The schoolyard bully of yesteryear now has high tech tools at his disposal when it comes to making someone else’s life miserable. Cyberbullying involves individuals harassing others (typically, but not limited to, teenagers harassing teenagers) using various technological means. For example, cyberbullies might send threatening text messages or inappropriate material to a schoolmate, or post damaging information about a schoolmate online.
The cyberbullying trend is escalating, with recent studies suggesting that nearly half of all kids in grades 4 through 8 have been bullied or threatened online. The most common mechanisms for bullying are email, chat rooms, and text messages. Nearly half of all kids who report cyberbullying do not know the identity of the perpetrator.8
In one of the most tragic cases, a 13-year-old girl in Missouri committed suicide after suffering verbal and emotional abuse at the hands of a teenage boy she had grown close to after “meeting” on MySpace. Her online “friend” turned out to be the mother of a neighborhood schoolmate with whom the victim had struggles at school.9