More than half of all American teenagers have experienced online abuse, commonly known as cyber bullying. Unlike other common problems such as drug abuse and reckless behavior, the hazards of cyber bullying are not widely understood by most people. Here are some facts that everybody should know about this dangerous trend:

What is cyber bullying? Cyber bullying is any type of abusive behavior by one minor against another that involves electronic communication, such as cell phones or the Internet. Some common examples of cyber bullying include spreading lies about someone on social media websites, hacking into someone’s personal email, posing as someone else in order to turn others against that person, or making private information or embarrassing photos public.

How common is cyber bulling? Nearly 1 in every 4 minors in the United States has been a victim of cyber bullying, but only 1 in 10 will tell an adult that they have been bullied. Statistics show that girls are more likely than boys to be involved in cyber bullying, both as bullies and as targets of bullying.

Why is cyber bullying dangerous? Becoming the target of cyber bullying can significantly harm a person’s self-esteem. It may cause extreme embarrassment and difficulty participating in school. It can also lead to severe depression and anxiety. Statistics have shown that minors who have been victimized by cyber bullying are more likely to consider or attempt suicide.

What can we do to combat cyber bullying? The strongest weapon against cyber bulling is education. Minors need to be aware of how they can protect themselves from bullies, and parents need to be alert to the warning signs of digital abuse. Schools can also work to educate students about how to recognize cyber bullying and how to report it.

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