ALBANY, N.Y. - Since cyber-bullying has recently been brought
further into the national spotlight, after the suicide of a 12-year-old Florida
girl, local organizations are trying to prevent that tragedy from
happening to Capital Region children.
Experts say parents are essential in helping to keep kids
safe online. Many parents may view social media sites as simply fun ways for
kids to connect to others, but there can be a darker side.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, a slight
increase in suicide among 15-24 year olds can be linked
to bullying, especially bullying via social media.
Youth experts say girls are also more susceptible to cyber-bullying,
where name-calling can escalate with serious psychological effects over time.
Ashley Jeffrey, the Executive Director of Girls, Inc. says,
"You think a lot about the physical fighting, but now you're seeing the
cyber bullying. Girls being made fun of, maybe because they don't have the top brand
clothes. And then it really gets deeper and it totally chars away at their
self-esteem. Bullying has so many different faces."
Jeffrey says parents should periodically monitor their
children's social network activity, and keep in close contact with teachers, in
case cyber bullying spills over into the classroom.
Cyber bullying is also recognized under New York
State's bullying laws.
Nationally, Thursday is "Spirit Day." The day is dedicated to acceptance and
Anti-Bullying. Also, the month of October is National Bullying Month, according
to Pacer's National Bullying Prevention Center.