Bullying and Cyberbullying

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

An expert in the law asked Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?" (Luke 10:25-37) Jesus' response is one we all know well: the parable of the Good Samaritan in which He tells us that our "neighbor" isn't just the person who lives next door to us; it's everyone. Jesus' timeless lessons of love and compassion toward our neighbor should also guide our attitude about bullying. We should avoid attacking, hurting, or embarrassing someone else. We should always think about the consequences of forwarding texts, emails, or videos. But our responsibility doesn't stop there. Loving our online neighbor means reporting injustices and comforting those who are injured just as the Good Samaritan did. Anyone we encounter online is as much a neighbor to us as the injured man was in the parable. The online power each of us has can be just as hurtful as the robbers' blows or as healing as the Samaritan's unconditional love.

In any social environment, offline and online, in the schoolyard and on the Internet, bullying can occur. As digital media is playing an increasing role in teens' lives today, sometimes they find themselves in a bullying situation online. Cyberbullying is bullying using the Internet or digital media. In some ways it can be worse than traditional bullying because the content remains online; it's able to be spread widely and quickly and can become invasive. Cyberbullying most commonly takes the form of someone publicly posting or forwarding private emails, IMs, or text messages. It can destroy a teen's self-confidence. Through your computer, this menace can come into your home without you even knowing it! Statistics show that 32% of online teens have experienced some form of harassment and 26% of teens have been harassed through their cell phones.

In recent years, a series of bullying-related suicides in the US and across the globe have drawn attention to the connection between bullying and suicide. Though too many adults still see bullying as "just part of being a kid," it is a serious problem that leads to many negative effects for victims, including suicide. Many people may not realize that there is also a link between being a bully and committing suicide.

Cyberbullying - any type of bullying that is carried out by electronic media. There are 7 types, including:

The statistics on bullying and suicide are alarming:

Some of the warning signs of suicide can include:

If a teen is displaying these symptoms, talk to them about your concerns and get them help right away, such as from a counselor, doctor, pastor, or at the emergency room. In some cases, it may not be obvious that a teen is thinking about suicide, such as when the suicide seems to be triggered by a particularly bad episode of bullying. In several cases where bullying victims killed themselves, bullies had told the teen that he or she should kill him or herself or that the world would be better without them. Others who hear these types of statements should be quick to stop them and explain to the victim that the bully is wrong.

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