Fatima Al-Sammak, Editor-in-Chief

Cyberbullying is something not many people discuss. Although technology has gone rampant and is now pretty much taking over our lives, it’s still that topic of discussion no one wants to actually discuss. But there must be a reason for that, right? Whether it’s kids not reporting it when it happens, or adults not really caring that it actually happens, there must be some sort of reason. And the most common reason seems to be that people don’t consider online bullying to actually be bullying. It doesn’t physically affect a person, they can ignore it, block the person, or delete whatever comment they made, so the victim must not be getting hurt, right? Well, as unfortunate as it is to say, that is not how things work out. Because most of the time, words, even ones said online, can hurt just as much as someone saying it face-to-face.

One of the most important things that must be established first is what cyberbullying exactly is. It is any sort of disrespectful of hurtful behavior that occurs online and is directed towards a specific person or group of people. So this can be through emails, text messages, and most commonly, social media. The main problem with cyberbullying is that it can happen at any time and at any point of the day, even when the person is alone. So sometimes, there won’t be any witnesses when this happens. And after something is posted, it’s very hard to take it back or delete it permanently. Meaning that the victim will always be exposed to it in some way, whether it’s by people who have seen the post, also joining in to tease the victim, rr by people taking screenshots and posting it on other social media sites and online platforms.

Nonetheless, the consequences of cyberbullying are still severe. It has been discovered that victims of bullying are more likely to involve themselves with illegal actions such as consuming drugs and alcohol in order to make themselves forget about the situation. They will also take to skipping school to avoid coming face-to-face with the people that bullied them online to avoid the possibility of being bullied by them in-person. As a result, a person who is cyberbullied might also receive poor grades because he/she avoids going to school and doesn’t try as hard when it comes to school work. Another problem might be that he/she will have low self-esteem due to some of the language that the bully might have used with the victim. The bully might have made fun of the victim’s appearance, actions, way of talking, and this will cause the victim to feel more self-conscious and insecure. They could have more health problems as well as they could take to harming themselves depending on what sort of bully behavior they had been exposed to. For example, if they had been made fun of for being too overweight, they could take to not eating enough and not getting the proper nutrition they need. Other effects could be depression and self-harm due to the growing feeling of insecurity and the decreasing level of self-confidence that the person might feel.

Due to these reasons, students must work together to help lower the amount of cyberbullying that happens online. It might not come as a surprise to many, but for this day and age, social media is a hunting ground for bullies. Two of the most common ones, Facebook and Twitter, happen to make it especially easy for bullies to find their victim. With Facebook, it’s easy for people to find each other with a quick search of their names. Through that, they can message the person or even post on their wall. The same happens with Twitter as an individual can tag anyone can tag anyone in their message, directly referencing what the individual says towards them. What makes the situation worse is that it won’t just be the bully and the victim who see this, but everyone else, whether they have that social media site as well or not. Because if the original poster had made their account’s setting to public, anyone who happens to stumble upon their page will be able to view their posts.

Prevention is the key to stopping all of this from happening though. We can help stop the likeliness of victims skipping school, doing drugs, or harming themselves if we take to protecting everyone from having to experience cyberbullying or stopping it before it gets too far. Almost all social media sites have the option to report something for various reasons. One of those reasons can be that whatever is said in that post could be considered disrespectful or hurtful, especially when it is targeted towards a specific person. And usually, if something gets reported on an online site, then there will be consequences for the user. This way, the user can be stopped from making more posts that will bring harm or pain to those that read it. Another way could be defending the victim. If you see someone being bullied or targeted online, it is best to try and defend the victim, but only if you really know them or you are knowledgeable about the situation. Otherwise, it will be best to report this kind of online behavior to an adult that you trust and know will be able to handle the situation properly to avoid putting yourself in harm’s way without fully knowing the situation.

Even though cyberbullying is being overlooked as an aspect of social media, that doesn’t make it any less harmful than the bullying people in real life today. So it is best to know how to handle the situation so that neither the reporter nor the victim will be put into further danger of getting hurt by the bully or his/her supporters. But rather, the witness is able to help out the victim. Because everyone should feel safe and enjoy their time while being on sites that are meant to be there for entertainment and news outlets, not for being hurt or hurting others.