STATE OF UTAH — A tragic story from Utah made headlines several weeks ago when a 10-year-old girl died after taking her own life after repeatedly being racially-bullied at school.
Bullying has been around for about as long as humankind has, but a more recent troubling trend has been the rise of cyber-bullying.
StopBullying.gov defines that as bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Cyberbullying can occur through SMS, Text, and apps, or online in social media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share content.
Robert Hendriks, a spokesman for the U.S. Branch of Jehovah’s Witnesses, told KVNU why his organization is addressing the problem.
“It’s affecting our children, it’s affecting everyone’s children really. When you look at the statistics, the latest ones, it just seems to be even more profound than this but some 16 percent of students in grades 9 to 12 report being cyber-bullied in the past 12 months. Nearly one out of four have reported being bullied in the most recent survey in 2019, it’s a real problem,” he said.
Hendriks said the old adage ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’ is just not true. There’s emotional trauma, depression, isolation and even suicide. He said it’s an issue that is difficult for kids to bring up to their parents, but help is available.
“If you went to JW.org for free, of course, and you put in the word ‘bullying’, you’ll find myriads of resources dating back to the mid (19)90’s. Some of which are, for example, a white board which is ‘Beat a Bully Without Using Your Fists’.”
He said what it does is allow a parent to watch it with their children in a non-threatening way as it uses humor to engage with the audience about a very serious topic. That and other resources are available at JW.org.