Cyber bullying, cyber harassment and cyber stalking claim thousands of victims every hour. Victims range from children as young as eight to adults in their eighties and nineties. The web and social networking sites are the most common venue of these cyber crimes. However, perpetrators of these crimes also use cell phones, email, and chat rooms to victimize others.
The definitions of cyber bullying, cyber harassment, and cyber stalking differ by the age of their victims and the degree of cruelty—they are all harmful and should be taken seriously as soon as they are discovered.
- Cyber bullying is a term used for mean, embarrassing, and hurtful emails, pictures, blog or social networking posts about a child or teen. When such posts threaten the child or teen’s physical safety—they are criminal and can be prosecuted.
- Cyber harassment is similar to cyber bullying but the perpetrators and victims are adults. Again, any threat to physical safety is criminal.
- Cyber stalking is similar to, and in some states synonymous with, cyber harassment. Cyber stalkers threaten the victim’s earnings, reputation, and physical safety. They often spread computer viruses and vandalize the victim’s websites and search engines.
- Forty-seven states have laws forbidding cyber stalking and harassment.
- 30 percent of middle school students report being cyber bullied at least once.
- Girls are twice as likely to be cyber victims and cyber perpetrators.
- More than a dozen teen suicides have been linked to cyber bullying in the last five years.
Actions to Take
Parents should take immediate action if their child is a victim of cyber bullying. First contact the school. Second, contact the bully’s parents. Most times parents are unaware that their child is bullying others. Once they become aware, they can put a stop to the behavior. Finally, if the school or the bully’s parents cannot stop the bullying, call the police.