Cyberbullying Awareness

Octo­ber is Cyber­bul­ly­ing aware­ness month. The War­ren Coun­ty Sheriff’s Office would like to edu­cate the com­mu­ni­ty on how to iden­ti­fy and stop behav­ior that either clear­ly indi­cates cyber­bul­ly­ing or could poten­tial­ly lead to cyberbullying.

Infor­ma­tion:

The term Cyber­bul­ly­ing denotes the use of the inter­net to harass, intim­i­date, stalk, or cause harm to anoth­er per­son. Usu­al­ly this is referred the use of social media and more recent­ly online gam­ing and has also been extend­ed to text mes­sag­ing and email, due to the use of inter­net pro­vid­ed mes­sen­ger apps such as Face­book mes­sen­ger and WhatsApp.

Up to the mid 2000’s there were no spe­cif­ic laws against cyber­bul­ly­ing, which was changed after more occur­rences arose where indi­vid­u­als were harmed, either psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly or finan­cial­ly. Some the psy­cho­log­i­cal effects have result­ed in trag­ic events, such as shoot­ings and sui­cide to name a few. 

The Nation­al Cen­ter for Edu­ca­tion Sta­tis­tics and Bureau of Justice’s 2017 sur­vey indi­cat­ed that of stu­dents between the ages of 12–18, 15 per­cent expe­ri­enced cyber­bul­ly­ing dur­ing the school year. The Cen­ter for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) released a study through their Youth Risk Behav­ior Sur­veil­lance Sys­tem that about 15.7 per­cent of stu­dents were bul­lied online in 2019. [1]

Par­ents should mon­i­tor behav­ior of their chil­dren, as this type of bul­ly­ing is hard to notice. Check your children’s phones and com­put­ers for brows­ing his­to­ry to ensure that nei­ther they get bul­lied nor poten­tial­ly bul­ly anoth­er child. Know your child’s user­names and pass­word, mon­i­tor their apps, and edu­cate your chil­dren of the Do’s and Don’ts of online behav­ior. Cyber­bul­ly­ing may also be expe­ri­enced by a stranger through online forums and/or online mul­ti­play­er games.

What to do:

Cyber­bul­ly­ing is a crime and list­ed in the Code of Vir­ginia as “any aggres­sive and unwant­ed behav­ior that is intend­ed to harm, intim­i­date, or humil­i­ate the vic­tim; involves a real or per­ceived pow­er imbal­ance between the aggres­sor or aggres­sors and vic­tim; and is repeat­ed over time or caus­es severe emo­tion­al trau­ma. ‘Bul­ly­ing’ includes cyber bul­ly­ing. ‘Bul­ly­ing’ does not include ordi­nary teas­ing, horse­play, argu­ment, or peer con­flict.” (Code of Vir­ginia § 22.1–276.01). In addi­tion, the seri­ous­ness of bul­ly­ing is rec­og­nized by Code of Vir­ginia § 22.1–279.6 (B) to include rules against bul­ly­ing in their codes of stu­dent con­duct as well as haz­ing and pro­fane or obscene lan­guage or con­duct in schools. [2]

If you or any­one you know is being bul­lied online, you can call the War­ren Coun­ty Sher­if­f’s Office at (540) 635‑4128 or the Crime tip line at (540) 636‑5946 to report the inci­dent. For more infor­ma­tion on this top­ic, please go to www.stopbullying.gov or www.consumernotice.org.


[1] https://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/what-is-it

[2] https://virginiarules.org/varules_topics/bullying/

[3] https://www.consumernotice.org/data-protection/internet-safety-for-kids/#cyberbullying-prevention