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It’s Time To Stop The Cyberbullying Epidemic

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Imagine your child sitting in the safety of your own home, doing homework, watching TV, curled up in bed — just being a kid. Suddenly, a message pops up on his phone: “Everyone hates you.” Or maybe your daughter spots a social media post calling her vicious names along with a traumatizing — and false — rumor about her that’s already gone viral. It’s a nightmare that happens all too often as cyberbullying reaches epidemic proportions.

I testified before Congress about this insidious threat, and my show has devoted countless hours to the topic. We can’t stand by as victims of cyberbullying live in fear, humiliation, depression, isolation, or even do the unthinkable by taking their own lives. There’s more we can — and must — do, as parents, as kids, as families, and as a society.

As a boy growing up in Texas and Oklahoma, I was regaled with tales of the old Wild West where gunslingers like Black Bart and Billy the Kid freely roamed the countryside terrorizing law-abiding citizens. Decades later, we’ve got a new Wild Wild West, and this one has me far more concerned because I’m living in it. So are you. It’s called the Wild Wild Web and this time, the perpetrators are cyberbullies. These “keyboard stalkers” can antagonize 24 hours a day 7 days a week, reaching millions of people instantaneously. They can destroy reputations — even lives — anonymously. When the deed is done and they’re ready to ride away, all they’ve got to do is log off with the push of a button … but they can come back at any time without warning.

And in this unbridled territory there are few consequences for cyberbullies’ actions and little punishment for their crimes. It is estimated that adults intervene in only 4 percent of cyberbullying cases. Peers intervene 11 percent of the time. That means that 85 percent of all cyberbullying goes on unabated.

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