NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There are a lot of reasons for kids to get excited about heading back to school, but bullying is not one of them.
For many kids and teenagers, back-to-school could also mean back to being bullied, both in-person and online, reports CBS2’s Dave Carlin.
“Mean comments around social media and stuff like that,” explains incoming freshman Charlotte Celiberti.
“I think a lot of people do it to make them feel better about themselves,” said Laura Gudmann, also a freshman this year. “Some kids get very depressed from it.”
With a rise in social media use among youth groups, and textbooks being replaced with computers, experts say more kids are finding themselves hooked on the internet – correlating to a rise in cyberbullying, sometimes even making fake social media accounts to spread hate.
“I have seen a problem, mostly on social media,” said incoming sophomore Catherine Nassar.
Nassar says teenagers often hide behind their hurtful internet comments.
“I think when you’re saying things face to face, you feel what you’re saying more,” she said.
According to StopBullying.gov, often kids are targets of bullying because they’re overweight or underweight, wear different clothing or are unable to afford what kids consider “cool.” The website lists signs of cyberbullying including:
- Noticeable increases or decreases in device use, including texting.
- A child exhibits emotional responses (laughter, anger, upset) to what is happening on their device.
- A child hides their screen or device when others are near, and avoids discussion about what they are doing on their device.
- Social media accounts are shut down or new ones appear.
- A child starts to avoid social situations, even those that were enjoyed in the past.
- A child becomes withdrawn or depressed, or loses interest in people and activities.
Touro College clinical psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere says on the internet, parents should be aware that anyone can fall victim.
“Statistics show at least 3 out of 5 kids are cyberbullied, so it’s important that they work with their kids about having etiquette,” he said.
Gardere says parents should always monitor what their kids are doing online and realize certain groups are more likely to be impacted. Statistically, cyberbullying affects girls more than boys.
“Girls have a higher social IQ than boys, they mature quicker so, therefore, they may be more at risk of having emotional issues,” he said.
Gardere also recommends parents keep an honest dialogue about how they expect their child to use the internet – using it for things like homework, not harassment.