In the age of social media, perhaps the most important advice anyone should keep in mind is to think before you click.
Too many people think that whatever they do on the internet stays on the internet. The perception of anonymity provided by the world wide web emboldens users to express their every emotion or thought.
In reality, the digital landscape is not inextricable from real life. There are consequences to behaviors and actions made online. These consequences cross over and affect real life.
The Prevalence of Cyberbullying
Everyone who has spent some time on the internet has likely encountered a cyberbully.
Cyberbullying is the term used when someone is harassed by someone through electronic means of communication, particularly the internet. Children who spend hours of their day on social media are vulnerable to it. Across the United States, about 37 percent of all students between the ages of 12 and 17 have been victims of cyberbullying. To about 30 percent of them, the harassment happened more than once.
Girls are more likely to become victims of cyberbullying compared to boys. About 15 percent of teenage girls have been a target of at least four kinds of online harassment. In comparison, only 6 percent of teenage boys had experienced the same.
Worse, the majority of the victims do not open up about the abuse. Only one in 10 victims of cyberbullying tell their parents or another trusted adult about the situation.
Being exposed to cyberbullying can cause psychological distress. The victim may feel scared and anxious. They may develop low self-esteem. They may also have behavioral issues or become unable to participate in school activities, resulting in absenteeism and bad grades.
Victims of cyberbullying also show signs of depression, including loneliness, insecurity, and feeling of not belonging or being rejected by their peers. In some cases, the person may harm themselves or have suicidal thoughts.
Can You Sue?
Cyberbullying is a serious problem, and it is one that mostly affects young people. Although anyone can be a target of online harassment, children and teenagers are most vulnerable to it. And, becoming a victim of cyberbullying can have lasting impacts on mental health.
People who have been targeted by cyberbullies naturally want to hold the perpetrators accountable.
The victim, or their parents, can stop online harassment with the help of the law. They need to first speak to a lawyer and ask for advice, but there is a possibility that the victim can bring a legal claim under personal injury law.
In society, every person has a general duty to allow others to go about their day without harm or interference. Cyberbullying is a violation of that.
Moreover, the victim suffers because of online harassment. They might have gone through physical illness because of it, or they had to get counseling for mental health issues resulting from the experience.
It is also illegal in the majority of the country to inflict physical and psychological harm against another person. Some laws address bullying in 49 states, and almost all of them include cyberbullying. Most, however, only require school sanctions, not criminal penalties.
Either way, the victim will have to gather evidence to present a lawyer. They can use social media capture tools to gather evidence of online harassment.
Other Ways to Stop Cyberbullying
There are other ways to address cyberbullying, especially if the victim is a minor. Children who are experiencing online harassment should first tell their parents or a trusted teacher. Victims do not often share the experience because of fear or shame. They hesitate because they are afraid of retribution if the bully finds out that they told an adult. This alone will not stop the cyberbullying, but the child will feel safer knowing they have an ally.
Victims should also refrain from responding. A cyberbully only feels more empowered when they know that they have gotten into their target’s skin. Block the cyberbully across all social media platforms, email, or phone.
If there are threats of violence, take screenshots of messages and print them out. Report it to law enforcement.
Cyberbullying has become so prevalent that it affects the lives of so many people around the world. It should not be an accepted part of being online. People, especially young generations, should use and explore the internet without fear of harassment. But, victims of cyberbullying do not have to experience it or tolerate it on their own. They can take action against the perpetrator and, once and for all, stop the harassment they experience online.