With Bullying Awareness Week (November 14-20) nearly upon us, Kids Help Phone is drawing attention to cyberbullying, a form of bullying that is witnessed by most people who spend time online, and one element of a solution that may have been overlooked: the bystander. We all see them – the insults and name calling at the end of a news story, a blog post, or on online forums; cruel emails and texts; the posting of embarrassing photos on Facebook groups; and online gossiping are all examples of cyberbullying.
Kids Help Phone wants to increase the efforts to raise awareness of the issue of cyberbullying and stop peer cruelty, and mobilize bystanders to take a stand since this can be an effective solution to reduce bullying.
Kids Help Phone is inviting everyone – youth and adults – to stand up to cyberbullying by updating their Facebook status, email signatures, Twitter feeds – any of the preferred vehicles of e-communications – with the message I will not tolerate hurtful comments online. Cyberbullying will be reported to site administrators. Join me in taking a stand.
- A September 2011-released Statistics Canada study reveals that about 1 in 10 adults reported that a child aged 8 to 17 living in their household had been a victim of cyber-bullying.
- A recent Kids Help Phone survey asked kids if they had been cyberbullied: 65% said yes.
- In another independent Kids Help Phone online survey, 35 per cent of kids said they witness bullying on a daily basis, including at school, after school, and online.
- While research indicates 85% of bullying incidents are witnessed by other students, bystanders try to stop the bullying only 11% to 22% of the time; studies have shown that bullying stops within 10 seconds more than half of the time when someone intervenes.
- Contrary to popular belief, children who witness a bullying incident do not play a neutral role. Research suggests that bystanders may actually encourage and perpetuate the bullying problem; this occurs either directly, through actively joining in the bullying, or indirectly, by not taking a stand against the bully.
- Research also suggests that witnessing their peers endure verbal or physical abuse can also cause distress in the bystander.
As one becomes brave enough to stand up to bullying, others will find the courage to do the same. Kids Help Phone invites everyone to be part of a new social dynamic.
“Empowering kids to stand up to bullying is not easy,” says Shannon Freud, professional counsellor at Kids Help Phone. “We receive many calls from young people worried about losing their social standing or becoming targets themselves. But bystanders have power, and reminding kids that they have a choice can help build kids’ self-confidence and self-respect to stand up for what they believe is right.”
Kids Help Phone’s professional counsellors are available for media interviews to talk about this anti-cyberbullying campaign and provide information and tips about all types of bullying.