How to understand, recognize and prevent cyberbullying

Note from Bryan: October was National Bullying Prevention Month. Each Wednesday in October, the BSA Youth Protection team shared important reminders about what each of us can do to prevent, recognize and report bullying as we work to make Scouting a safe place for all.

This week, we have this important follow-up post from Jim Wilson, national Youth Protection chairman.


As we wrap up National Bullying Prevention Month messaging, we have been reminded that there is one other critical aspect of bullying prevention that is serious enough to merit its own week.

In recent years, technology has given rise to children and youth in a form of bullying referred to as “cyberbullying.”  Cyberbullying is also referred to as “online social cruelty” or “electronic bullying.”

Cyberbullying is just what it sounds like: using internet technology such as instant messaging (IM), text, social media (such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.), or simply texting via cellphone for the purpose of teasing, humiliating, harassing, threatening or coercing another person.

It may mean text messages or posts sent at all times of day or night, with degrading comments about someone or fictitious posts.

The effects of cyberbullying

Cyberbullying can have devastating effects on the victim or target, whether a lone cyberbully or other friends watching/monitoring/witnessing the attack.

The target may lose sleep, lose desire to participate in family and social activities, obsess over what is going to be posted next, become depressed, become angry, avoid school or social activities, and have suicidal ideations.

In extreme circumstances, unfortunately, there have been incidences where cyberbullying has led to teen suicide.

The role of parents and leaders

It is important that parents, leaders, and “upstanders” understand the common forms of cyberbullying, signs a child may be a victim, some things that can be recommended to a child or Scout who is being cyberbullied, and what Scouters and parents can do to deal with cyberbullying.

These can be found on our partners’ websites: StopBullying.gov and NetSmartz. We also have information on the BSA Youth Protection website.

Everyone needs to understand the critical issues of cyberbullying and how to address them. Let’s make sure that our actions are keeping our youth safe and free from bullying.

‘Scouts First’ helpline

Should you, as a leader or parent, need support with this critical issue, remember you can receive assistance and help by contacting the “Scouts First” Helpline for Abuse and Youth Protection at 1-844-Scouts1, (1-844-726-8871).

Remember, Youth Protection Begins with YOU!

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