Hope Sitwell was a 13-year-old student that sent a compromising picture to her boyfriend while “sexting”, this photo was then distributed to students in at least six different schools in her area. Then students had made a page called the “Hope Halter Page” that was started on Myspace and led to additional cyberbullying. Hope later hanged herself because of it. Hope’s story is one of many cyberbullying cases that end in suicide. Just over four thousand students commit suicide each year because of cyberbullying (Nobullying.com, 2017), this brings to light how much of an issue cyberbullying is for teenagers in this generation.
As we advance into the digital age, technologies such as the internet, social media, cell phones and email allow communication to occur frequently and at an increasingly faster speed (Stauffer, Heath, Coyne, & Ferrin, 2012). “Bulllying has always been around, and, whether it is done in the traditional way or on the internet, approximately two hundred million children worldwide have been subjected to it” (nobullying.com, 2015). As these technologies become more available to us in the classroom, teachers need to look at cyberbullying as a new and real danger to students.
Cyberbullying can take many forms, some of them being:
- Sending horrible or threatening messages to a person online
- Spreading rumours online
- Posting horrible or threatening posts about people on social media platforms
- Hacking into a persons account to acquire damaging information
- Stealing a persons identity with the intent of hurting them
- Taking uncomplimentary photos of another person and posting them on social media platforms
- Spreading compromising pictures or messages of another person online
Cyberbullying has many negative effects, some of them being reduced academic achievement, anxiety, depression (Stauffer et al., 2012) and in some cases even suicide. According to statistics from the i-SAFE foundation over eighty percent of teens use some form of digital communication and over half of these young people have experienced some form of cyberbullying (bullyingstatistics.org, n.d.). The Harford county examiner further reported that only one in ten teens tells an adult if they have been a victim of cyberbullying and less that one in five cyberbullying incidents are reported to the police (bullyingstatistics.org, n.d.). These statistics show that as teachers, we need to address this ever-growing issue.
More than a fifth of ten and eleven year olds said they do not know how to protect themselves against cyberbullying (Maverick Television, 2010). There are a number of resources that teachers can utilise to educate students on the issue of cyberbullying such as beyond blue, Beatbullying and Childnet. This leads to the conclusion that the best way for teachers to combat cyberbullying is to make students aware of the issue and how to protect themselves against it.
Bullyingstatistics.org. (n.d.). Cyber bullying statistics. Retrieved from http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/cyber-bullying-statistics.html
Gilmore, D. (n.d.). Negative effects of cyberbullying [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://crisisofcyberbullying.weebly.com/negative-effects.html
Maverick Television. (2010). Combatting cyberbullying. [Video]. Retrieved from http://search.alexanderstreet.com.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/view/work/1737653
Nobullying.com. (2015). Cyber bullying statistics australia, The Ultimate Guide. Retrieved from https://nobullying.com/cyber-bullying-statistics-australia-the-ultimate-guide/
Nobullying.com. (2017). The top six unforgettable cyberbullying cases ever. Retrieved from https://nobullying.com/six-unforgettable-cyber-bullying-cases/
Reynolds, L. (n.d.). Cyberbullying word cloud. Retrieved from https://laurenreynoldz.wordpress.com/cyberbullying/
Stauffer, S., Heath, M. A., Coyne, S. M., & Ferrin, S. (2012). High school teachers’ perceptions of cyberbullying prevention and intervention strategies. Journal of Psychology in the Schools, 49(4), 352-367. doi:10.1002/pits.21603