Cyber bullying affects more teens than you may think - WRBL

Cyber bullying affects more teens than you may think

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

You may notice your teenager absorbed in texting, tweeting and posting pictures on Facebook on a daily basis, but not all of it may involve sending the nicest message to peers. Cyber bullying has become a serious issue.

Statistics show that over half of teens have been bullied online, and about the same amount are doing the bullying. One local psychiatrist says the trend is more dangerous than you might think.

Child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Kaizad Shroff remarks, "20 years ago when there was no Facebook and there was no Twitter, bullying used to be confined to a hallway or a lunchroom, where the bully would go to the victim and say something mean or hit him, and maybe 10 or 20 people around the victim knew that it happened."

But he says in today's society, cyber bullying has a major effect on teens. "One kid can write an update about another kid and 300 people know before the kid has gotten out of his class," says Dr. Shroff.

It can make for a deadly situation in some cases. Roughly 120 10-24 year olds commit suicide in Georgia each year.

Dr. Shroff says at any given time 20% of kids need some sort of mental help.

For one Columbus teen, help was too late. 13-year-old Devin Brown hanged himself in his closet in March after bullies at Rothschild Middle School called him a "snitch" for telling a teacher his classmate had a weapon.

News 3 spoke with Devin's father Ray Brown earlier this year. He never saw it coming. He said, "To me my son died as a hero he did what he was supposed to do but because of bullies he was afraid to go back to school."

Brown says his son didn't have to be afraid to talk to him, but well over half of young people don't tell their parents when they're being bullied.

Dr. Shroff says if your teen isn't communicating, look for signs. "Any major changes are a red flag, and any quick changes," he says. "If the child was doing homework one day, refused to go to school the next, that's a scary proposition."

If you suspect that your child is being bullied, don't ignore it. It's also recommended that parents have passwords to all their teen's accounts to check in periodically.

To keep your child from cyber bullying others, remind them that everything they post is public, and warn them not to send anything they may regret later.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.
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