Cyberbullying — it’s very real!

Published 11:56 am Thursday, December 16, 2021

By Bob Holt

Cyberbullying is defined as using electronic means intentionally to harass another person. This damage is usually done by commenting on a person’s appearance, sexuality, affiliations and/or religious beliefs. Often cyberbullying will involve spreading rumors and extremely personal information.

The issue is that cyberbullying often leads to the target’s low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, behavioral disorders and self-harm. Teens are especially vulnerable.

Research has confirmed that 95% of U.S. teens are online, and most of them have a smartphone or other mobile device. They look at these devices numerous times day and night. Thirty-seven percent of 12-17 year olds report they have been bullied online and 30% indicate more than once. Further, 23% admit cyberbullying a classmate or “doing something mean” online. Girls are more likely than boys to be both victims and perpetrators. One-half of the teens bullied online consider themselves a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community.

The Instagram and TikTok platforms account for 42% of cyberbullying cases.

It is estimated by mental health professionals that only 10% of those experiencing cyberbullying report the issue to a parent, school authority or other trusted adult. The obvious first step to reduce cyberbullying is to report the incident as soon as possible.  Victims need to be reassured that the perpetrator is the problem, not those who are victimized. Victims should not retaliate against the bully because that is the action the perpetrator seeks.

Arguments between two teens are not unusual, but it becomes bullying when one side continues a constant stream of harassment.  If done online, then it becomes cyberbullying. The ultimate goal is to assure those bullied that they are not the problem, to instruct them to report the situation as soon as it reaches the level of cyberbullying, to save the evidence and to restore their self-respect.

ROBERT N. “BOB” HOLT is a Franklin native, a retired professor of business management and real estate at Southwestern Community College in Sylva, N.C. He holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral studies degrees from Virginia Tech and was a member of the university’s Corps of Cadets. His email address is