October is national bullying prevention month. A time where parents and the community can come together to create more awareness around cyberbullying and help ensure a safer internet for young people.
A Nipomo High school student James Philson has known many students and friends who have suffered from cyberbullying.
“I think cyberbullying is worse because it’s face to face it behind a screen so you can say whatever you want,” said Philson.
It’s the hurtful things a bully can say that sometimes have grave consequences, especially for teenagers.
Philson said he has seen it give fellow students depression and social anxiety.
High school student Leah Miller has also seen what cyberbullying can do to a young person.
“They think that it doesn’t hurt the other person, they think that it’s only going to hurt the person for that second when they see it, but really it’s going to hurt them for a long time, ” said Miller
And in some cases a long time that could cause teens to feel isolated and depressed. Miller says the person she knew who was cyberbullied felt they had no one to turn to and was surprised how one bully could negatively affect her friend’s life so much.
Local suicide prevention advocates at the family service agency in Lompoc noted they have seen a rise in young people from ages nine to eighteen years old who contemplate or attempt suicide due to cyberbullying. However, parents, like Veronica Ortiz, can help create more awareness by talking to their kids about it.
“I try to teach him not to bully or pay attention to those negative comments,” said Ortiz.
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s office said the biggest problem they see happening with cyberbullying is parents are simply not being aware of what kids are doing on social media and how vulnerable some young people make themselves by sending out personal photos or information on the web. Nick Kimball suggests above all pay attention.
“Parents need to be more aware of what’s going on social media and let their kids know that if something is going on, they need to bring it to an adult,” said Kimball.