Cyberbullying Statistics & American Schools

OMG Ikr lol by SummerSkyePhotography from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

OMG Ikr lol by SummerSkyePhotography from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Anyone who knows me knows that preventing cyberbullying is a topic I’m passionate about, especially since I experienced it myself. I wish I could make more people (of all ages) put down their phones and behave. I’ve already had to read the riot act to one 13 year-old this year because he created a thoughtless post on Instagram that could have gotten him in a lot more trouble than being confronted by a couple of angry friends and their parents.

Earlier this year I met football hall of fame member Nick Lowery and learned about his efforts with this Champions Against Bullying program. My discussions with him inspired me to look up some of the more recent statistics about cyberbullying:

Over 25% of adolescents have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the internet.

Mean, hurtful comments and spreading rumors are the most common type of cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying victims are more likely to have low self-esteem and to contemplate suicide.

Reasons cyberbullies said they engaged in cyberbullying
58% – They deserved it (This sounds very middle school)
58% – To get back at someone
28% – For fun or entertainment
21% – To embarrass them
14% – To be mean
11% – To show off to friends

Bullying appears to be worst in middle school. 44% of middle schools report bullying problems compared to 20% of high schools and elementary schools.

Schools that have anti-bullying programs reduce bullying 50%.

It’s because of these statistics that this is my general message for young people about cyberbullying:

Think before you post. What you think is funny or justified in the moment may be a post or text you regret later. But once you create a post or send a text, you don’t have control over it. You can never completely delete it from the internet or servers. You never know if a post is going to go viral or when a post will follow you around for a long time.

More information about what parents can do to help keep their kids safe online is available here.

If you want to chat more about this topic, feel free to connect with me on TwitterFacebookYouTubeLinkedIn, or you can email me. You can also check out my post on what parents can do to address and prevent cyberbullying.

Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.

How to Prevent Cyberbullying – Tips for Parents

Hopscotch by Dean McCoy Photography from Flickr

Hopscotch by Dean McCoy Photography from Flickr

It’s back to school time and most parents are rejoicing that their little angels are going to be at school 6-8 hours a day for the next 9 months. They’re going to be spending a lot more time than their peer group than during the summer so it might be a good time to review your family’s rules regarding where and how they spend their time online.

I know a lot of parents are concerned about cyberbullying – from a victim and perpetrator perspective. Here are my tips to help parents prevent their child from being involved in a cyberbullying situation.

1. Wherever your children are active online, you need to be there too.
Whatever social media sites your kids are using, you need to have an account and be connected to them, to at least be aware of how and to whom they are communicating. There should be a clear expectation that they can’t create a profile on a site or add an app to their phone without your permission.

2. Address behavior where your child may be bullying others or being bullied.
Have high expectations for your child’s behavior. They can have fun with their friends, but it shouldn’t cross the line into being cruel. You don’t want them to develop the habit of shooting their mouth off whenever they want online.

Likewise, be understanding and empathetic if your child is being targeted by their peers for being different. Support them and don’t ignore it. Work with them to decide the best way to deal with it.

3. Educate your children about communicating with strangers online.
Each family is free to set their own rules, but in general, I don’t recommend that parents allow their children to form relationships with people online that they don’t know in real life.

Carter Law Firm's Postcards

Carter Law Firm’s Postcards

4. Educate your children about the potential effects of every post.
Once a post is out there, you can never fully take it back. It will always be on a server somewhere. Even if the original post is deleted, you have no control over whether others took a screenshot or shared it with others before it was deleted. My rule of thumb is never post anything online that you wouldn’t put on the front page of the newspaper. The same idea should apply to sending text messages and taking pictures with your phone.

5. Know how to access your child’s cell phone.
I generally support respecting your children’s privacy but parents should be able to check their child’s text messages, pictures, and apps if a situation warrants it.

6. Cut off the bully’s access to your child.
There are ways to block users and report abusive people on every social media site that I know of. One of the best ways to help a child begin to feel better is to cut off the bully’s ability to communicate with them. If they’re being bullied via text message, consider changing their number.

7. If your child is being abused, report it to the appropriate social media forum, email provider, or cell phone service provider.
The terms of service have rules against using their forum to harass others and a social media site has the authority to suspend an abusive person’s account if they think it’s necessary.

8. Keep a record of the abuse.
There are times it makes sense to pursue a civil lawsuit or get law enforcement involved. If you do that, you will have to prove that the harassment occurred. A court can be sympathetic to your story, but they cannot punish the wrongdoer without sufficient evidence. Take screenshots of abusive posts on social media sites and don’t delete the abusive emails or text messages.

If you prefer to hear me talk about this topic, I made a video of cyberbullying tips for parents.

If you want more information about the legalities of social media, please check out my book The Legal Side of Blogging: How Not to get Sued, Fired, Arrested, or Killed. If you need information or advice about a situation involving your child, please contact a social media attorney in your community.

You can connect with me on TwitterGoogle+FacebookYouTubeLinkedIn, or you can email me.
You can also subscribe to the Carter Law Firm newsletter.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.


Why I Opened A Solo Law Firm

Office Coffee by Mauricio Lima

Office Coffee by Mauricio Lima

It’s still a bit surreal to think in the last four years I went to law school, passed the bar exam, opened a law firm, and have goals of becoming a leader in my niche areas of practice.

When I started law school, I was spoon-fed the idea that every lawyer should aspire to clerk for a judge and work at a big law firm with the goal of becoming a partner. When I started working in the legal field, I realized that I didn’t want any of that. I don’t want to be trapped in an office 60 hours/week, working on cases I don’t care about, and setting myself up to have a severe chemical dependency problem, a heart attack, or a nervous breakdown before turning 40.

I’ve been a blogger for the last two years. During that time, I’ve developed passions for intellectual property, internet law, flash mob law, and preventing cyberbullying. I also had the pleasure of working in the Innovation Advancement Program at Arizona State University where I worked with entrepreneurs to get their endeavors off the ground. It was such a joy to help them breathe life into their dreams.

When people ask me where I work, I love that I get to respond, “In my laptop.” I have a virtual law office, which means I can work almost anywhere that I have wi-fi and a power outlet. I am not encumbered by a formal office or staff. With this autonomy comes more options for myself and my clients.

When I reflect on why I decided to open Carter Law Firm, one word comes to mind: “freedom.” I have the law career I’ve always wanted. I get to work on cases I’m passionate about and with interesting clients. It also gives me time to be a public speaker on legal issues and to blog posts and ebooks.

Opening this firm is the beginning of an incredible adventure. I’m excited for what’s to come.