In 2012, in British Columbia, Canada, a 15-year old girl named Amanda Todd killed herself. The reason: cyberbullying.
The case has brought to light the devastating effects that cyberbullying can have on a person. Todd’s death has affected Canadians immediately and deeply. Parents are suddenly asking themselves: Is my child being cyber-bullied? How would I know?
- Unexplainable injuries
- Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry.
- Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness.
- Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
- Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares.
- Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school.
- Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations.
- Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem.
- Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide.
The Cyberbullying Research Centre says that 1o% to 40% of youth may be the victim of cyberbullying. They add to the list of warning signs by zooming in on key indicators that make cyberbullying different from other kinds of bullying:
Signs your child is the victim of cyberbullying
Your child may be the victim of cyberbullying if he or she:
- unexpectedly stops using their computer or cell phone.
- appears nervous or jumpy when an instant message or email appears.
- appears uneasy about going to school or outside in general.
- appears to be angry, depressed, or frustrated after using the computer or cell phone.
- avoids discussions about what they are doing on the computer or cell phone.
- or becomes abnormally withdrawn from usual friends and family members.
Cyberbulling is a real phenomenon that affects tens of thousands of children (and adults) around the world on a daily basis. I am not an expert in this area, but I firmly believe that every person deserves love, respect and safety. Deepest condolences to the family of Amanda Todd.
Amercian Humane Association. (n.d.). Cyber Bullying Prevention and Intervention. Retrieved November 19, 2012, from http://www.americanhumane.org/children/stop-child-abuse/fact-sheets/cyber-bullying-prevention-and-intervention.html
Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (n.d.). Cyberbulling: Indentification, prevention and response. Retrieved from http://www.cyberbullying.us/Cyberbullying_Identification_Prevention_Response_Fact_Sheet.pdf
This is the first in a series of posts on cyberbulling. Check out these related posts:
5 Signs your child is a cyberbully http://wp.me/pNAh3-1AM
Share or Tweet this: How to tell if your child is being cyber-bullied http://wp.me/pNAh3-1w4
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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.