How To Prevent Cyberbullying

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There are many things that are common, shared experiences among teens. Prom, a first kiss and, unfortunately now for many, cyberbullying. We all know someone who has been sent a mean text from a jealous ex-friend or been the victim of a cruel meme. I’m 32 years old and even I have had a friend who was cyberbullied via a meme, well her child was. Someone made a meme of her TWO YEAR OLD CHILD! A person from her hometown decided to pull a picture of her son off of her Facebook and poke fun at the expense of this little boy by creating a mean meme. A mean meme, of a two-year-old child… I just don’t get why the person did it.

Cyberbullying follows us, into the privacy of our home, where we can’t escape or prevent others from seeing it and joining in. This year nationally, more than 13 million American children will be bullied. 1 in 6 parents know their child has been bullied over social media and in over half of these cases their child was a repeat victim. The reason this is such a big deal is because overall, the suicide rate among teens has climbed in the past few years. According to http://www.nydailynews.com, the rate has climbed “from 6.3% in 2009 to 7.8% in 2011… According to the survey about 20% of high-schoolers said they’d been bullied while at school, and 16% said they’d been ‘cyberbullied’ through email, chat, instant messaging, social media or texting. As more and more forms of communication spring up, there’s opportunity for bullying to occur, which could eventually lead to an increased rate of attempted suicides, neuropsychologist Dr. Hector Adames told MSNBC.”

So what are we going to do about it? Before now, bullying online had minimal risk. If you could prove you didn’t create the content then you wouldn’t get in trouble, only the person who generates the content would get punished, but any of the hundreds or more people that could re-tweet, or resend the content would get off scotch free, creating virtually no risk for these quiet bullies that are perpetuating the abuse. Now that has changed!

Thanks to Assemblymember Christina Garcia, who proposed bill AB 881(a bill that Junior League Long Beach supported), beginning Jan 1, 2016 anyone who transmits (re-tweets, re-posts, re-sends) the content CAN ALSO BE SUSPENDED!!! This will hopefully get those, otherwise well behaved, kids from jumping on the bandwagon and contributing to something that could encourage a peer’s suicide.

A lot of people that take part in online bullying don’t realize how much they are really damaging their victim. We need to think twice before making a mean comment or re-posting harmful posts and be conscious when we are online. We need to be aware of our actions and how they can affect those around us. I wish this bill wasn’t necessary, that we would all post only the positive and kind. It takes a lot more energy to hate someone then it does to ignore them. Think of how you would feel if someone said those things to you and try to be sympathetic towards others. Then we could really see some positive change in this world!

-Sara G

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