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Exposed: Cyber Bullying Part One

Exposed: Cyber Bullying Part One

47 ABC - Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook all are forms of social media, but they've also become a playground for this generations most common bully's, cyber bullies.

"I hated myself because people online were like saying this is not ok ,so you start to think it's not ok to be the way you are," said teenager Harper Howard, who said he has been cyber bullied for the past few years.

All it takes is a few moments. A mean comment underneath someone's photo. A Twitter message making up a lie about someone else. In a matter of seconds cyber bullying can leave lasting marks on someone's life.

"It made me feel awful, like I'm not enough I guess, like I'm not what people want me to be," said Wicomico County High School student Rachel Whitcopf.

Unfortunately Harper Howard's and Rachel Whitcopf's problems aren't unique to this area. Half of today's young adults admit to being cyber bullied at least once.

"People say 'oh just turn off you phone, turn off your computer' but it can have a lasting impact, like it can really hurt someone to depths you would not believe," said Whitcopf.

According to national statistics 20 percent of kids cyber bullied think about suicide. Of that number 1 out of 10 will actually go through with it.

When it comes to cyber bullies you can be targeted for just about anything. For Howard it's his sexual orientation.

"Being Trans that's a huge issue and a lot of people don't accept -  so that's a big issue you get online cause when you're out in the open people are going to be there and they're going to say stuff about and they're going to hate you for it just because they don't understand it," said Howard. "You know like the casual like dyke comment, faggot occasionally and like the 'he-she' they're like really rude comments, but you learn to ignore them over time."

Of course with teenagers, body image is also a go to for cyber bullies.

"Like if you post a picture of yourself in the summer in a bikini you get more hateful comments than a guy does in his swim trunks," said Wicomico High School student Madison McMichael.

So what makes those mean comments have a deeper affect on today's youth? As Dr. Jennifer Leggour, clinical director at Worcester Youth and Family Counseling  explains before cyber bullying a victim could separate themselves from their bully. Now with most teens owning a cell phone and having constant online access that separation isn't really an option.

"With cyber bullying someone could have access to another person 24 hours a day 7 days a week and while the person is alone and vulnerable and in that sense it can increase in frequency intensity and duration and really cause major disruption to the person in addition to that whatever messages that are put out there not only reaches that person but can reach hundreds of people so the social humiliation factor has dramatically changed over time," Leggour said.
 

 


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