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Preventing Cyberbullying on Social Networks

Instructor: Millicent Kelly

Millicent has been teaching at the university level since 2004. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and a Master's degree in Human Resources.

The popularity of social media and online interaction has given rise to a new form of bullying known as cyberbullying. This lesson will define cyberbullying and discuss how this type of bullying can be prevented on social networks.

Rebecca Sedwick: A Tragic Example of the Effects of Cyberbullying

Beginning in December 2012, a middle school student named Rebecca Sedwick was relentlessly bullied on social media by as many as 15 of her fellow students. Rebecca was ridiculed and threatened on a major social media site for more than a year. In the end, the cyberbullying became too much for Rebecca to bear and she took her own life by jumping from a concrete silo tower. Rebecca was just 12 years old.

What is Cyberbullying?

One unintended consequence of the popularity of social media is that stories like Rebecca's are becoming more common. Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that occurs using communications technology like computers and cell phones. It can take the form of text messages, social media posts, chat, posts on other websites or apps, or emails. Cyberbullying differs from other forms of bullying because it can take place anytime and anyplace, it can be anonymous, and it can reach many people at the same time. In addition, its effects can be long-lasting because of the difficulty of erasing information online.

Effects of Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying can have long-lasting impacts on its intended victims. Kids who are cyberbullied are more likely than their peers to:

  • Do poorly in school;
  • Skip school;
  • Develop poor self-esteem;
  • Develop mental health problems;
  • Develop dependency on alcohol or drugs; and/or
  • Consider, attempt or commit suicide.

Prevalence of Cyberbullying

According to the School Crime Supplement, a publication released by the US National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics, 7% of American students in grades 6-12 reported cyberbullying in the 2013-2014 school year. Another survey conducted in 2013 found that 15% of students in grades 9-12 reported being cyberbullied during that school year.

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