Social media makes it easy to cyberbully

Kaydin Robertson, Arts & Entertainment Editor

    The evolution of social media has made cyberbullying easier and more detrimental to teenagers resulting in multiple symptoms of stress.

    Cyberbullying can lead to social anxiety, depression, feelings of isolation and helplessness, and in extreme cases, suicide, as seen in multiple teenage suicide cases throughout the country.

     “Stress caused from cyberbullying could easily lead to physical symptoms,” Michelle Nietert, local child psychologist at Community Counseling Association said.

    Physical symptoms of stress include stress rashes, frequent headaches, jaw clenching, frequent blushing, sweating, neck aches, back pain and muscle spasms, according to the Journal of International Medical Research.   

    According to the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center, only one in 10 victims of cyberbullying choose to report it.   

    “Cyberbullying can be more public, causing widespread embarrassment and possibly shame,” Nietert said.

    According to Nietert, Axis II personality disorder is a disorder in which people have a real desire to hurt others and lack empathy for any pain that they inflict. People with this personality disorder, as well as people needing to lash out because of their own hurt or anger, are people that Nietert believes to be the most common cyberbullies.

    Nietert encourages students that are being cyberbullied to not engage, to get off line and to activate their phone’s privacy settings to prevent further harassment from fake accounts on the internet.

    Creating a fake profile as a way to cyberbully without getting caught is illegal in the state of Texas, and has been brought up as evidence in multiple trials concerning identity theft.

    “Texas has identity theft laws that have been used in cases of harassment,” Clark High School Campus Officer Art Parker said.

    Unfortunately, cyberbullying often goes unreported and unpunished. Nietert advises victims of cyberbullying that are hesitant to report it to reach out to a trusted adult who will work with authorities so the target will be exposed as little as possible.

    “Sometimes reporting can lead to continued threats and more damage until the party is completely stopped,” Nietert said

    This is why people are reluctant to come forward as victims of cyberbullying. Looper explained how she believes people do not want to come forward because they do not want to be perceived as weak.  

    “I tried to deal with it myself, but being in sixth grade, I didn’t know how to handle it. My parents noticed how it was affecting me and made me remove my social media,” junior Daisy Looper said.

    Looper was a brief victim of online harassment from her peers when she was in sixth grade at Hendrick Middle School.

    “We as a culture need to work on empowering students to make healthy connections with both peers and adults who can intervene and protect when needed,” Nietert said.