Australian model, TV personality, and author Charlotte Dawson committed suicide in February.
Tragic and saddening as this news is; it’s even more tragic knowing that cyber-bullying likely contributed to Charlotte’s death.
Most people in the general public see cyber-bullying as a problem among middle-schoolers and teens. Some aren’t even aware a problem exists. After all, the term cyber-bullying is still being integrated into our collective conscience as online media continues to evolve and grow.
Surprised as people may be to discover it’s a problem at all, they may be just as surprised to learn that adults are participating in behavior that’s just as destructive. And it has to stop.
We need to raise awareness of this issue to protect more internet users from suffering at the hands of these individuals. We need to press all social media sites where the problem occurs to act instead of ignoring the problem.
Better privacy controls and moderation need to be implemented. Facebook has taken some good measures with privacy controls and the ability to block and report abuse. Some of these features are also available on other social networking sites, but when reports of abuse go unheeded, the bullies continue to have free reign to harass and humiliate at their will.
We as the consumers and contributors to these websites have to speak out. When you see this behavior (whether directed at you or anyone else), please DO NOT engage with these abusers, but do not ignore it.
Report them to site moderators and staff. Use every means you can in terms of blocking, tightening privacy controls, etc. to keep yourself safe. Warn others about the problem so they can also take action. Contact the people in charge of these websites and demand they take action.
While anyone can become the target of cyber-bullies, authors are frequent victims. If you’re an author or aspiring author, please read this article by Anne R. Allen entitled ‘The Laws of the Cyberian Jungle.’ She offers some really smart tips in order to keep yourself safe in the shark-infested waters of the internet.
Whether you’re an author or not, please stay safe online and watch each other’s backs. Let’s do what we can to help prevent more tragedies like these in the future.