Did you know that 13 million kids from ages 6 to 17 are cyberbullied? In Hawai'i, one-third of kids are cyberbullied online. With these alarming numbers, people should become more aware of what is going on in their own community. People should be concerned, because, as technology grows, so will the number of people getting bullied online.
People do not even think twice about posting something hurtful online anymore. This behavior has been accepted, because nothing is being done to stop them. The number of people being bullied online will only grow if nothing is done to stop it.
Cyberbullying is anything from impersonating someone online to posting cruel messages, photos or videos, sending angry or vulgar messages, or forwarding personal messages. It is basically anything that can hurt or embarrass someone online.
Cyberbullying happens 24/7. Unplugging your computer or turning off your cell phone will not make the bully go away. Bullies follow you wherever you go; there is no escape. Cyberbullying victims feel more embarrassment than victims of normal bullying because witnesses are not limited online.
Cyberbullying has become more common due to the widespread use of technology. As Internet influences grow, so will cyberbullying. Three-fourths of kids today are online. Most kids do not understand how hurtful and damaging their behavior is because they were never given consequences. Cyberbullying is a learned behavior, and now that it is so common, everyone is caving in to being a bully online.
There are solutions to cyberbullying, such as filing a complaint or blocking the bully. But, do not retaliate; it will only make it worse and you will be just as wrong as the bully. Talk to someone, because you are not alone and there is more power in numbers.
If you see someone being bullied online, take a stand and say something about it. You can show the victim that they are not alone and that there are people who care about them.
In Hawai'i, there are laws that prohibit cyberbullying, so if you report incidents, you can stop them.
Editor's note: Cassidy Cortez's Girl Scout Gold Award Project is about cyberbullying. As another way to raise awareness in the Maui community, she submitted this commentary to the Maui Weekly.