Special Report: The Newest Breed of Bully, the Cyberbully

By: Sam Provenzano Email
By: Sam Provenzano Email

Last year 13-year-old Megan Meir of Missouri committed suicide after being bullied on her MySpace account her case caught the attention of millions about this growing trend.

I investigated how a simple text message or e-mail can be just as detrimental to the psyche as being bullied in person.

It's the schoolyard bully.

Most of us have fallen victim to at least one in our lifetime.

Now bullying has a new face--or no face at all.

It's called cyberbullying.

"This is bullying through the Internet, bullying through text messages, cell phones, photographs and social networks like MySpace or Facebook," said Dr. William Pfohl, psychologist.

Unlike the playground bully, cyberbullies won't leave you with a black eye, but instead emotional scars...

" The psychological bullying can be all the way from disgust self-esteem to depression and we've had some cases reported of suicide," stated Pfohl.

Stephanie Human and Drake Riley of Moss Middle School have been hit once or twice by a cyberbully.

"It was over a guy, teen issues--middle school issues," said Stephanie Human.

It was somethin about callin me a girl and just makin fun of me, just dumb stuff," said Drake Riley.

Just like being hit--words can leave a mark.

" I've gotten really mad about it sometimes, but I was able to keep my cool," stated Riley.

"I do get upset--very upset. I do show anger," said Human.

According to some studies 40-percent of students have been bullied online and it could be happening to your child, but the students at Moss Middle school feel safe..

"We have a bunch of bullying programs here at Moss," said Human.

That's not all.

Moss Middle School Prinicipal Tom Renick says his school does everything it can to counter act online attacks...

"We have focus groups, maybe just not on cyberbullying, but bullying behavior in general," said Renick.

And the most affective deterent to bullying at Moss?

"We call it our Crime Stoppers box," said Renick.

"If kids want to report anonymously about bullying in general or cyberbullying they can leave that in the box and we can address it that way," said Amanda Warder, Guidance Counselor at Moss Middle School.

So what can students do to avoid being another online victim?

"The thing a bully wants, they just want attention. If you don't give them the attention then they'll stop," stated Riley.

"If they send you a message on your phone or on MySpace just block it or delete it before you can even read it," said Human.

It's also important to know that parents need to do their part to counteract cyberbullying.

According to one national parenting expert, parents need to step up to the plate and talk more with their child about cyberbullying.

If you're child is confronted by a cyberbully, it's important to warn your child to cut communication with that person--even if the offender is an alleged "friend."

For more tips on how to counteract cyberbullying click here and to take an online quiz click here.

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