Parents should know children's language
There's a new bully in town-cyberbully

Wanda English Burnett, Editor


Don’t understand? It’s a simple message to a friend in acronyms and text messaging shorthand. It means, “How’s It Going? As A Friend - May I Have Your Attention Please - Take Care of Yourself - Know What I Mean - Later.

While the language may seem foreign to some, most teenagers are very familiar with it - they can text a message faster than you can decipher what the meaning is.

The new language of the technology age of today is seen commonly whenever people are online, which can include cell phones, PDAs, websites, blogs, instant messaging - IM, and more.
Communication in any language can be a good thing or it can be harmful. It’s the person doing the communicating that sets the tone for the conversation. With 17 million kids ages 12-17 using the Internet, a new term has erupted: cyberbullying. The difference between playgound bullying and cyberbullying is the setting. The playground is of course out in the open, but the cyberspace is, somewhat anonymous. With the beginning of the new school year only days away, the face of bullying could be more than a confrontation on the playground.

People sometimes say things on the Internet or through a text message on a cellular phone they would never say in a face-to-face confrontation. They feel invisible. It’s just them and their keyboard and computer or phone. However, according to information from the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use, the idea of being invisible is false. What some cyberspace users may not know is that they are leaving little “cyberfootprints” wherever they go. Their behavior can be traced.
Sgt. Noel Houze Jr., Public Information Officer for the Indiana State Police, Versailles Post, noted that in some cases criminal charges can actually be filed after detectives find Internet fingerprints.
What defines cyberbullying?

According to Nancy E. Willard, M.S., J.D., it is being “cruel to others by sending or posting harmful material or engaging in other forms of social cruelty using the Internet or other digital technologies.” Cyberthreats are “either direct threats or distressing material that raises concerns that a young person may be considering committing an act of violence against others or self.”

Willard, who has a background in working with “at risk” children, law, and technology in schools, wrote, “The impact of cyberbullying on the well-being of students and the school climate can be significant.”

There are different types of cyberbullying. Some include:
• angry, rude arguments
• harassment
• spreading rumors or posting false information online
• giving out private information or tricking someone into disclosing private information
• pretending to be someone else and posting material to damage that person’s reputation
• intentional exclusion from an online group, or creating fear by sending offensive messages.

Communication online can be very cruel and vicious. The incidents can occur 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with information widely spread that is impossible to fully remove. This type of behavior can cause great emotional harm to the person who becomes the target. What is merely a game for some teens who think they’re invisible online, becomes harmful to their target, sometimes resulting in death for the victim.