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The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) said cyberbullying is equally to blame in the tragic death of the Rutgers University student who committed suicide on Wednesday.
Teens’ lives today exist in a variety of places such as school hallways, part-time jobs, and friends’ houses. Now many teens also have lives on the Internet. And bullying has followed teens online.
Online bullying, called cyberbullying, happens when teens use the Internet, cell phones, or other devices to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person. Cyberbullying is a problem that affects almost half of all American teens.
Some youth who cyberbully pretend that they are other people online to trick others. They spread lies and rumors about victims, trick people into revealing personal information, send or forward mean text messages and post pictures of victims without their consent.
When teens were asked why they think others cyberbully, 81 percent said that cyberbullies think it’s funny. Other teens believe that youth who cyberbully don’t think it’s a big deal, don’t think about the consequences, are encouraged by friends, think everybody cyberbullies or think they won’t get caught.
Contrary to what cyberbullies may believe, cyberbullying is a big deal and can cause a variety of reactions in teens. Some teens have reacted in positive ways to try to prevent cyberbullying by blocking communication with the cyberbully, deleting messages without reading them, talking to a friend about the bullying or reporting the problem to an Internet service provider or Web site moderator.
Many youth experience a variety of emotions when they are cyberbullied. Youth who are cyberbullied report feeling angry, hurt, embarrassed or scared. These emotions can cause victims to react in ways such as seeking revenge on the bully, avoiding friends and activities or cyberbullying back.
Some teens feel threatened because they may not know who is cyberbullying them. Although cyberbullies may think they are anonymous – they can be found.
If you are cyberbullied or harassed and need help, save all communication with the cyberbully and talk to a parent, teacher, law enforcement officer or other trusted adult.
Don’t forget that even though you can’t see a cyberbully or the bully’s victim, cyberbullying causes real problems. If you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t say it online. Delete cyberbullying. Don’t write it. Don’t forward it.
Remember that the Internet is accessed by millions of people all over the world, not just your friends and family. While many Internet users are friendly, some may want to hurt you.
Never post or share your personal information online (this includes your full name, address, telephone number, school name, parents’ names, credit card number, or Social Security number) or your friends’ personal information.
Never share your Internet passwords with anyone, except your parents.
Never meet anyone face-to-face whom you only know online.
Talk to your parents about what you do online.
For information, visit www.ncpc.org.