This week we are considering the issue of Cyber Bullying and the impact that it says on the people that have experienced it. 100% of our clients have experienced bullying at some point in their lives and we’re saddened to see that the rates of children being bullied online has now risen to 43%! We take a look a personal account, what cyber bullying really is and what people can do to protect themselves:
I spent much of my childhood overweight and had always felt pretty bad about myself and the way that I looked… I was 13 years old. I had a few close friends, but like me, they struggled with a lack of confidence and so were unable to fully get involved with most of the social activities that went on around school. When I turned 15years old I started to play hockey for my school and things started to get better. I lost much of the ‘puppy’ weight that I’d carried as a kid and I felt positive about school for the first time in my life. I’d met a guy who seemed to really like me and I was spending a lot of time socialising with my new team mates. One evening I received an aggressive email from an anonymous address….that was the beginning of what became a tirade of vicious attacks which included hundreds of emails and even a fake Facebook account which had been set up in my name. I felt so scared and helpless because I had no idea who was doing this or why. I felt so unsure who to trust and didn’t know who to turn to. My eating disorder provided a grim escape from my sad and lonely reality. I became more withdrawn, I began bingeing and I started purging as well. I left school shortly before my GCSEs were due to start and took them in isolation. My school made some attempts to resolve things but nothing made any real difference, they eventually contacted the Police who were able to trace the messages to a girl in my class at school. She was cautioned and is now in therapy. I’ve been in therapy for my eating disorder and for the trauma that I experienced as a result of the bullying for the last 2 years. I’m so much stronger now and more confident but I think that the wounds inflicted upon me as a result of that bullying will stay with me for life.
“There are many ways of bullying someone online and for some it can take shape in more ways than one.”
What is Cyber-Bullying?
Cyber bulling is any form of bullying that takes place online. It can take place on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, over messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Snapchat or Instagram or even on YouTube and Xbox Live. Cyber bullying is much more wide spread that you may initially think and due to the ever increasing social media world we live in; we keep seeing an increase in Cyber bullying.
UK Bullying says that “There are many ways of bullying someone online and for some it can take shape in more ways than one.”
Some of the most frequent types of cyber bullying we see are harassment, denigration, flaming, impersonation, outing and trickery, cyber stalking and exclusion. Bulling can also take place in the form of spreading rumours and gossip. This is especially horrible for the person who is being spoken about as these comments can reach so many people in such a short space of time.
Comments on social media can sometimes get abusive. There are ways to remove these comments on every social media app or website so make sure you report them and follow up if they do not get removed. Making physical threats toward other people is a criminal offence as it is against the law to use the internet to cause alarm or distress. If you ever have threats made against you then it is important that you notify a parent or someone responsible that you trust so that they can make a complaint to the police for you if you feel that you can’t. Remember to always keep a copy of any threats made to you by screen shooting the threats or using the “print screen” button.
Why do people become bullies?
People will bully for many reasons. One of the trends that we see at The Recover Clinic is that young people are increasingly struggling to emotionally ‘cope’ with the world around them. This has lead to a surge in self-destructive behaviours such as eating disorders, self harm, drug abuse, etc. but we would also argue that perpetrators of bullying are also unable to manage their emotions and have thus turned toward a destructive tool for coping. Bullying gives people a sense of power and control, it can also provide people with a ‘release’ for pent up aggressive and anger. If we provide young people with ways to express their emotions safely and allow them to feel supported, we believe that the rates of bullying would decrease.
What can I do to protect myself?
- People will often send naked images of themselves to people that they trust. One way to make sure that these images are never distributed without your permission is to not share them in the first place. It is against the law for anyone under the age of 18 to take, send or redistribute pictures of anyone under the age of 18.
- Do not arrange to meet/share personal information with anyone that you have met online.
- Report any forms of harassment or bullying as soon as you see them taking place or experience them yourself.
- Keep all of your passwords secret.
- Sign out from any public computers when you leave.
- Consider how you are talking to people online; don’t post anything you wouldn’t want to receive yourself.
- Only ‘friend’ or share information with a small group of people and keep your posts ‘private’.