MIAMI – Nearly one in four students ages 12-18 experiences bullying. It can eat away at a student’s self-esteem and make attending school a serious challenge. That’s why staff from the Law Enforcement Coordination and Community Outreach Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Florida, regularly travel to area schools to shine a light on this behavior at an early age.
Most recently, more than 100 fifth and sixth graders gathered in the Academir Charter School East gymnasium in Doral, Fla., for a presentation about bullying, cyberbullying, and tips to stay safe on the internet.
According to research, one typically bullies because he or she likely was bullied themselves. And rather than stop the cycle of behavior, they choose to bully for fear of becoming a victim.
“When being bullied, don’t take the bait,” said Law Enforcement Coordination Specialist Darcey Lindsley. “Don’t get upset because that’s exactly what they want you to do. If someone says you’re ugly, respond with well I think you’re beautiful.”
And always report bullying. When it’s reported, there is a record of it.
“If you see something, get involved,” said Lindsley. “Be that person you want others to be toward you.”
In the past, bullying was usually face-to-face. Now it’s all over social media and many children become victims of it.
“Who knows what cyberbullying is?” asked Lindsley. Nearly every hand went up. “To be considered cyberbullying it needs to be minor against minor. After that it becomes harassment. Judges are taking this type of bullying very seriously. They aren’t necessarily slapping minors on the wrist anymore.”
Regarding internet safety, Lindsley stressed the need to always be skeptical about online chatting. That fellow 10-year-old on the chat quite easily could be a 40-year-old with bad intentions.
“You have to think,” said Lindsley. “Don’t slip up and don’t be so trusting. Don’t reveal too much as you never know who is on the other end of that instant message.”
Law Enforcement Coordination Specialist Darcey Lindsley of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Florida, rewards a student with a piece of candy for a correct answer during a recent presentation on bullying, cyberbullying, and internet safety.