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Cyber-bullying is for Real

The good ole days of worrying only about the bullies at school are long gone. Kids these days, not only have to worry about the bully that wants their lunch money, but also the bully that wants to ruin their self-esteem, reputation, and even their lives. Cyber bullying is not a fad that's just going to fade away like bell bottom jeans, lava lamps, and jelly shoes. It's a real problem that's hard to control. Cyber bullying is bullying through email, instant messaging, chat room exchanges, Web site posts, or digital messages and images sent to a cellular phone or personal digital assistant (PDA) (Kowalski et al. 2008). Cyber bullying, like traditional bullying, involves an imbalance of power, aggression, and a negative action that is often repeated.

A cyber bully is often hard to punish because they can make up fake names and profiles, or remain anonymous. . Since the cyber bully may never see their intended target, they never have to experience the reactions of the people they bully. The cyber bully is often able to capture a much larger "fan base", whereas the bully down the hall can only have as many "fans" as the amount of people in the school. Also, the bully at school may use taunting words that will fade in time. The cyber bully's words will always be somewhere in cyber space. It's fairly easy to walk away and ignore the bully at school, but the online bully is hard to escape because they can continue to email, text message or even post blogs.

There is very little scientific research on cyber bullying because it is a fairly new trend. But a study conducted in 2005 of 1,500 adolescents discovered that over 35% of those surveyed had been a victim of cyber bullying. In other studies, it was found that cyber bullying is not just occurring in America, it's happening all over the world in places like Japan and Australia.

You may now be asking yourself, why does this happen and what can be done about it? This is happening because there is very little supervision on the internet. It is impossible for parents to watch their children every second they are online. Also, it's easier to type something malicious than it is to say something malicious and see someone's reaction. The internet allows the bully to "hide" from their victim. Unfortunately there is little that can be done to stop a cyber-bully. Law enforcement should be notified as soon as there are threats of death or injury made. Schools can't really do much once again because of the anonymity the internet offers.

Prevention is vital. Schools are trying to prevent cyber bullying during school hours by blocking access web sites such as, Facebook or twitter. They are also trying to control phone usage in places like the locker rooms, restrooms, and many other places on campus. Parents can also help to prevent cyber bullying by supervising their children while online, limiting internet usage, keeping the computer in a family central place such as the family room, and teaching their children empathy for others. Children are often more internet savvy than their parents are and, therefore, parents should try to educate themselves more about the internet. Just like any other kind of bullying, children need to realize how important it is to report it, not just to their parents but also to the senders' internet service provider.