Since the beginning of time there has always been bullying. However, the Internet has allowed for greater ease for bullies. Bullying is about power and control through the destruction of a target. There is a thrill for many bullies who gain power over their peers. Bullies who use technology to harm others create a barrier that provides more power as the target is not there to defend them self. Another aspect of bullying behind a screen is the feeling of invisibility and thinking that it is anonymous. Fortunately, there are ways to trace the information back to the bully thus possibly deterring some potential perpetrators. The increase in cyber bullying merges with greater use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices by young people (2012, Mann).
A girl who was in a very vulnerable age bracket where image is everything and peer acceptance is at an all-time high. This phase starts around junior high school where friends’ opinions carry the most weight. A mother who knew the girl posed as an attractive young guy on-line flirting and creating a relationship with her. After she gained the girl’s trust and affection on MySpace the relationship changed dramatically. Messages started to be posted about her being fat and other horrible names (2007, abcnews.go.com). The final impact was when the boy told her they would not be friends. Heart broken, devastated the young girl took her own life as she was feeling intense stress and frustration. They found the perpetrator to an adult female with a daughter in the girl’s class. She said something about needing to find out what the girl would say about her daughter (2007, abcnews.go.com). The mother was acquitted and the three misdemeanors were dropped (2009, Ng).
For this example, there is a greater basis for understanding the emotional impact of cyber bullying. The victim is not the only to pay emotionally, but in this case, it left survivors devastated, hurt, and feelings of immense guilt. A parent wishing they had been more involved or a best friend who wished she would have been able to save her.
“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart to him; God is a refuge for us. Psalms 62:5-8.”
A father and mother used their pain and hurt to bring awareness to the impact and devastation of cyber bullying. “Some would call it bullycide or even cyber
bullycide. I just call it a huge hole in my heart that will never heal (2003, Halligan).” His perspective after finding his son dead was completely life changing. He went on his son’s AOL IM account and found that he had endured bully torture from classmates. He went from a boy full of joy to being miserably depressed. Followed by a mean trick that broke Ryan’s heart when he learned that the girl he thought he was dating was not interested in him and said she would never date a looser like him. This was embarrassing and devastating for Ryan. He had his heart broken. This was so cruel and utilized technology as a weapon to harm. “Nothing can ever bring back our Ryan. Nothing will ever heal our broken hearts. But we hope by sharing the personal details of our tremendous loss, another family will have been spared a lifelong sentence to this kind of pain (2003, Halligan).”
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalms 143:7.”
Many parents watch helplessly as their child starts losing sleep, having headaches, ulcers, hair loss, live in fear, increase in stress and suffer from depression. There is so much devastation caused by bullies and so many want to place the responsibility on the victim stating why don’t they turn off the computer or stop playing that game. It is not that easy they want to be accepted and are searching for someone out there to be a friend. No child ever wants to watch their friends turn on them. No one asks to be bullied, no one wants to be bullied. The impact of bullying can last a lifetime and continue to haunt the present.
“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. Psalms 55:22.”
The good news, there is a God who is loving and wants to be in your life. He can calm the storm and provide peace during times of trouble.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27”
Diaz, Jonny. (2009). More Beautiful You. Retrieved from Elyrics.net
Halligan (2003, Oct. 7). Ryan’s Story: If We Only Knew, If He Only Told Us. Retrieved from http://www.ryanpatrickhalligan.org
Mann, D. (2010, June 6). Emotional Troubles for ‘Cyberbullies’ and Victims. Study shows Mental and Physical impact on Victims and Bullies. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20100706/emotional-troubles-for-cyberbullies-and-victims
Ng, Jansen. (2009, July 3). Missouri Mother Acquitted in Megan Meier MySpace Cyberbullying case. Retrieved from http://www.dailytech.com/Missouri+Mother+Acquitted+in+Megan+Meier+MySpace+Cyberbullying+Case+/article15594.htm
Parents: Cyber Bullying Led to Teen’s Suicide ( 2007, Nov. 19). Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=3882520&page=2#.UeIvpxb8-2M