Cyberbullying: See Something, Say Something, Do Something.
Cyberbullying, the use of electronic devices to harass, shame, incite and humiliate, is imposing a devastating impact on today’s youth.
According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, between 2007 and 2019, the percentage of youth experiencing cyberbullying rose from 18% to 37%. Cyberbullying is now cited as a leading contributor to teenage suicide, as well as scarring the mental health, social development, academic progress, and emotional resilience of countless survivors. According to a report published in 2019 by the CDC, 33% of middle school students, 30% of high school students, and 5% of primary school students have experienced incidents of cyberbullying.
An algorithm developed by Area 23, the top global health advertising agency, revealed 70,000 cyberbullying posts and 300 suicide attempts in the United States during a 24 hour period. Most recently on Dec. 18, 2021, The Wall Street Journal published an article titled “‘Spilling the Tea,’ the Cyberbullying Tactic Plaguing Schools, Parents and Students”, which addresses a frightening emerging new form of cyberbullying that uses social media accounts with the word “tea” in the titles being used to spread rumors, false information, and comments written with the purpose of instigating fights. The easy access to a wide range of devices, the ever-increasing array of social media platforms, the stress of the pandemic, in combination with returning to the uncertainties of classroom learning, escalate the danger even further.
THE LAUNCH OF SOCIAL BULLETS
In response to the rising tide of concern of cyberbullying, Stand for the Silent, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, developed Social Bullets, which is an online website and program designed to raise awareness, intervene and prevent online abuse.
With the essential components of the Social Bullets website and program established, Stand for the Silent is now focusing its efforts on bringing this resource to the attention of local community services and national organizations. These groups serve a crucial role in getting Social Bullets into the hands of those who can likely make the most use of its resources.
Most recently on January 19, 2022, Social Bullets was introduced to parents in the City of Manassas, Virginia through partnering with Officer TJ Rodriguez, Community Vitality Officer, who along with Officer John Hlebinsky developed the Parent E 3 Series, which was designed to engage, educate, and empower parents of at-risk youth. The Project is sponsoring a six-week program to provide parents, in their school community of 7,200 students, with information and tools on topics related to youth well-being, including bullying. According to Officer Rodriquez, the thrust of the series is to “equip parents and youth to put down phones and instead engage in the necessary conversations. A more informed and engaged parent and caregiver provide stronger and healthier relationships with their children.”
“…Equip parents and youth to put down phones and instead engage in the necessary conversations. A more informed and engaged parent and caregiver provide stronger and healthier relationships with their children.”
—Officer TJ Rodriguez, Community Vitality Officer, Manassas City Police Department
STAND FOR THE SILENT’S REACH
Stand for the Silent (SFTS) was founded in 2010 by Kirk and Laura Smalley to honor their son Ty’s memory. He died by suicide, after being suspended from school for retaliating against a student who had bullied him for over two year years. Its mission is to increase awareness and prevent the ravaging consequences of all forms of bullying. Their record of high visibility and impact on youth is widely recognized. Since 2010, SFTS has reached 3.28 million kids in 4,726 schools with their school-wide assemblies.\
ABOUT THE SOCIAL BULLETS PROGRAM
Working with professionals in the mental health field, SFTS’s Social Bullets team developed the website (https://socialbullets.org/), the educational Social Bullets video, and the online free of charge, easily downloaded Social Bullets Cyberbullying Survival Guide. The guide is a practical and action-oriented resource for use by parents, guardians, and other adult role models, including schools, who are in the roles of safeguarding youth.
The core theme of Social Bullets is “SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING, DO SOMETHING. The Guide was written by Karen S. Goldberg (Licensed Clinical Social Worker/Psychotherapist), who for the past 45 years provided psychotherapy and related mental health services to children, teenagers, adults, couples, and families, as well as served as Clinical Director to a non-profit that served 150 public and private schools in Washington, DC Metro area.
Planned for the first quarter of 2022 is further extending the reach of Social Bullets’ resources, particularly to those populations and geographic areas with more limited access. In addition, the development of a Peer-to-Peer Cyberbullying Intervention Program is already underway. This new component of Social Bullets is aimed at helping youth to protect themselves and will be implemented by school systems, recreation organizations, and other agencies devoted to supporting the well-being of young people.
To learn more about the Social Bullets program and to download the Cyberbullying Survival Guide, visit https://socialbullets.org.
To learn more about the Manassas Police Department’s Parent E3 Series and the upcoming events in the Northern Virginia area, click here.