Traditional Values, Progressive Thinking – July 20, 2016

Mayor Gary Graham

Mayor Gary Graham

Advances in technology have revolutionized the way we live, work, and communicate. Social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others have made it easier and more convenient for us to stay up-to-date with friends, family, and the news. But unfortunately, with the emergence of social media, there has been a rise in cyberbullying. I want to take a few moments and share with you some statistics and information about cyberbullying.

According to the Enough is Enough Foundation for Internet Safety, 43 percent of teens report that they have experienced some sort of cyberbullying in the past year. Even more shocking, 95 percent of social media-using teens who have witnessed cruel behavior on social networking sites say they have seen others ignoring the mean behavior.

When it comes to cyberbullying, bullies are often motivated by anger, revenge or frustration. Sometimes they do it for entertainment or because they are bored and have too much time on their hands. Many do it for laughs or to get a reaction. Some do it by accident, and either send a message to the wrong recipient or don’t think before they do something. The power-hungry do it to torment others and for their ego.

Because their motives differ, the solutions and responses to each type of cyberbullying incident have to differ too. Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” where cyberbullying is concerned.

You should be aware of a few tips to help stop cyberbullying:

Don’t respond: If someone bullies you, remember that your reaction is usually exactly what the bully wants.

Don’t retaliate: Getting back at the bully turns you into one and reinforces the bully’s behavior.

Save the evidence: The only good news about digital bullying is that the harassing messages can usually be captured, saved, and shown to someone who can help.

Block the bully: If the harassment is coming in the form of instant messages, texts, or profile comments, do yourself a favor: use preferences or privacy tools to block the person.

Don’t be a bully: How would you feel if someone harassed you? You know the old saying about walking a mile in someone’s shoes; even a few seconds of thinking about how another person might feel can put a big damper on aggression.

Be a friend, not a bystander: Watching or forwarding mean messages empowers bullies and hurts victims even more. If you can, tell bullies to stop or let them know harassment does not make people look cool.

Please remember when posting on social media sites: what you post may reach unintended audiences, and what you say may hurt someone.

When cyberbullying involves threats of violence, stalking, and/or hate crimes, please document the interaction and call the O’Fallon Police Department at (618) 624-4545.

The safety of the O’Fallon community and the working relationship between City Hall and the residents we serve is yet another example of why O’Fallon is such a great community in which to live.