One of the serious issues facing young people today is bullying. Bullying is a form of unprovoked aggression that is often directed at an another individual or group of individuals with the intent to cause embarrassment or pain. It tends to become more sinister as it continues over time and may be better equated to a form of violence. It used to be that you could escape a school or work bully by simply moving locations at the end of the day, but technology has changed this. Bullying can also take place online, called cyberbullying, via an app or online platform like WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or TikTok. So instead of being able to escape bullies, they ride in our pockets, come into our homes and follow us wherever we go in our phones or tablets. For many young people, it can seem as if there is no escape.
Although cyberbullying can happen through text and verbal messages, it can also occur in the viewing or sharing of visual content that is either real or manipulated to seem real. And here is where cyberbullying exhibits its real power: We have all seen or heard about digital posts going viral and inflicting significant damage to personal or corporate reputations, regardless of whether the post is true or not. And once released, the damage is done.
The nature of cyberbullying means that it is easy to be the bully and easy to be bullied. Cyberbullying is much more covert than traditional bullying. As a result, victims aren’t obviously spotted and perpetrators can remain anonymous. This is where cyberbullying exhibits its true power: It is often more intense than traditional bullying since bullies are braver as they hide behind the safety of a screen. In addition to this, they are also completely removed from their victim’s reaction, so they seldom can see the vulnerability of their victim and the harmful reality of their behavior. The seriousness of cyberbullying and its long-term mental, emotional and even physical negative impact means that it cannot be ignored.
So what can you do to take steps to prevent bullying from happening, or if it does happen, to get it stopped?
Here are a few tips from Fuller Youth Institute that may be helpful if you know of instances of bullying or suspect that bullying is taking place:
While digital technology has provided a new channel through which bullies can inflict harm on others, it has not created a completely new problem. Bullying has always been a challenge facing kids and parents. But there is good news. Online bullying activities can be captured and recorded when they are posted. So while some bullies might feel emboldened from behind their screens, it is also easier to stop this type of behavior with solid evidence captured from the screens of the victims.