RICHMOND - With the advancement of technology, bullying has evolved.
That's the message Donna Dickman, director of Partnership for Violence Free Families, brought Monday to Edison High School.
Administrative Assistant Bill Beattie asked Dickman to host a presentation entitled "Cyberbullying: The New Frontier," for the many parents and the adult community in general that may have been passed by with the advancement of technology and the way their kids communicate.
"We started our anti-bullying program this year throughout our schools but we didn't address cyberbullying. We wanted to tie it all together and wanted parents to know about it," said Beattie, mentioning there will be an additional presentation held today for seventh- through 11th-grade students during school.
Dickman's aim was to help those in attendance leave with an understanding of the bullying dynamics that cross over from the traditional person-to-person episodes to those that can follow a pupil 24 hours per day and every day of the week.
With the advent of new forms of communication such as Facebook, Twitter and instant messaging services, bullying has changed into something much grander, and more dangerous, in scale than the days of schoolyard brutes, officials said.
Bullying contains three key components - an aggressive behavior, a pattern of behavior repeated over time and an imbalance of power or strength, said Dickman
Dickman said the Olweus definition of bullying states, "Bullying is when someone repeatedly and on purpose says or does mean or hurtful things to another person who has a hard time defending himself or herself."
Cyberbullying is defined as, "Bullying through e-mail, instant messaging, in a chat room, on a website or through digital messages or images sent to a cell phone."
The question remains, Dickman said, with all of the new technology pupils have access to, what are the effects this can have and how can it be curbed?
Dickman examined the ways in which a digital attack can affect a parent's child including repeatedly receiving offensive, rude and insulting messages; distribution or posting of derogatory information; cyber-stalking; distribution of digitally altered photos; and false impersonation.
Technological advancement has made this form of harassment available at the tips of a bully's fingers, and all it takes is one look through the news in the past few years to see the results, with numerous deaths/suicides being linked directly to cyberbullying, Dickman said.
Cyberbullying is different than traditional bullying because the online world creates anonymity, disinhibition and accessibility, said Dickman.
In addition, she offered a number of statistics, including:
Close to 40 percent of guys and girls say it is common for nude photos to be shared with someone other than the intended recipient.
Around 70 percent of teens regularly receive personal messages online from people they don't know.
Bullied teens have at least double the risk of headache, sleep problems, anxiety and depression.
Those who bullied others in middle school are four times as likely to have three or more convictions by age 24.
Beattie stressed another reason for the presentation is that students and parents may not understand the legal trouble that can come from cyberbullying, or the charges someone being bullied could press against another.
"As young adults, I feel that they take the technology for granted and they might not understand the legal ramifications their actions could have. Hopefully the message we're sending will help parents and students understand," said Beattie.