Technology is an important part of life today, but it can be abused in dangerous ways. One of these is cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying, according to the Cyber Bullying Research Center, is when a person repeatedly harasses another person through electronic devices. This also includes sexting, sending revealing images of a person.
Karen Slovak, associate professor of social work, gave a presentation on cyberbullying on October 12.
Cyberbullying is an issue affecting middle school and high school students that is relevant to future ministry leaders, educators, social workers and future aunts, uncles, and parents who could come in contact with students engaging in cyberbullying.
“Many cyberbullying cases occur in middle school and high school, and may sometimes carry over into college,” Slovak said.
Demographics from the presentation said as of 2010 20.8 percent of 10-18 year olds in a large school district had been victims of cyberbullying. Technology advancements and growth in teen interest in the Internet can explain the change in numbers in cyberbullying.
Slovak also said anonymity can increase a person’s boldness when communicating online.
Attendants of the presentation related to having an experience with saying something online that they would never say in person.
This issue applies to many future educators and ministry leaders who might encounter this in their future work. Junior social work major, Karen Cummings testified to this being a leader in a youth group where girls ages 10-17 years encountered some sort of cyberbullying.
“[Cyberbullying] is the newest generation of bullying. Even if we aren’t directly affected by it, our kids, nieces, nephews, and cousins will be affected by it.”
Cyberbullying can also include “sexting” or sexual predators online. In 2009, according to Slovak, 90,000 sex predators were taken off of MySpace and over 5,000 off of Facebook in the same year.
According to ConnectArmarillo.com, 37% of young adults (ages 18-24) have experienced sexting, either by participation or reception.
What can we do about cyberbullying?
As future teachers, youth ministers, parents, aunts, or uncles, awareness of how to defend cyberbullied victims is key.
“Kids need to be taught that it’s okay to tell someone [about being bullied]. Youth can be empowered to take measures to report bullying,” Slovak said.
Simply taking action is the key to seeing significant resolutions to this social issue.
Jaynie Cooper is a contributing writer for The Aviso AVW.