Bullying rates are astronomical in the UK alone never mind around the globe. However with the ever-growing universe that is social media comes a greater opportunity for bullies to victimise others – specifically through cyber-bullying. With the generation of social media predominantly in the early 2000s, alongside it came the development of a wide-spread community and expression outlet with something for everyone. However, since its creation, social media has often been rooted in hate and hauled an outbreak in online bullying. Bullying which was previously non-existent. Cyber-bullying.
Before the dawn of social media and smartphones, bullying was typically left at the school gates as bullies had little opportunity to victimise other children through the miniscule screens we own. Let’s play a quick guessing game! If I’m correct, you have to keep on reading and if I’m incorrect, you should anyway. Trust me on this one. My guesses are that you have a phone in your hand. Lying on a surface? In your back pocket? On charge? Either way I win because there is no way you could be reading this article without some sort of access to the internet – which is a very scary thought. Life before social media and smartphones meant home was truly a ‘safe haven’ and victims of bullying felt the metaphorical barrier containing the hate they endured. With the conjuring of the evergreen Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and more, bullying once contained inside the perimeter of a school started to burst through the cracks of the chipped, frail school fencing. This means that bullying as we know it today started to follow victims everywhere and they lost the ‘safe haven’ of their home. Every ‘ding, ‘beep’ or ‘buzz’ reflexed a sharp head turn and palpitation. Why? We have children scared of the sound of a notification and at what expense? For bullies to seem in control, for some likes or some laughs?
To highlight the extent in which cyber-bullying has impacted lives, approximately 37% of young people aged 12-17 have been victims of cyber-bullying. 60% of young people have witnessed online bullying and the majority do not intervene. Young people who have experienced cyber-bullying are at a much greater risk of self-harm and suicide than those who have not. There are children considering ending their own life before they have even begun due to the tasteless and hateful words of those around them. Just imagine someone you cared for was a decimal in that percentage; would they seem like just numbers and so inconsiderable then?
It is clear that there is a paramount need to combat all forms of bullying, not just cyber-bullying. However, it would be naive to assume bullying could stop all together overnight, as nice as it would be. To take the first stepping-stone away from the toxicity of bullying, I have devised a ‘Safe Haven’ plan for anyone who is feeling victimised or bullied: