When I grew up, there was one place where I could go, and I knew I was safe. Safe from being bullied, from being picked on, it was my own oasis. This place was my room. Teenagers today don’t have a place where they can go, and be unconnected. They can’t. If they are digitally connected, they are at risk for being bullied. This asks a question how can we help a generation live in a digital world? How can we help students to stand up to cyberbullying?
Here are a few things that stand out from the infographic on cyberbullies from onlinecollege.org.
1. 81% of teenagers say that online bulling is easier to get away with. How is this possible? Teens today resonate with social justice issues, and yet 1 in 3 students are being threatened online. How can we help students to become the whistleblowers of what is happening in their schools?
Also, how can we help parents to protect their kids from being set up in a situation where their kids will be bullied online. I think of online programs like ask.fm, and other things where I often see students setting themselves up for being bullied. Just because a online service is out there doesn’t necessarily mean a teenager needs to be on it.
2. Face-to-face communication between teens is becoming unnecessary. I would love to know the stats of how many friends that you have on Facebook would actually call you a friend. Marshall McLuhan said, “We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.” I have to wonder how our iPhones and other technology is shaping an entire generation. We need to have goals for how we use technology. Face-to-face communication is the key. We need to help students prioritize building real relationships in a digital world.
3. 1 in 5 cyberbullied teens think about suicide. This is alarming. Warning lights should be going off in your head. Teenagers in your youth ministry, in my youth ministry are thinking about ending it all because of a photo, or a conversation, or something online.
I was talking with a student last week about getting bullied at school, and I was asking her if there was any way she could talk to someone at school? I get a sense that students feel completely helpless when it comes to bulling. We need to help walk teenagers through pain and suffering in their high school years.
With that said, our youth ministries need to be a place where students can breath, where they can go and be accepted and loved. My youth ministry has zero tolerance for bullying. Zero! If someone bullies another student, they will be dealt with, and we have asked students to not come back until they apologize to that student.
What else stands out to you from this infographic on cyberbullying? Leave a comment below?