As Cyberbullying Increases, So Do Resources to Stop It

According to the 2013 Youth Behavior Surveillance Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15% of students in the United States have been bullied online.  And now there are a multitude of resources to help these victims, writes Alexandra Pannoni for US News.

Cybersmile is an online community started in 2010 by Dan Raisbeck and Scott Freemen after their children were bullied online.

Cybersmile offers youth multiple ways of getting help, including a 24-hour Twitter helpline offering instant advice.

“Through education, awareness and support we aim to combat the growing threat of cyberbullying and create a much safer, more enjoyable digital environment. We want to provide the people affected by online hate campaigns with the tools and coping strategies to aid and enable their swift recovery. This vision is at the core of Cybersmile and we are committed to creating a more considerate and caring future for all.”

The foundation recently held the second annual Stop Cyberbullying Day, in an effort to create awareness in the community.  The day was highlighted by a playlist of positive tunes created by One Direction for the event.

The Cyberbulling Research Center is another such online presence, offering advice for victims of online bullying.

Justin Patchin, co-director of the site, believes it is important for children to confide in someone who will help them deal with the issue.  This can include a counselor, teacher, coach, or even a friend.

“If I tell Mom that I’m being cyberbullied on Facebook, Mom might just respond by saying, ‘Just don’t go on Facebook,’ or ‘Don’t use your cellphone.’ Of course, neither of those things solve the cyberbullying problem,” he says.

Patchin co-wrote the book “Words Wound: Delete Cyberbullying and Make Kindness Go Viral” which offers advice on how to cope with bullying and gives victims resources to go to, including the companion website, Wordswound.org.

Cyberbullying is an issue that is brought to light on other platforms as well.

Daniel Bishoff for Game Revolution reports that developers of the game High School Story have also incorporated the issues of cyberbullying, eating disorders and body image into gameplay.  In the game’s most recent update, the character Mia “overhears an insensitive comment about her physique” and begins to follow an unhealthy eating lifestyle.

According to game developers, the focus of the game is on being happy with yourself, and having empathy for others instead of bullying them.

The game is very popular and the developers constantly receive feedback from game players, letting them know just how helpful the game has been.

For example, a girl who’d just moved to a new school in another country contacted us because she was feeling a lot of pressure to change who she was in order to fit in. But she said that after playing High School Story, she realized that she didn’t have to look and act like everyone else in order to feel good about herself. We’re always touched and amazed by these responses, and feel very lucky to be able to impart these sorts of messages with our game.