, Xanga. com, or Facebook. com; and with no adult supervision or control (Will & Clayburn, 1). Here are the top things you and your child should do when your teen is confronted with cyberbullying.

Instruct your child that the best way to deal with cyberbullying is to ignore the posts, comments, texts and calls. Although it is hard to refrain from responding to something untrue, it is better to stop and report the incident to a parent or trusted adult instead. Stress to your children that no matter how much the words hurt them, they should not post a response. Cyberbullies are looking for a reaction. Be sure your kids know not to give them one. The issue is more likely to fade away if there is no response from the target. Remember, responding only allows situation to escalate.

Save all messages, comments and posts as evidence. This includes emails, blog posts, social media posts, tweets, text messages and so on. Although your child’s first reaction may be to delete everything, remind him that without evidence you have no proof Darrett5 of the cyberbullying (Gordon, 1). In addition to the above steps, we recommend that schools fight fire with fire. An effective cyberbullying prevention strategy is to use anonymous reporting. Students usually know who’s doing what to whom; the problem is that they won’t come out and tell you.

Adolescents, with their brains not fully developed, often can’t stop themselves from doing harmful things or bragging about what they have done (Howard, 2). Let your child know that it’s not his or her fault, and that bullying says more about the bully than the victim. Praise your child for doing the right thing by talking to you about it. Remind your child that he or she isn’t alone — a lot of people get bullied at some point. Reassure your child that you will figure out what to do about it together. Let someone at school (the principal, school nurse, or a counselor or teacher) know about the situation.

Many schools, school districts, and after-school clubs have protocols for responding to cyberbullying; these vary by district and state. But before reporting the problem, let your child know that you plan to do so, so that you can work out a plan that makes you both feel comfortable (Hirsch, 3). Finding out that your kid is the one who is behaving badly can be upsetting and heartbreaking. It’s important to address the problem head on and not wait for it to go away. Talk to your child firmly about his or her actions and explain the negative impact it has on others.

Joking and teasing might seem harmless to one person, but it can be hurtful to another. Bullying — in any form — is unacceptable; there can be serious (and sometimes permanent) consequences at home, school, and in the community if it continues. Remind your child that the use of cellphones and computers is a privilege. Sometimes it helps to restrict the use of these devices until behavior improves. If you feel your child should have a cellphone for safety reasons, make sure it is a phone that can be used only for emergencies.

Set strict parental controls on all devices. To get to the heart of the matter, talking to teachers, guidance counselors, Darrett6 and other school officials can help identify situations that lead a kid to bully others. If your child has trouble managing anger, talk to a therapist about helping your son or daughter learn to cope with anger, hurt, frustration, and other strong emotions in a healthy way. Professional counseling also can help improve kids’ confidence and social skills, which in turn can reduce the risk of bullying.

And don’t forget to set a good example yourself — model good online habits to help your kids understand the benefits and the dangers of life in the digital world (Hirsch, 3). With the continuous addition of new forms of social media, it’s getting harder and harder to prevent cyberbullying. Apps and sites such as Instagram, Snapchat, ask. fm and Spillit give students a number of ways to launch anonymous attacks on their school mates. More than ever, we need new strategies to address and prevent cyberbullying in today’s hyperconnected world.

Bystanders, witnesses and those who know who’s doing what are often fearful of coming forward face to face. But making an anonymous report is different and can often be a pathway to successful resolution. When investigating incidents of cyberbullying, appeal to the school community, the specific grade level, or group of students involved for information on the culprits. Ask students to make an anonymous report to your Cyberbully Hotline with any information that could be used to stop the harassment. When the bad actors begin to realize that everyone around them has the means to report anonymously, bad behavior begins to cease (Howard, 2).

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