Cyber bullying takes a new form

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. There's been a lot of talk in recent years about the amount of online bullying in children, but now there's a new twist.

More than one in three young people have experienced cyber threats online and over 25% if adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the Internet.

Despite the potential damage of cyber bullying, it's alarmingly common among adolescents and teens. Mean, hurtful comments and spreading rumors are the most common type of cyber bullying and using someone's name isn't the only way bullies are targeting their victims. Now, they're adding their picture to it, creating an extra layer of humiliation.

Jami Moore is one of the vice principals at Grand Junction High School and deals with students who've been bullied on a regular basis. Now, a new form of bullying has evolved on the Internet, where victim's pictures are used along with their name.

"Now there is a face with all of those comments and so that person is intimidated no matter where they go," said Moore.

On social media site like Facebook and Twitter, victims are put on 'blast' and with bullying anyone can become the victim.

"They just say things and it's mostly girls. I haven't seen a whole lot of blasting on the boys side...the boys will blast the girls," said Moore.

Cyber bullies also have a false sense of security because they hide behind the mask of the World Wide Web, making it easier to target people and say hurtful things.

"People say things online that they would never say, if they had to look at the reaction," said Moore.

Carol Coburn, another Vice Principal at Grand Junction High School says the consequences of bullying can be severe.

“These are students who may be depressed or on the verge of feeling very unstable in their life anyway and it can lead to very dire consequences," said Coburn.

When does cyber bullying cross the line of the law?

“The harassment essentially is when you give a very specific and direct threat, and then it can be harassment. If it's just sort of a broad angry statement then it likely wouldn't qualify for harassment and it may not be against the law," said Heather Benjamin, spokesperson for the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office.

In District 51, officials strive to educate parents and students when it comes to the dangers of the Internet.

“They should be saying and what they should not be saying, what they should be posting and what they shouldn't be posting," said Coburn.

The best way for teens and adolescents to protect themselves is to always be mindful of what you're posting.

“To remember that it's very public anybody can see it, even if you block, they can go in as somebody else and that it has a lasting impact,” said Moore.

Officials with Grand Junction High School say what a student puts online can affect college scholarship applications and even future employment.

If you ever feel threatened or concerned about your safety from an online post, Mesa County Sheriff’s Office Officials say you should absolutely report it and let the matter be investigated.

Many schools and workplaces have their own policies, when it comes to bullying and most will not tolerate it.


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