Cyber Bullying In The USA: How It Looks Like

Today the Internet penetrated in almost every sphere of our lives. We learn, we work and have fun online. The Internet as any revolutionary invention has brought solutions to many problems as well as caused some. Anonymity on the Internet opened the doors to be who you really are, as you are not afraid to be identified. On the other hand, anonymity created the monster of impunity. We have faced the appearance of viruses that can ruin the work of millions of people. We have also faced problems that are even more severe, like that of cyberbullying.

Tons of teenagers are being cyberbullied this very moment. A place that was supposed to bring people closer now brings them apart. To make things worse, those who cyberbullies do not even realize the damage they cause. The victims feel no different than from traditional bullying.

Being a teenager myself, I have decided to have an insight into the issue of bullying on the Internet. I have aimed at investigating the main reasons of cyber bullying and the possible ways to stop it. Who should we blame for it and is there anything we can do?

I focused on the USA and investigated the incidents of cyber bullying in this country. Despite the fact that this is a worldwide problem, the USA has documented the higher percentage of such incidents. I will provide a deeper analysis of cyber bullying matters in the main body and dwell upon the shocking truth behind this problem.

The USA states are aware of the dire situation caused by cyber bullying. For this reason, there have been imposed some laws regarding the issue. However, the anonymity still stops this problem from being absolutely solved. Lots of people with hidden identity keep on bullying and get away with it. So the question is ‘Can cyber bullying stop and what can we do to stop it?’

I will examine the overall situation in my cyber bullying essay. In this paper, I will define the concept and provide the statistical data of incidents. Plus, I will do an in-depth analysis to see who is to blame for. Through my investigation I aim at finding a firm conclusion whether a cyber bullying can be stopped.

Cyber Bullying By Definition

We are all familiar with the definition of bullying that is the act of threatening, intimidating, abusing, humiliating and aggressively dominating over the others. Cyber bullying is the act of using cell phones or the Internet to humiliate, threaten, intimidate, abuse or aggressively dominate over the person (usually a child or a teenager). Cyber bullying is performed through constant texting, sending e-mails or using any other digital technology. A victim of cyber bullying can be also ridiculed at forums or face the situation when their personal data is uploaded on the Internet. Usually, this is the data that humiliates and intimidates the victim. Statistically, in the majority of cases cyber bullies threaten and call a victim mean names.

Who Is A Cyber Bully?

A cyber bully is a tormentor or a group of tormentors seeking satisfaction in threatening and humiliating others. The statistics shows that the big percentage of cyber bullying is performed in groups. In such a way the members of the group feel safe and strong. As the saying goes, birds of a feather flock together. However, the research also showed that the bullies themselves are often more susceptible to depression and anxiety than their victims. What is more, cyber bullies can be the victims of cyber bullying too. That is why becoming the bullies themselves serves as a protective mechanism.

The reason why people become cyber bullies is the desire to have power. These people want to have power over the others. While humiliating others, they feel their domination and get satisfaction from subjugating people.

Consequences Of Cyber Bullying

The problem of cyber bullying is really getting out of hand, as many cannot even realize how dangerous it can be. The victims of cyber bullying can face deep depression that can even lead to suicide. People are not aware of all the danger the Internet can bring. For those who are not ready to the ugly ‘face’ of the Internet this problem can become vital.

Victims are hurt. To make things even worse, victims of cyber bullying often keep silent and do not tell anybody about the threats and humiliation. Those victims start feeling lonely and unprotected. There appeared the fear to go to school, the fear of leaving their home and fear of not being able to defend themselves. Teenagers who are the victims of cyber bullying often start falling behind the class, skip classes, and become paranoid and difficult to communicate with. Depression and helplessness become main symptoms of cyber bullying. I call them symptoms, as I believe cyber bullying is turning into a ‘disease’. Cyber bullying is not only threatening the lives of people it really causes damage and in some cases even suicide, so the question is still left ‘What can we do to stop it?’

What To Do If You Are Cyber Bullied?

In the USA there is a great amount of cyber bullying incidents reported. Tons of children and teenagers suffer from it in different states. If you face cyber bullying, the first and the best thing to do is to ignore the tormentor. Just do not take them seriously and if they are from your school, ignore them there too. Remember that these people are looking for victims. If you do not fall for their tricks and just ignore them, bullies will leave you alone. In case you feel like bullying is hurting you, do not hesitate to tell about it to your parents or counselor. They will definitely help you.

Is Cyber Bullying A Big Issue?

Opinions truly differ. The majority of adults take the problem of cyber bullying quite seriously, raising its importance to the governmental level. However, most adolescents believe that there is nothing to worry about, as bullying has existed for many years. A person should just learn how to protect themselves from that.

Personally, I believe that cyber bullying is quite an issue to be taken care of. As long as it affects people’s lives leading to deep depression, anxiety and suicide, we should do something about. The Internet is a place full of dangers, but for bullying. That is why people should be educated on how not to be deceived online. Plus, we should teach both children and adults how to avoid being mocked and laughed at. If a person understands that the things a bully says are not serious, they will just ignore them. Cyber bullying is a big issue, not the biggest one, but still. For this reason, we should take actions to protect people from humiliation, harassment and aggression on the Internet.

Proof Of The Significance

To prove the significance of the problem, let us take a look at two examples of cyber bullying. The first incident happened in Missouri in 2008. It was a real shock to Americans, when 13-year old girl, Megan Meier, committed suicide in her room. As it was later revealed she had been cyber bullied by a group of people. Megan was a victim to cruel bullying and humiliation. Lori Drews, the father of Megan’s friend, and an 18-year old officer who worked for Mr. Drews came up with an idea: a young officer launched relationships online with Megan on Myspace, pretending he was new in town. The officer kept on communicating and connecting with Megan until she really believed in their relationships. When the hoax was revealed and Megan found out that she had been mocked, she just did not have enough mental strength to deal with it. She decided to commit a suicide. After this incident Missouri imposed laws against cyber bullying.

Another incident took place in Massachusetts. A 15-year old girl, Phoebe Prince, was an Irish immigrant. She was severely harassed at school, online and over her phone. It hurt that much that Phoebe decided to take her life.

A survey in 2008 showed that 43% of 2,000 middle-school students were the victims of cyber bullying. The situations were different but all of them can relate to cyber intimidation, harassment and threatening:

  • 18,1 % of students received emails that made them upset

  • 15,8 % of students received messages that upset them

  • 14,1 % of students were the victims of humiliating information posted on Myspace

In 2009 the statistics only became worse. According to a Survey of AM/MTV among 1,247 adolescents, 50 % of youngsters aged 14-24 in this group were the victims of digitally abusive behavior. 45% of people in this group confirmed that they witnessed aggressive behavior online.

Cyber Bullying Versus Traditional Bullying

In comparison with traditional physical bullying digital abusive behavior hurts more. The destructive force of cyber bullying is more intense, as it can reach a person wherever they are and whenever it is wanted. Moreover, anyone can be a bully online. That is why there is an increasing number of bullies on the Internet. A person does not need to be strong, or big, or popular. What is more, often those who were bullied once turn into even worse bullies themselves. Words truly hurt and now imagine that cyber bullies can reach enormous audience wherever they want. And the worst part is that you cannot identify a tormentor. In case of traditional bullying, a child can ask for help and tell who is oppressing them, while the Internet allows the bullies to stay unidentified.

Laws Against Cyber Bullying

As the problem of cyber bullying is becoming more severe, states take actions to pass legislation on cyber bullying. There are tons of fake profiles and profiles with hidden identities. For this reason, it is difficult to regulate the issue. In Texas and Georgia, for instance, there exist laws that deal with hidden and fake identities on the Internet.

In the following states there has been introduced the legislation dealing with cyber bullying: New York, Missouri, Rhode Island, Maryland etc. The laws imposed in these states aim at protecting people from cyber bullying, including bullying from computers, text messages and other electronic devices.

January 1 of 2009, the law dealing directly with cyber bullying took place in California. The law deals with bullying through electronic communication.

In Arkansas in 2007, there was imposed the law allowing school officials to control and deal with cyber bullying. It did not matter whether the bullying was performed on school property or not. This law gave the right to punish the people who were the bullies.

In Iowa, there were imposed several laws regarding anti-cyber bullying policies. While in Idaho in 2006, the law was passed that allowed school officials to suspend students who were bullying others using a computer, a cell phone or other electronic devices.

One of the strictest states dealing with cyber bullying is Vermont. For example, if you offend people on the Internet, you have to pay the fine of 500 dollars.

What Schools Do Against Cyber Bullying

Schools in the USA are adopting anti-cyber policies. They limit the range of websites where students can become the victims of cyber bullying. In addition to that, schools imposed the anti-cyber bullying rules and policies to regulate the issue. School officials monitor students’ use of computers at school to track any incidents of digital bullying. It is also really important that tutors teach students about the Internet behavior, the dangers of cyber bullying and the ways to protect themselves from it.

Who Is To Blame?

Still, it is difficult to stop cyber bullying, as we cannot track bullies who act under fake profiles and hidden identities. The Internet anonymity makes it easy for anybody to become a cyber bully torturing tons of people. To make things even worse, violence is promoted by our society in video games and movies. For this reason, children treat violence as a norm. While teachers try to educate students about cyber bullying, parents often do not have the slightest idea about what is going on. Moreover, as teenagers do not often speak to their parents, the problem only aggravates. I believe that society should care more about the cyber bullying issues, as we are responsible for what is happening on the Internet right now.

Conclusion

It is clear that the Internet and electronic devices play crucial role in our lives today. Unfortunately, the positive aspects of the Internet have been poisoned by the violent deeds online. Cyber bullying has to stop. People should get practical advice on how to avoid digital abuse and how to prevent it. Schools should educate their students on the importance of netiquette and prepare them for dangers they can face online.

Cyber bullying is only increasing and people cannot hide from it anywhere. Children, teenagers and adults suffer from digital aggression, humiliation, harassment and tormenting. Even though, our society takes actions to stop cyber bullying, the real results are far to be seen. Still, we should not stop dealing with the problem, as it affects lives of many.

Suicides caused by cyber bullying take place all over the USA. This cyber bullying essay aimed at analyzing the significance of cyber bullying and answering the question whether we can stop it. As the research showed, now it is impossible to stop digital bullying completely, but we can decrease the problem by protecting and educating children.

People keep on creating fake profiles and there is no legislation that can control anonymity on the Internet. We have nothing to stop anonymous bullies, but we can teach the victims how to protect themselves.

Parents and schools should talk to children. They need to help children to become immune to the violence on the Internet. As long as we have not found the solution to find and punish cyber bullies, we should at least protect ourselves from them. People with strong personality are less susceptible to bullying, so let us help children to be strong and stay strong even when cyber bullied.

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