More than 40 percent of kids in the United States have been bullied online, which has become known as cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying is defined as tormenting, threatening, harassing or embarrassing another person using the internet or other technologies, like cell phones.
Cell phones are actually the most common medium for cyberbullying.
A main reason we have seen an influx of cyberbullying in recent years, is the fact that it is anonymous.
It is easier to bully in cyberspace than it is face-to-face and a bully can pick on someone with less risk of getting caught. Also, bullies can enlist the participation of others who would be much less likely to bully face-to-face.
People who would normally be quiet bystanders become active participants online; the detachment in cyberspace makes this easier.
Individuals who are being cyberbullied should not respond to offensive emails, texts or social media posts made by the bully.
They should also enlist the help of parents and/or teachers, and save evidence so school officials, internet providers or police can deal with the situation properly.
For parents, it is important to let your kids’ teachers know if cyberbullying is occurring, as it is usually an extension of bullying that is already taking place at school.
Cyberbullying can be just as harmful as face-to-face bullying, therefore it is important for parents to monitor their child’s cell phone and internet activity, and if repeated, excessive harassment is suspected, it may be time to contact a medical professional.
Here in the community, Cone Health has an exceptional network of pediatricians, behavioral health specialists and other related medical professionals dedicated to educating and counseling children and families on cyberbullying and how to intervene if it becomes a problem.
Dr. David Gutterman is a clinical psychologist at LeBauer Behavioral Medicine and a member of the Cone Health Medical Staff.
He completed undergraduate studies at Tulane University and earned a Masters of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Houston.
Dr. Gutterman earned his Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology from Northwestern University.