Sending mean, vulgar, offending texts, emails, phone calls, facebook/twitter messages, or any other “social media” communications can have severe consequences on people’s self esteem. This so-called “cyber bullying” has recently been the impetus for a number of young individuals’ suicides.
It’s common knowledge that young adults and children are the most common victims and perpetrators. Not surprisingly, children who are overweight, homosexual, or have disabilities are the most frequent victims. Many cyber bullies were once victims of bullying themselves. Not surprisingly, cyber bullying has become so pervasive because of its anonymous nature and its “virtual” habitat which allows it to be done anywhere. While 10 years ago the bullying took place on the playground, today, bully takes place in what use to be your safe space, your own home.
It is important for therapists working with children and young adults to be aware of both potential victims and perpetrators of cyber bullying. In some states, cyber bulling may be considered a crime (much like child abuse) and a therapist might be held liable if they did not report it. A child doesn’t always feel they have a safe person to talk to or maybe they are embarrassed to tell their parents or teacher. But just maybe, they would confide in their therapist. Providing your students/clients with the opportunity to talk about things in their lives, and keeping your eyes and ears open without judgment just might provide that one child an opening to approach you about the bullying.
While the following link is meant for parents, it is very useful in determining if a young child is a victim of cyber bullying or may be a cyber bully themselves. Parents, teachers, coaches, and anyone who works with children can play an important role in stopping cyber bullying. There is no excuse.