Cyberbullying is a problem that many young people face. However, cyberbullying isn’t often reported – only one in ten victims will tell a parent or trusted person what is happening.
Scott Kadera, counseling manager at Salt Lake Community College, says that cyberbullying is a form of emotional abuse that can cause or contribute to mental health problems such as depression and self-esteem issues.
Why it can happen
According to Kadera, some cyberbullies may be acting on their own negative experiences.
“Sometimes people just grow up having had bad role models, so they learn that abusive behavior is acceptable,” he explains. “Somebody who’s got some of their own self-esteem issues [may use cyberbulling] to make themselves feel better than somebody else.”
As a college counselor, Kadera says that cyberbullying is “rarely the main issue students come in for. Sometimes when they’re dealing with depression, it will come up as an issue that they’re dealing with.”
Efforts to stop it
The movement to prevent cyberbullying has been gaining momentum for years.
Many teens have committed suicide due to the devastating effects of cyberbullying. Some of these deaths have been the catalyst for foundations such as the Megan Meier Foundation and the Amanda Todd Legacy.
Laws have also been enacted in some states (such as Vermont’s Suicide Prevention Law and the Jessica Logan Act in Ohio) to create consequences for those who choose to contribute to this harmful behavior.
What users can do
Victims can fight back against their bullies, and they do not have to do it alone.
Kadera encourages students to seek professional help if they are experiencing mental health issues from cyberbullying or any type of emotional abuse.
“Having someone to talk to can help counter the negative things you’re hearing,” he adds.
Users can report harassment and other abusive behavior to site administrators.
“Facebook and other sites have rules about that sort of thing,” Kadera says. “Report to the site … to get help.”
Many social media sites also have a block feature that allows someone to stop all contact from another user. Blocking a user will stop most cases of trolling and other harassment.
For extreme cases of online abuse, including threats, victims contact their local law enforcement agency to determine if any action can be taken against the perpetrator.