Anyone Can Look Tough Behind A Computer III: How Cyber Bullies Are Tormenting Kids


Do you remember being told “sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you” as a kid? Well, I’ll be the first one to admit that that phrase is complete and utter bullshit. Of course words hurt! Sometimes they can inflict more damage than sticks and stones ever could. Worst of all, they leave scars that others will never be able to see. 

As may or may not know, cyber bullying has become a huge issue within the last couple of years. It’s become so huge that people are being criminally charged with the offense (check out http://blogs.babble.com/strollerderby/2011/05/05/the-takeaway-from-the-phoebe-prince-case-speak-up/ for more on that).

According to the National Crime Prevention Council, 43 percent of teenagers have been the victim of cyber bullying. Over 50 percent felt anger regarding the bullying while 33 percent felt hurt. 15 percent felt fearful. What is being done to make children and young adults feel this way? Read on.

Direct Attacks vs. Proxy Attacks:

As mentioned in a previous post, there are types of ways children and teenagers can be cyber bullied. They are direct and attacks and proxy attacks. Direct attacks are when messages are sent directly to the victim. Cyber bullying by proxy occurs when others are used to bully the victim.

Direct Attacks:

As mentioned earlier, direct attacks occur when a cyber bully sends messages directly to the victim. Direct attacks can come in a variety of forms. The bully can send threatening or unkind instant messages or texts to the victim. He or she can write mean things or post unflattering pictures on the internet (websites, blogs, social networking sites such as Facebook, etc). Polls and quizzes can also be created to humiliate and torment the victim. Some cyber bullies even create blogs and websites to threaten, intimidate or humiliate the victim.

There’s more.  More tech savvy cyber bullies can send viruses and spyware to destroy or hack the victim’s computer. Some of these viruses and programs can be used to remotely control the victim’s computer or erase the hard drive. In addition to this, some cyber bullies will impersonate the victim. He or she may send hurtful or inappropriate emails to the victim’s friends, families and even teachers. They may also use the victim’s email address or personal information to purchase items off the internet or sign up for porn websites. This could ruin the victim’s credit, character and get them in trouble with their parents, school or place of employment.

Proxy Attacks:

Cyber bullying by proxy occurs when the bully uses others to help get the victim in trouble. Proxy attacks generally begin with the bully hacking into the victim’s email, social networking site, or instant messaging accounts. He or she then sends rude or hurtful messages to the victim’s contacts who in return get angry and send angry messages back. Sometimes the bully will change the victim’s password so he or she cannot access their account.

In more serious cases, cyber bullies will post the victim’s online and offline information to a variety of unflattering groups such as child molester, hate groups or rape fantasy sites. In addition to this information, the bully will post an inflammatory message to the site or something to attract attention. The bully will then wait for others to respond and watch them contact or harass the victim. 

Examples of Direct Attacks and Proxy Attacks:

Direct Attack: Andre is mad that Keisha broke up with him. He is so angry and hurt by her actions that he decides to make her pay. He sends her threatening messages stating that she’ll be sorry for hurting him. Whenever she logs on to Facebook chat or AIM, Andre sends Keisha multiple messages that say slut, whore, bitch, skank and other nasty names. He creates a website about Keisha calling her a lying, cheating slut. He sends a naked picture Keisha sent him while they were together to all their friends and family.

Proxy Attack: Jill is upset that Kelly didn’t invite her to her birthday party. To get back at Kelly, Jill hacks her Facebook account and posts mean things on her best friend, Rebecca’s, wall. When Kelly logs on to Facebook she sees hundreds of messages from Rebecca and her friends and doesn’t know why. She tries to explain, but Rebecca and her friends don’t believe her. They report her to Facebook and tell her parents. She loses her account and gets grounded. Mary laughs at the turn of events and believes Justice has prevailed.

However, this isn’t enough for Rebecca. Jill was supposed to be her best friend and she betrayed her. She wants to get even with her. Rebecca then uses Jill’s email address to create an x-rated adult dating profile. She posts Jill’s address and phone number describing in vivid detail Jill’s rape fantasies. Over the next few days Rebecca plans dates with men who share Jill’s interest. They call Jill’s phone and leave her lewd messages. One guy even comes to her house while her parents aren’t home.

Although cyber bullies are only using words, they are causing just as much damage as a physical assault. The words and actions of cyber bullies can cause real damage and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

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