It Has to Stop Now: Cyberbullying
Written by Sumaya Abdul-Motagaly
One of the top three countries where cyberbullying is the most reported is in the United States of America. Ever since the access to affordable computers began around the 1990s, shoves into lockers, fights, and the infamous wedgies have transformed into harassment online.
Cyberbullying, as defined by Oxford is “the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.” To many, it is assumed that bullying in the virtual world isn’t as harmful as it is in person, and that is undeniably not the case. One study proved that victims of cyberbullying are twice more likely to take their own lives1 , and as declared by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), suicide is now the second leading cause of death for people between the age of 10 through 24.
Cyber-bullying became recognized around 2007 after it led to several teen suicides. One of the most known cases was when Megan Taylor Meier hung herself as a result of a fake MySpace account, under the name “Josh”-created by her neighbors-targetted her with cruel, troubling messages. Megan’s case spurred discussion and action in her home state of Missouri, resulting in the pass of an “anti-harassment law encompassing acts of cyberbullying.”2
When smartphones-a cheaper and more portable alternative to computers- integrated themselves into society, cyberbullying followed. Since 2000, the majority of
Suicide incidents from cyberbullying originate from the exposure of explicit and private photos being shared on social media.
To this day, the rise of new social media outlets such as Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram, have further allowed users to ruin others’ lives with ease. The effortless exchange of videos, photos, and messages have provided easy access for tormentation. Tyler Clementi, a college student, jumped off a building in 2010 after a video of him kissing another man circulated the web. In 2012, fifteen-year-old Audrie Pott hung herself when pictures of her being sexually assaulted went viral. Twelve-year-old Gabriella Green took her life in 2018 after being bullied online. Hailey Nailor, 16, jumped off a parking building in 2019.
Although many state laws are in place, the issue continues as more teens die. Many schools have implemented anti-bullying programs, yet the internet is still a dangerous place. Teen suicide needs to be acknowledged, spoken about, and stopped. It is not a joke. It is not funny when others are made fun of. It is not okay to bully someone online or anywhere.
Do not be a bystander. Speak up, and help out. Your actions can save lives; the question is will you?
1 Sameer Hinduja & Justin W. Patchin (2019) Connecting Adolescent Suicide to the Severity of Bullying and Cyberbullying, Journal of School Violence, 18:3, 333-346, DOI: 10.1080/15388220.2018.1492417
2 Team, The Bark. “The History of Cyberbullying.” Bark, Bark, 12 Oct. 2020, www.bark.us/blog/the-history-of-cyberbullying/.