Here are two true stories that illustrate the emotional impact of cyberbullying in the lives of young teenagers.
A 13 year-old girl from Virginia:
When I still had AOL, this one guy asked me how I looked and wanted to know about my body and stuff and I just flat out told him leave me alone!!! I would have reported him but AOL wouldn’t even let me block him without parental permission so he bullied me and stuff online whenever I got on. I felt horrible. That was over four years ago and I still remember every thing he said to me. Every exact word. I felt awful. I hated it. I wanted to tell my parents but I was afraid that they would never let me chat again and I know that’s how a lot of other kids feel. It is a bad feeling knowing that people that don’t know you are judging you.
A 12 year-old girl from Michigan:
The internet is not a place to harass others or hurt them. The internet is supposed to be a place that is safe and fun for people, not a place to be criticized or harassed. I used to be bullied at school frequently and I was sometimes hurt so badly that I had to fake sick at school just so I could go home. One girl actually told me she would come and murder my parents and kill me personally. She made me cry so hard that I threw up. So, I know firsthand what its like to be bullied beyond your imagination.1
Thousands of teenagers around the world have stories like this, and most of their parents are largely unaware. The most common reaction of parents in the face of such problems is to pull the plug, and most kids are well aware of this. So when issues arise they tend to turn to other teenagers, rather than their parents. Your child may have faced some form of cyberbullying and you would most likely be completely unaware of it.
Internet Safety Podcast Interview with Bill Belsey, President of Cyberbullying.org