What is Cyber Bullying?
Bullying used to happen on the playground but now it can happen anywhere… and does.
For many the idea of a bully is about an angry kid pushing a pipsqueak off the swing, name calling, the threat of a fist in your face, or having them follow you all the way home taunting your safety, security, and well-being.
THAT is still a thing that impacts a lot of youngsters, but it’s the electronic–aka cyber– bullying–that has become so insidious. It is done by so called friends, acquaintances, and by complete strangers. It can be anonymous and drive a normal person to deep depression, self loathing, self harm, or even suicide.
It travels very, very quickly and can do a lot of damage instantly.
Cyber bullying has an intimate and knowing nature behind it. Things like:
- Photos–whether personal or private… on the web.
- Voyeurism–is someone taking pix/videos from afar?
- Recordings–you can be recorded any time, any where.
- Pix of loved ones–all over the web.
- Emails/posts/pix–it can all be manipulated
- Personal Information–think about it.
- Knowing someone’s weak spot and making fun of it.
- Addresses–home, school, grandparents, church, work
- Links to social media–all there for the cyber world
- No respect for time–its anytime and all the time
- No face or fist at the other end… it could be anyone
- Psychological manipulation.
- Sexual grooming
- All on repeat–in a loop–over and over and over….
If you have a computer, you can be a victim of cyber bullying. Simple as that.
There’s a lot of sick and twisted people out there with nothing but time on their hands. Never doubt that you too could become a victim. To understand the issue and make this an open issue with consequences for the bullies, is key.
If you are a student going through this, know that there are laws and help is available.
If you’re a parent, an auntie, or caregiver, share this with the people in your life. Discuss it openly and make a plan to keep the lines of communication open.
Yes, seriously. That means you too.
This Is Amanda Todd?
“Amanda Michelle Todd (November 27, 1996 – October 10, 2012) was a 15-year-old Canadian student and victim of cyberbullying who hanged herself at her home in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada. Before her death, Todd posted a video on YouTube in which she used a series of flash cards to tell her experience of being blackmailedinto exposing her breasts via webcam, and of being bullied and physically assaulted. The video went viral after her death, resulting in international media attention. The video has had more than 14 million views as of February 2022. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and British Columbia Coroners Service launched investigations into the suicide.”
Here’s the thing, Amanda Todd became trapped in a vicious cycle of abuse via the internet. She made an error of flashing her bare breasts for someone on line and what followed by nothing but pure hell. She was only 14 years old.
According to her mother, Amanda was socially awkward and craved attention. She found that online she could become anything she wanted and slipped down the rabbit hole of the dark web where she fell victim to a blackmailer.
He befriended Todd, gained her trust, and convinced her to flash her bare breasts. He then used those images to blackmail her into further exposure as he allegedly sent pictures to her classmates, Facebook friends, and a child porn site.
Amanda Todd was slut shamed and mercilessly bullied at school when word got out. She changed schools but was still lured back to the web. The blackmailer had a strong hold on her and wanted more.
Watch her Story in an interview with her parents, friends, and investigators.
The blackmailer would tell her that she needed to do shows for him or he’d forward more images to her friends, family, and city newspaper. The pressure became too much and Amanda hanged herself.
Amanda was an average teen. She wanted to be liked and told she was pretty. She was needy, fragile, and though she thought she was grown up, she was just a kid. She had so much life ahead of her. We need to listen and learn from her story. Unfortunately, she wasn’t the first and won’t be the last.
What is Sextortion?
This is a type of blackmail where a person has some sexually explicit pictures, video, or information and threatens to release it all over the internet if you don’t do what they say.
In the case of Amanda Todd, the sextortionist, told her that if she didn’t do things of a sexual nature for him, that he’d send pictures of her flashing her breasts to her social media accounts etc. This begins the vicious, unending loop of blackmail.
Amanda didn’t stand a chance against this. She switched school several times but still the images and shame followed her.
For more information on sextortion check out Wikipedia
Are You Part of the Problem?
One of the scariest things for kids, is to be out of the loop with their friends. If they are threatened with losing their device then they may not tell anyone the truth about what’s happening online. This is a major issue. So be aware and watch the all or nothing rules.
Do you know what’s happening in your house? Is your kid on the computer all night? Here are some things to consider:
- kids do NOT need a computer in their room
- have a computer in an area where there is traffic. Things can still happen but less likely in the open.
- if a kid takes the computer to their room have rules that it needs to be removed before bedtime or by midnight or ?? Set the rules.
- recognize that all kids will lie in order to get, and do, what they want
- cameras are now built into computers … they don’t need a webcam. Webcams are used for higher quality online engagements. If your kid buys a webcam… ask them what they’re doing. Why do they need it? Have them show you? Stay tuned in.
- computers includes phones, laptops, and tablets.
- watch the video about Amanda Todd. Watch it with your kid
- know what your kids’ friends are doing? Are they allowed a computer in their room?
- be open and communicate with your kid.
- if you notice raised and increasing anxiety, depression, constant need to check the computer… be concerned.
- do you as a parent or caregiver know what’s happening at the school with your kid? It’s your right to call the Principal and chat. You can do that. Also, ask your kid.
- don’t tell yourself that your kid would fall victim to a cyber bully because they could and will if left to their own devices
- cyber bullies have lots of time to groom and befriend the lonely, awkward kid who is unsuspecting of what’s on the other side of the screen
- kids think they know it all… often they’ll believe the 40 year old creep who says he’s 18 years old and wants to be their friend because he understands… blah blah blah
- if your kid is quickly shutting the lid to their laptop when you walk in the room, I’d be curious as to what they were doing. Ask them. Talk to them. Share this post with them. Go through it with them.
- don’t tell a kid that they’ll get over any type of harassment… It’s serious stuff. Take it seriously.
- keep the phone numbers and text number (provided below) taped to the fridge and discuss the use with your kid or teen.
- make sure you let them know you’d rather they reach out to someone rather than stay silent.
- if there’s a twist in your gut–listen to it.
- involve the police sooner rather than later.
Online Bullies… Are You One of Them?
Hey, it’s easy to get caught up with a group of people and do things you don’t really mean or believe. But let me tell you, if you’re sharing crappy online shit (I know you know what I’m talking about) then you too could be a cyber bully. I don’t care if you’re a nine-year-old student, a thirty-something stay-at-home mom, or someone who just wants to fit in… Stop it. Now.
- share and post rumor and innuendo?
- do or say mean things online to get even?
- share or post humiliating pix of others and make fun of them (It doesn’t need to be someone you know… a lot of cyber bullies do it to strangers)
- pretend to be someone else and make fun of people?
- direct email or text someone just to call them bad names?
- add things to someone’s online profile that is racist, sexist, or even illegal (like hate speech)?
- take pix of people, post them, and then make fun of them online?
- hack into someones profile and pretend to be them?
- post threats–either online or in private messages?
- bombard a person with words and images just to be mean? like constantly calling them loser?
- post videos that are embarrassing or intended to humiliate?
- post nude photos or videos of others to sex sites?
- share trusted secrets or pix?
- encourage others to block someone all at the same time? or the opposite and swarm someone with a barrage of online abuse?
- participate in chat and totally ignore, exclude, or disrespect someone?
- impersonate someone and post inappropriate stuff?
If you do any of these things….You’re a CYBER BULLY! It’s not funny. It’s not a joke.
You’ll notice that none of this has to happen on the dark web with strangers. It can happen with those you know at school, at work, a sports team, etc.
If you’re doing this kind of stuff, you’re no better than the asshole who kept poking and prodding Amanda Todd until she broke. Don’t be two-faced in your life… You know the nice smile and good manners and then slam someone online and destroy their reputation, their sense of security, or self worth.
There are laws. Believe me when I say that persistent harassment is illegal and there is always a link of evidence somewhere. Don’t forget that.
Are You a Victim?
If you’re on the receiving end of all the mean stuff then there are a few things you can do.
- tell your parents.
- tell a teacher.
- tell auntie.
- don’t suffer alone.
- call the kid or teen hotline. Talking can make it real and can be the first step in getting it fixed.
- don’t share or forward any of the bullying emails.
- resist the urge to retaliate with your own bullying strategy.
- DO NOT ENGAGE with the bully. This is really important because when you engage or get angry at the person who sent something, then they gain power. They immediately know they’ve gotten to you. Don’t give them the satisfaction.
- keep all the bullying in a folder or take screen shots. Don’t delete it. It can be used as evidence.
- block anyone who is bullying you. Don’t hesitate…do it now.
Remember, you’re not alone and you WILL get through this. Help is available.
If you don’t feel you can talk to your parents then check out the information at Kid Help Line or call 1-800-668-6868 or text 686868 to talk to a real person.
Be An Advocate. Tell Your Story.
In time, I hope you can tell your story–whether you’re on the victim or bullying side of the equation. Both are important to know.
The motivation of some who bully is a mystery. Does it make them feel powerful? Who knows? What do you think?
We must learn from other’s stories. Remind yourself constantly that you are not alone. Ever.
Someone cares and understands.
What happened to Amanda Todd was a complete tragedy. She got sucked down into a dark place. A place where a manipulative bastard used her actions against her to humiliate and degrade her. She was barely a teen.
Make note of your story–share when you’re ready.
Ditch the Device–Maybe for a Day or Two
I know how hard it is to break away from technology for any length of time, but sometimes it’s necessary.
If you’re bombarded with negative messages, you’ll have to step back. Don’t sit with them as they’re toxic and sent with the intention to hurt you. Shut off the device and take a break.
Even a couple of hours will make a difference, but an entire day could reveal a new path in your life. It doesn’t hurt to give it a try.
Help is Just a Phone Call Away… Don’t Think it’s Minor or Silly… Teens–Pick up the Phone
Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline
Call or text 1-800-422-4453
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week
Canada Suicide Prevention Service
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week
Or text 45645 from 4 p.m. to midnight EST
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