Cyberbullying’s latest iteration is a phenomenon called “teen shaming.”
“With this type of cyberbullying, photos that were once posted by someone, perhaps in good innocent fun, are being reposted in a very demeaning way .?.?. with subtle but mean messages or blunt advice” meant to attack another’s self- or body-image, said Florri Krefsky, school social worker for the Lindenhurst School District.
“What we know about cyberbullying and, specifically now, teen shaming is that with the availability of the Internet hundreds and thousands have the opportunity to view it,” said Krefsky, who also has a private practice in Baldwin. Driven by social media, shaming memes such as “Hey Girls, Did You Know,” (some of which focus on girls and inappropriate dressing) have gone viral on sites such as Facebook and have garnered media attention.
The effect on teens who fall victim to any form of bullying can be “embarrassing, devastating and painful,” Krefsky said. They “are at risk for depression and even suicide because they feel excluded, ridiculed and isolated.”
Long Island schools, Krefsky said, are working hard “to address bullying, cyberbullying and teaching kids to treat each other with respect.” Lindenhurst school district, she said, addresses these issues during assemblies, class room workshops and other programs. With teen shaming or cyberbullying, it’s about “understanding the tremendous impact that the Internet plays .?.?. that instantly you can have a great impact on somebody’s life by posting something online that’s negative.”
As a preventive measure, she said, teens “can work on ways to develop self esteem and confidence.” Also, she said, parents can help teens “make positive choices even in high school.”
Students can also seek help from their school social worker, psychologist, guidance counselor or an outside mental health professional. Moreover, she said, “if your child becomes a target of teen shaming or cyberbullying, you may be able to take legal action.”
On a positive note, Krefsky said, “The refreshing news is that some teens are beginning to use social media in a positive way .?.?. by complementing others and tweeting about classmates performance in music and sports.”