Bullying has moved out of the playground and onto the screen, causing cases of cyberbullying to increase in number and severity each year.
On April 15 La Verne Police Department Detective Justin Newman gave a lecture to approximately 75 students, alumni and faculty about the danger and harm of cyberbullying, which he defined as the act of being cruel to others by sending or posting harmful material using a type of technology.
“Cyberbullying is a growing epidemic and it’s growing at a rapid rate,” Newman said. “We are living in a technology era.”
According to Newman and researchers, there are eight types of cyberbullying, including flaming, harassment, cyberstalking, denigration, impersonation, outing, exclusion and anonymity.
Flaming involves intense arguments that take place in chat rooms or email. Bullies use capital letters, images and symbols to get their message across.
Harassment involves bullies sending offensive messages targeted at an individual or group.
Cyberstalking is a form of harassment. It involves people who feel that someone will turn into an actual stalker. With denigration, bullies will create profiles that directly make fun of someone.
Impersonation means the bully pretends to be someone who they are not.
Outing is the public display or forwarding of personal communication such as text messages, emails or instant messages. In some cases bullies will print out the conversations and distribute them.
Exclusion involves a group of people not inviting one person then they make fun of the one left out over the Internet or a similar method.
Anonymity is when a bully makes direct threats to you. However, they hide their identity, making it more difficult to figure out who they really are and who is sending these threatening message or email.
Today children have more access to technology; this is why it is a serious concern and why there are more cases of cyberbullying than there were 20 years ago.
“Most people have a Facebook,” Newman said. “In some cases children as young as 9 have an account.”
ASULV Senators of Education Jenae Hodges and Kacey Hall helped sponsor the event.
“We felt that it was important for students who are studying education and educators to be aware of cyberbullying,” Hodges, junior child development major, said.
Cyberbullying can start in most cases at the age of nine and lasts till over the age of 14.
“Cyberbullying is an issue most people know about, but they don’t know what role they can have in order to stop it,” Hodges said.
“One reason why it’s a big deal is because it’s easy to pick one students over a screen, because you have no face-to-face contact,” Newman said.
If cyberbullying happens the victim should report it because it is considered harassment.
The person who is showing signs of harassment can be arrested and prosecuted.
Written accounts of the harassment or bullying can make the case easier, because there is evidence present to bring the harasser to justice.
“Call the police immediately when any death threats, or any threat in general,” Newman said. “You don’t want to take any chances.”
At the same time make sure understand what exactly is happening because there is a big difference between rude communication and cyberbullying. At the same time it is important to fully understand the message that is said.
“I knew a little bit about cyberbullying already,” junior movement and sports science major Lisa Bakke said. “Just learning more about the different cases was interesting.”
Besides giving definition of cyberbullying Newman gave the audience a couple of cases of cyberbullying that happened recently.
“I thought it was very informative. I didn’t know a lot about it before,” Renee Wolfrom, teacher at LeRoys Haynes Center in La Verne, said.
“I will pass this information to my co-workers. This is a great place to get information on cyberbullying.”
This is something that needs to be stopped. With technology only getting more advanced everyday more cases of cyberbullying will continue to increase, unless people step up to put it to an end before something drastic happens.
Jesse Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.