October is Cyberbullying Awareness Month

October is Cyberbullying Awareness Month
By Grace Adams-Square

National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month is a month-long observance to educate and raise awareness about bullying and cyberbullying prevention. Addressing and preventing bullying is something that everyone can do every day (https://www.stopbullying.gov). According to Sameer Hindua and Justin Patchin, authors of School Climate 2.0: Preventing Cyberbullying and Sexting One Classroom at a Time, cyberbullying is defined as willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices. In short, it is bullying using technology.

Students enrolled in MGA Perspectives on Diversity class with Assistant Professor Mrs. Adams-Square addressed the issue of cyberbullying as part of their mid-term research and oral presentations. Here’s what they found:

Students in Perspectives on Diversity Class October 2022; picture taken by student Kayden Vilayvong.

Student Jayson Hodges: Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that takes place online instead of in-person (NIH, 2022). People who experience cyberbullying feel isolated, depressed, stressed, and have other negative emotions. One solution: cyberbullying prevention teams can monitor and permanently ban bullies - this independent group focuses on and investigates content that appears to be cyberbullying.

Student Macy Stephenson: There are social effects to cyberbullying. Although studies highlight students as resilient; those affected by cyberbullying have difficulty maintaining their academics and their friendships.

Student Anna Bish: Provides an example of cyberbullying called "doxxing." Doxxing is best explained as spreading personal information, such as addresses, names, and other information used for identification. It is the most dangerous form of cyberbullying there is because it leads to much more dangerous situations, such as stalking. Bish continues." According to DoSomething.org, “95% of teens in the U.S. are online” and “about 37% of young people between the ages of 12 and 17 have been bullied online.”

Student Mackenzie Hornbaker: There are many students in different schools across the world that have experienced cyberbullying. I think that is sad that people hate other people so much that they bring it to the internet. I did some research on the matter and one thing I learned is that “more girls than boys were cybervictimized (43.1% vs 35.7%)”

Student Patrick Coon: What should teenagers do if they experience cyberbullying? Silence is obviously not an option. The fear of attending school or having their self-esteem damaged by a status would not exist if everyone were taught how to avoid responding to someone online badly. If children become upset, they should be helped to calm down. This is turning off the computer and attempting alternative stress-relieving techniques to cope
without resorting to cursing or making threats to one of their friends online to calm them down.

Student Aiden Kliethermes: Described the effects of cyberbullying: depression, anger., anxiety, humiliation, isolation, powerlessness, low self-esteem, self-harm, drug abuse, and eating disorders. Aiden concludes, considering all the facts presented above, it is crucial to the future of our youth that we strive to end cyberbullying for three reasons: the appalling statistics surrounding cyberbullying and the effects cyberbullying has on our youth’s mental state, while also providing ways to prevent and solve this awful crisis. He adds, there are five steps of what to do when cyberbullying happens which are: notice, talk, document, report, and support.

What can parents do? Use Bark. Bark was created in collaboration with child psychologists, youth advisors, digital media experts, and law enforcement professionals. Bark delivers a research-backed, kid-friendly solution for safeguarding families as technology changes how and where we communicate (Jordan, 2022).

Perspectives on Diversity is an Area B course. Under the direction of Dr. Rod McRae and Dr. Eric Sun, the class is designed for 4 credit hours and includes assessments, oral communication, critical thinking content, and student success assessments. Students are engaged on D2L and in the classroom.