Understanding Cyber Bullying

Russel Kule, Camila Sposito, & Lesley Barrientos, Staff Writers

According to NPR.org, 13% to 18% of teens with stress and or anxiety use self harm as a way of coping with their problems. Burning or cutting are the two most common ways of self harm. However, people usually don’t expect those being bullied to be their own victims as well. As a new way to ease the pain of potential harmful comments, teens are developing a new mechanism for self harm. They are using social media to put out hate comments on their own posts.

If one is getting put down by somebody else, why would they inflict the same damage on themselves rather than trying to avoid it? Although it’s a hard thought to absorb at first, there are reasons behind it that can bring this light. Child psychologist, Sheryl Gonzalez-Zeigler, talked about her recent patient who was gay and felt pressured for being a gay teen in todays society. Because nof that, the patient would comment things like “I think you’re creepy and gay,” and “don’t sit next to me again” on her own posts. She thought that by doing that, she was keeping bullies from commenting, since comments were already put on there by her.
Some people, most likely adults, find that digital self harm is just for attention seeking teens, and they’re not wrong about that. Sometimes teens seek support, but are too afraid to reach out to people themselves. This has resulted in them cyberbullying themselves to stand out to others and have their peers go up to them and give their moral support. Dr. Englander’s observations and studies show that, “It can be difficult to come forward and ask for help when you’re struggling with emotional issues”. Teens have developed a fear of speaking up and now choose to speak to whoever they can attract with their comments. This way, they feel like the person they are talking to actually take their feelings into consideration. These issues seem to be taboo to many people, so these kids are often ignored. School guidance counselors are starting to take in this information, and become more aware of the situations going on in these teens’ minds.

Revere High School guidance counselor, Mr. Kimbrough, was asked a couple questions on the topic. During the beginning of the interview, Mr.Kimbrough was asked what he thought about about teens cyber bullying themselves. He expressed that he didn’t actually know about teens cyber bullying themselves, and asked them to further explain the question, saying “I don’t know what that means, can you explain more.” Those exact words are what make it evident that not everyone is alert to this problem, and there are things to be cleared up about this topic. Towards the end of the interview, Kimbrough mentioned that he believes teachers and staff should be more aware, and should be keeping a look out for each student. Just by spreading the awareness to one person could have a small impact, and teens could start to feel more comfortable asking for help when they need it.

Cyberbullying is a sad case, and it’s something many teens go through. However, teens are now flipping the script by cyberbullying themselves. Guidance counselor Mr. Kimbrough called it a “cry for help,” and said that teens that cyberbully themselves need awareness on how to use social media properly. It’s something that adults don’t prepare for whether its their child, friend, or student. It’s not their fault that they don’t know about it, because it just sounds so out of the ordinary. However, hearing the story and reasoning of why teens do this to themselves gives us more understanding on it, and motivates us to find a way to bring awareness to this rare, but real and occurring way of cyberbullying.