By Betty Gandee

With the surge in social media sites and its popularity among young people, it is no surprise that cyber bullying is on the rise.

Cyber bullying is defined as bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, tablets, or social media. This is becoming a problem in our schools and communities. What was once considered “a part of growing up” is turning into a larger issue than most want to recognize.

One out of every four students (22%) report being bullied in some way during the school year according to the National Bullying Prevention Center. The statistics show that 160,000 students in the USA refuse to go to school because they dread the physical and verbal altercations by their peers.

Bullying affects not only the victim, it also affects the one doing the bullying, witnesses, family, friends, and so on. There are many negative impacts of bullying which can include physical and emotional stress, headaches, and they can have a harder time adjusting to school.  Severe cases of bullying can lead to self-harm or suicidal actions. With suicide now being the second leading cause of death among youth, many question if social media, hazing, and bullying could be contributing to this spike.

It is important to communicate with your children about their daily interactions with others.  Ask them how their school day was. Show interest in what they say and listen when they talk. You as a parent will be the first to know if something is wrong or not going so well. Look for signs that something may be going on. Some signs include unwillingness to go to school, change in attitude, change in sleep patterns, change in grades, shift in friends, disinterest in their normal activities.  It is important to recognize these signs and address any bullying issues to the appropriate person. You can find more useful information on StopBullying.gov and tips on how to bring up these topics with your children.