In the last 20 years, bullying—using greater strength or power to enforce one’s will on another—has moved from the playground to the Internet. Instead of physical strength and power, “cyberbullying” employs anonymity and emotional abuse to intimidate and threaten.
This pernicious and growing problem can occur over any form of electronic communications and via a variety of platforms. Computers, cell phones, gaming consoles, Twitter, Facebook—all can be used by children to terrorize and coerce peers and classmates.
With 34% of middle schoolers reporting they have experienced cyberbullying, it is essential that students, parents, teachers, and law enforcement have the tools needed to keep kids safe from bullying online.
LGBTQ a Focus of Cyberbullying
Those who are “different” are often the target of cyberbullying. This is especially the case for the LGBTQ community—and even more especially for LGBTQ individuals of color. Nearly half (49%) of LGBTQ students have experienced cyberbullying, and 55% of LGBTQ students do not feel safe at school because of their sexual orientation.
The mixture of racism and homophobia—and other biases—is particularly toxic. Like LGBTQ individuals of all non-white races and ethnicities, Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students can and are targeted more often for cyberbullying not only because of their sexual identity, but also because of their racial and ethnic heritage.
Especially now, when hate and vigilantism are so pervasive—both online and off—LGBTQ AAPI youth need to be able to effectively manage and protect their digital identities and have strategies at their fingertips to effectively counteract cyberbullying.
Personal Information Management Tools
A good place to start are phone and Internet provider personal information management apps, such as AT&T’s Digital You, which helps Web denizens of all ages protect their privacy and stay safe online.
Created in partnership with Common Sense Media, Digital You provides tutorials and resources on everything from reputation management, oversharing, and digital parenting to senior safety, privacy and security, and cyberbullying. Parents, caregivers, kids, and teachers can all use these resources to lessen the impact of cyberbullying.
Another way to use technology to fight against cyberbullying is engaging with the #laterhaters campaign, which not only provides tools and advice on how to deal with cyberbullying, but also gives victims a community to back them up.
LGBTQ AAPI Youth—Get Help When You Need It
Are you an LGBTQ AAPI youth who has experienced cyberbullying because of your race, sexuality, and/or your gender identity? If so, we encourage you to use the tools and information linked to above to help fight back, stay safe online, and involve a trusted grown-up when necessary. You don’t have to go through this alone.
If you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us at any time.