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Cyber Bullying Can Have Serious Consequences

Students listen as Salt River Police Department’s Det. Ed Alameda discusses the devastating effects cyber bullying can have on young people during a presentation at Salt River High School.

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Department of Health and Human Services partnered with the Salt River Police Department on November 2 to present a program on cyber-bullying to Salt River High School students.

Cyber-bullying affects youth and sometimes leads to dangerous outcomes of depression and even suicide.

SRPD Det. Ed Alameda, who has worked in law enforcement for 20 years and has worked with the Boys and Girls Club, talked about the dangers of cyber-bullying. He and Vurlene Notsinneh-Bowekaty, of Health and Human Services, discussed who is at risk, common consequences and concerns, legal aspects, and what students can do to help others who are victims of cyber-bullying.

Videos on the effects of bullying were shown to three groups of students. A bully is someone who threatens, harasses, mistreats or makes fun of another person on purpose, at school or at home.

Questions were asked about different types of bullying. When someone is being bullied, there are in fact three people involved. “There is the bully, the victim and there is the witness,” Notsinneh-Bowekaty said.

Det. Alameda asked the students how many of them are on social media, which includes Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Both presenters also asked if the students had more than 1,000 followers or friends, and many of the students raised their hands. The presenters asked if they knew all 1,000 people and emphasized the potential dangers posed by sharing your personal information with people you really don’t know.

“We are beginning to see that there are many people who want to live their lives online,” said Alameda. “We are beginning to believe the only way we are showing people we exist is through cyberspace, and that is where it can get very dangerous.”

Boys bully more than girls, and girls get bullied more than boys, he said.

Presenters told the youth to always be cautious what they post on social media, because someone can use it against them and cyber-bullying will begin to take place.

“Whatever you may have put on Facebook today, for instance, may already be looked at in another country,” said Notsinneh-Bowekaty.

Cyber trolls were also discussed. A cyber troll or Internet troll is someone who starts arguments, provokes or attacks people through social media.

Cyper-bullying involves repeated behavior with intent to harm another person. This has resulted in teen suicide across the country.

The presenters urged the youth to be private and keep information to themselves. If online bullying does happen, block that person and save the evidence. If it repeatedly happens, tell someone.

“A lot of times when one person gets bullied and another person stands up to the bully, the bully then moves on to someone else and tries to bully them. But stand up and let them know it’s not right to be bullied,” Notsinneh-Bowekaty said.

The presentation included interaction, question-and-answer sessions and videos on issues having to deal with cyber-bullying, including personal videos of victims and how they dealt with it or committed suicide because of cyber-bullying.

“Always talk about it,” Alameda said. “Don’t stay quiet about it; let others know what’s happening.”