“You will never reach higher ground if you are always pushing others down.” ~ Jeffrey Benjamin

In the past, bullying meant schoolyard harassment and mean pranks during school hours or school functions. Today, with constant accessibility to the Internet and social media, such treatment has followed kids into their homes, bedrooms and every aspect of their lives under the title of “cyber bullying.”

This type of hazing occurs when someone is stalked or harassed by another person using online social media sites (common sites used are MySpace, Facebook, & Twitter) and other online venues. In recent days, the crime and tragedy of cyber bullying have made headlines after British Columbia teen Amanda Todd committed suicide following extreme online harassment.

In Todd’s case, the harassment didn’t just stay in a contained environment such as her school; instead it spread all over the Internet, following her even after she changed schools. The incidents began when Todd was in seventh grade and reportedly “flashed” a man online. One year later, this man tracked the girl down and posted her topless photo online, forwarding the photo to many others. This led to cyber bullying and real-life harassment from students at every school Todd attended.

Todd battled with depression, anxiety and self-harm after the bullying started and reportedly attempted suicide by drinking bleach before finally succeeding to end her life on October 10.

Todd’s story touched a nerve in the cyber world and has once again raised awareness about the tragedy of those who are cyber bullied in today’s society. Unfortunately, Todd’s case isn’t the first of this type in recent years. In 2010, 17-year-old New York teen Alexis Pilkington took her life after being bullied online. Following her death, the treatment continued as hate messages were posted on tribute pages.

Among cases of online bullying that ended in tragedy include the case of a Missouri teen who was bullied online by a classmate’s mother. Also rumors about a Vermont eighth-grader were spread at school and online, finally resulted in him choosing to end his life after years of hazing.

It is hard enough being a teenager in this world, without the constant bullying by peers. Our bodies are going through changes and we don’t quite understand where we fit in in this life. One thing that teenagers are known for is living in the moment. This seemed to backfire in Amanda Todd’s case and other teens who are bullied. Living in the moment made them believe that this is how life will always be. They do not understand that tomorrow has so much promise and that the hard times will pass. They were unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

If you are being bullied, the best thing you can do is speak up. Once you speak up and reach out to others, you will realize you are not alone. You will learn coping mechanisms. This too shall pass and in the end you will come out a stronger person. We all make mistakes on a daily basis; there is life after mistakes, no matter how big the mistake.

Such harassment and destructive behavior can be fought against by students and adults alike who speak out about the issue and work to teach others that this type of treatment is unacceptable.

Speaking out can make a difference in the tragedy of cyber bullying!

Have you, or someone you know, been a victim of bullying or cyber bullying? What steps were taken to overcome the situation?