Editorial

Online bullies threaten our young people

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Bullies used to simply shake down the weaker kids for lunch money, but these days, the bully business has gone online, and it’s booming.

According to a survey of 5,000 middle school students, 26 percent said they were recent victims of cyberbullying, while 18 percent claimed to be “lifetime” victims of online bullies.

Moreover, according to a recent report commissioned by the National Crime Prevention Council, 81 percent of teens surveyed find cyberbullying funny. Further, recent information on cyberbullying shows that it can lead to depression, anxiety, even suicide.

Bullying is present in all children’s lives, whether they are male or female, teens or younger, bullies or the bullied.

It reigns on the schoolyard, in the classrooms, in the hallways, on sports teams, even on the Internet. Inside and outside of the classroom, kids are coming face to face with a new enemy, one who’s often their age and their size. As parents and educators struggle to reach children who are being bullied, kids often end up dealing with bullies on their own, either through violence or acquiescing to the threatening whims of the bully for fear of being verbally attacked and maligned through social media.

This is an ongoing issue for today’s teens. Parents and educators need to meet this crisis head on and give our kids the tools to deal with bullies. Self-confidence is one of those tools. And kids need to be protected and reassured that it's OK to report bullying to their parents and educators.

It takes two for a conflict. If a child is able to boost their self confidence enough so that the bully’s words no longer have any affect, that could eliminate a lot of the verbal and cyber-bullying that takes place. If the bully fails to have any affect on his victim, he’ll likely stop.

Part of the solution is for parents to be actively involved with their children.

The key is to find a way to open up the lines of communication for kids who are being bullied. It is not easy for children to admit that they are being picked on. Being bullied can lead to loss of interest in activities, even excessive absences from school.

It is up to the adults in our children’s lives to help them find the tools necessary to stand up for themselves and say “stop."