How bad is online bullying? If it’s happened to you, you already know.
If it hasn’t, it’s difficult to understand the extent to which it can change someone’s life. The emotional ordeal is horrible – targets can go though a range of emotions such as anger, fear, frustration, anxiety, sadness, depression, helplessness and hopelessness. Often they don’t know where to turn for help.
One recent example in the news shows the extent of the online bullying problem:
For nearly three years, an online bully plagued Nafeesa, following her across the social networking spectrum, hounding the girl and her friends on MySpace, Facebook and a video chat service called ooVoo, according to police and her family. In 2009, the bully started impersonating Nafeesa, according to police and relatives, using several fake profiles to hold her online personality hostage until police tracked down the impostor last month….There were momentary victories, but every time the mother managed to get a page deleted, a new one would spring up within days. The tormentor used varying online identities.
….[Nafeesa] fits the profile of a typical victim of online harassment, according to a 2010 study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Cyber-bullying victims are normally between the ages of 14 and 17, and 38 percent of “all online girls” have reported that they experienced harassment, according to the study.
While this example deals with a teenage girl, adult targets of online attacks are equally vulnerable. In fact, because they are adults, there is an expectation that they should be able to deal with such types of situations better, to “have a thicker skin” or “just ignore it.” And that response to adults targets is unacceptable.
We need to recognize the impact online attacks have on *all* their victims, both children and adults, and provide a legal environment that assists them in pursuing their attackers and a social environment that provides them the emotional support they need.