For most people, the word “cyberbullying” is one that they’ve only become familiar with in the last few years. As more and more stories of teens suffering torment from their peers online (and the sometimes dramatically harmful effects this kind of bullying can have), parents and teachers alike have become more aware of just how widespread the problem may be, and how it can harm its teenage targets. As experts in helping teens who struggle succeeding in a normal school environment, the therapists, teachers and staff at Sage Day’s therapeutic high schools and lower & middle school, have seen the extent of the harm cyberbullying can cause, and understand how important confronting the issue is for the health of students across the country.
Cyberbullying and Teens
Many adults have a hard time understanding just how important online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other similar social media outlets are for teenagers. Because they did not grow up with social media, smart phones, and constant internet connections, they fail to grasp the extent to which a teen’s online identity is a part of their personal and public reputation, and how having that reputation compromised by bullying can have devastating effects on their social life, their emotional health, and their self-esteem.
Additionally, many teens and adults alike underestimate how easy it is to cause harm through cyberbullying, and have trouble determining the difference between what they see as playful mischief and terrorizing their victim. Online, where personal contact is minimized and there are little to no restrictions on what someone can say, it is easy for people to cross the line into causing emotional harm without realizing it. This creates a situation where not only are people being bullied, but the bullies themselves don’t always recognize their harmful behavior until it is too late and they have already caused serious damage to the victim.
Dealing with Cyberbullying
Because it happens online, managing cyberbullying will always be difficult to deal with. That said, there are steps that parents and school officials can take to help manage the problem and help those who have been the targets of cyberbullying:
- Promote good digital citizenship in teens – Parents and teachers alike should make an effort to teach children the importance of proper online behavior, and the consequences of failing to follow the rules of good behavior online.
- Make it safe for victims to come forward – Many teens who are being cyberbullied are afraid to come forward, out of fear that they won’t be taken seriously or that they will suffer socially for reporting their peers. Parents and schools need to make it safe for victims to come forward without consequence and without fear of being ignored.
- Take the effects of cyberbullying seriously – Just like bullying that takes place in person, cyberbullying can cause serious mental and physical health problems in its victims. Depression, anxiety, social withdrawal, lower academic performance, and even attempted suicide are all possible symptoms associated with bullying, both online and offline.
Sage Day therapeutic schools provide a safe environment for teens who have been targeted by cyberbullies to heal and grow. Learn more about our programs by calling 877-887-8817 today.