Cyber bullying goes beyond classroom

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Scott Driscoll with Internet Safety Concepts says technology makes it easy for a bully to go beyond the classroom and into a child’s life and sometimes it is even more traumatic.

“When we see cyber bullying it happens outside of the school walls. It happens at 5 o’clock, 6 o’clock at night,” said Driscoll. “The cyber bullying has a different twist to it. It can last for a long time because once people start screen shooting of what they seen online, they share it. They forward it. That can stay online permanently.”

Bullies can reach their target at any time or any place. As an 8th grader, Joe Settanni sees it happen.

“It makes it a lot worse over the internet because since they have phones they could just go through all the social media things, be called names and harassed all throughout their lives no matter where they are,” said Settanni.

“Child bullying is becoming a problem and as educators we really need to see that and be aware of it,” Kevin McCormick said.

McCormick is a former principal. He says there is no escape from a cyber-bully’s reach, “There is a lot more in place now especially with bullying on the internet, social media and bullying that you see in school on a regular basis but at the same time there has to be a real diligence to follow through with it and once in a while some things do slip through the cracks.”

Driscoll teaches kids to use smart choices when using the internet.

“Self-esteem is a fragile thing as a teenager and it could really have a number on it. If it seems online that everyone is making comments and posting it could be a real bad thing for self esteem,” Driscoll added.

Bullies can hide their identity through social media.

“Text messages, group text messages, social media. There is such an ease because we hide behind the screen. There are apps out there that let us to be anonymous,” said Driscoll.

Parents should communicate with their child and look for any changes in behavior.

“If your child is always using technology then all of a sudden they stopped using it or every time a cell phone rings and the child jumps maybe there is a reason why they don’t want to use technology then all of a sudden they stop using it,” Driscoll said.

Federal statistics say roughly 15 percent of high school students are bullied online.

“I think it’s important to block and stop the communication with the people. A lot of times young people think they need to have a lot of followers, a lot of friends safety is more important,” Driscoll adds.

He says it’s okay to take time out from using social media, adding, “You don’t have to be 24/7 on technology and communicating. Take a break and get with the people that are good for you.”

If you or someone you know is being cyberbullied, ConnectSafely.org has put together a Parent’s Guide to Cyberbullying that is available here.

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