Cyber Bullying: A Personal Story

9:22 AM, Jan 15, 2008   |    comments
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A national law enforcement group estimates more than 13 million children between the ages of six and 17 are victims of cyber-bullying. It's serious because, in a few cases, the harassment has led to suicide. One family shared its tragic story with 11Alive's Donna Lowry. At 6:30 in the morning, Ryan's older sister opened the bathroom door. "I felt like I couldn't get any words out. All I could say was, 'Ryan, dead. Ryan, dead. Bathroom.' I couldn't put a sentence together." He didn't leave a note but his dad found some clues. "Days after Ryan's death, I got the courage to go back into this room and I, for whatever reason, thought his computer might unravel some of the mystery, so I sat down at his computer here," shared John Halligan. He found hundreds of saved instant message conversations, one of which was written two weeks before Ryan died: "It started off with the other boy starting the conversation, going, 'The last time I'm going to hear you complain?' and, 'You're finally going to kill yourself?' was the question. And my son said, 'Yep.' And the other boy replied, 'Phew, it's about f-'n time' and my son replied back, 'you'll hear about it in the papers tomorrow,' Halligan says. A recent surveys show that 42 percent of kids have been bullied online. One in four has bullied more than once. And most, 58 percent, haven't said a word to their parents. That's why, experts offer this advice:

  • Keep computers out in the open where you can read what's on the screen
  • Talk about cyber-bulling with your children.
  • Know who they're chatting with. And don't assume, as Erica Bryant's parents did, that when your kids are home, they must be safe. Bryant, 19, was also bullied online. "It was in my own home, but even in my own home, I wasn't safe." Linda Perloff, Erica's mother said, "I hated instant messaging. I hated the power it had to get in our house and hurt her." And mom Kelly Halligan learned through son Ryan's death, "You need to dig a little deeper in your child's life. Especially if they're withdrawing from you, take the time to snoop, if you will, into your child's life."

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