By Joyce Hale
Today’s electronic devices are becoming the tools of choice with modern day bullies. For those who were not brave enough to publicly torment a student at their locker or a co-worker at the water-cooler, cyberbullying has appeal.
Electronic communications are increasingly available to younger, technically capable students and readily available at an age when bullying is most prevalent. Computers and cell phones are easy to use, provide anonymity and offer 24/7 access. Those who suffer from public humiliation may find no refuge when discovering that Facebook postings, emails and tweets follow them home. What might have been known to a handful of individuals in the past can now be transmitted widely.
In a 2011 Consumers Report survey conducted in the US, it was found that one million children were harassed, threatened or subjected to other forms of cyberbullying on Facebook during that year. One in ten parents says they have had a problem. The study shows girls are more likely to be targeted.
Some victims or defenders of victims are now using the Internet to post the offenses and turn the tables on the tormenter. This kind of support for the victim may help to make the bullying less socially tolerated. Although, parental involvement and peer influence are the greatest deterrents.
The League of Women Voters of Washington County and Mental Health America are bringing together social workers, school professionals, parents and leaders of youth groups to encourage a community-wide discussion on cyberbullying. A greater awareness of the dangers is needed to help parents and schools cope with the increasing incidents. The program will provide a panel to discuss the issue. Resource tables will be setup for individuals to discuss their concerns and take home materials on the issue. Leaders of youth organizations are encouraged to share the information with their members.
The program will take place on Tues., October 16 at 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at the Holt Middle School, 2365 N. Rupple Rd., Fayetteville. For more information contact Libby Wheeler, 521-1158. The program is open to the public and will offer educational credit hours to teachers, school staff and mental health professionals.
Presenters are Dr. Erica Baughman, Ozark Guidance Center, Detective David Williams, Fayetteville Police Dept., Kelly Zega, Cox Communications, Mike Mason, Holt Middle School principal, and Grayce Randolph, V.I.P. Club at Fayetteville High School.