Editorial: We must untangle bullying on web

By Kim Gillespie

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Bullying has, sadly, come a long way. Technology has reached across cities, nations and the world, into living rooms and bedrooms and created one gigantic community of communities.

Where once certain types of bullying may have been confined to public and semi-public spaces such as school yards and workplaces, now its tentacles can reach your own private spaces.

And it can be done from the shadows by anonymous creeps, trolls and cowards, sitting at distant keyboards or tapping at their smartphones.

Does the fact that a bully isn't in their face make it any better for the victim?

Much as in classic horror movies, the unseen threat can be so much more menacing.

I'm sure most cyberbullies only do it because they can do it easily and anonymously. Maybe those same cyberbullies think taunting and tormenting others online is somehow less damaging than in real life.

They'd be wrong. The internet is the world's biggest machine, and we're often letting our kids at the controls with minimal training.

They're posting all sorts of personal titbits oblivious to the eternal nature of that data.

Their being online gives bullies 24/7 access they never had in the school yard. One aspect of cyberbullying is to embarrass the victim, so be aware your child may be unwilling at first to share their concerns with you.

Maybe some information or pictures are being circulated and they don't want you to know about it. Or maybe it could be as simple as they think you'll take away their computer or phone.

Remember, cyberbullies can and should be held to account. But it won't happen unless victims are willing to speak up.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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