Bullying has been a problem that has plagued society for generations. However, before the internet, identifying a bully and rectifying the problem was a fairly simple task.  Once the bullying started you could identify the source and eliminate the bullying allowing the victim to move on with their life allowing their scars to heal. This is not so easily the case with cyberbullying.

The face of bullying has changed…. Or disappeared, in the age of the internet. Now, even the most timid bully can launch an attack on an unexpecting victim from the comfort of their home computer and there is a good chance the victim will never know who the offender is. Their hurtful words or actions can continue to haunt a victim for days, weeks or years without ever knowing who launched the attack.

How do you stop an attack when you do not know where it is coming from?!

In the past, the spreading of an attack was limited in scope in that an individual did not have the resources to spread hurtful words or actions across a whole peer group or community easily.  The internet allows an attack be spread to a whole class, school or community with the click of a mouse, and then it could even go viral. Bullying can cause extreme emotional duress when you think only a few people know, let alone hundreds or thousands!

To make things worse, even if the bully is identified and stopped from further bullying, the internet is an elephant that never forgets. What is posted online is there for years.  It can be extremely difficult to clean the web of those hurtful pictures or words, especially if they have gone viral.

How do you heal when everywhere you turn your scars are being torn open?!

The anonymity of cyberbulling and the difficulty to remove hurtful attacks are tearing apart the kids of our friends and family.  Statistics indicate that on average 21% of teens have been bullied online with some studies showing up to 72% with girls being affected just as much as boys [1]. You can bet that several of the kids you encounter each day are dealing with this harsh reality.

It is time we standup for our kids and share the harsh realities about the damage that is created in the wake of cyberbulling.  It is not just typical “bullying.” The internet has created a pipeline that can carry the damaging effects of bullying on for years tearing victims apart leaving them with little chance of hope.

We need to teach our kids to standup to cyberbullying, support the victims they encounter and work tirelessly to end the cycle. It is time we cast aside the notion that “kids will be kids” and we help them reclaim a childhood where they are able to thrive and grow free of harassment.

[1] http://cyberbullying.us/research/facts

–Sam Graham