Perhaps, one of the most famous cyberbullying cases involved a Rutgers Freshman, Tyler Clementi a talented musician who happened to be gay. In 2010, Tyler was humiliated and shamed when his roommate Dharun Ravi activated a secret video camera to record Tyler’s sexual relations and streamed it to others on the campus. This cyber-harassment lead to Tyler’s suicide as he jumped off the George Washington Bridge.
All cyberbullying is shameful and according to cyberbullying.org., the number of U.S. children who experience cyberbullying is on the rise. The pandemic is creating the perfect cocktail for cyberbullying: many kids, unable to attend school, are learning virtually at home. They are isolated, lonely. The conditions are rife for your child to be cyberbullied. 87% of young people report to have witnessed cyberbullying occurring online.
Why Cyberbullying Is So Insidious 24/7
- Users can remain anonymous and hide behind their screens.
- Because of social media, the cyberstalker can reach a much larger audience, thus creating more venom to the individual.
- The stalker can use language on the computer that he would never have the guts to say face-to-face.
- The computer will spread the news faster.
- Every time the victim logs in, he sees the negative, hurtful words.
- The fall-out may make the victim depressed and hopeless.
What Parents Can Do: Share with Your Child
- Tell your child to be natural. Never impersonate others.
- Keep personal information private.
- Don’t give out location or password to anyone.
- Create a strong password: not the name of your dog, and/or easy numbers such as 1234, for example.
- To feel safe, you can block certain individuals.
- Tell your child that he should discuss with you or a trusted adult the alarming behavior online.
On the Tyler Clementi Foundation website set up in Tyler’s honor, there is a pdf guide that has specific tips, time limits on digital devices, steps to follow if your child is a victim of cyberbullying, weekly check-ins or rules about specific social media programs.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.