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Cyber Bullying Reports Tripled Since Last Year
School may be out for most kids, but that doesn't mean the bullying stops.
Wednesday, a new report was released showing that cyber bullying has tripled over the last year.
This report says that 87 percent of youth have witnessed or been the target of cyber bullying. The 2014 survey also found that 24 percent of kids said they would not know what to do if they were harassed or bullied online.
We took a closer look at the options kids and parents have when dealing with an internet bully.
"It is different nowadays where instead of saying something face to face, kids try to hide, or people try to hide behind the keyboard, hide behind that phone where you're texting something," Sangamon County State's Attorney, John Milhiser, said.
In the 2014 report put out by McAfee, more than 1,500 boys and girls, ages 10 to 18, were surveyed about their experience with cyber bullying. The study revealed an upward trend.
"With the increase in social media, with Snapchat, with Facebook, with all these other avenues... that teens and young adults have access to, you know, that increases cyber bullying," Milhiser said.
Seventy-two percent of the surveyed victims said the bullying was due to their appearance.
"If you're different in any way, if you're different in the income of your family, the color of your skin," Cindy Martsch, a social worker with Carl Sandburg Elementary School, said. "We also know that LGBT students are especially vulnerable, as are students who are part of the special education population."
For the kids, they may just think it's funny or a joke, but Milhiser says his office doesn't take any type of bullying lightly.
"It is a crime," Milhiser said. "Cyber bullying and other harassment by electronic means, there's other statutes out there that are there to protect our children."
While the kids are in school, teachers and staff can help in observing and stopping this type of behavior, but now that most schools are out, the weight shifts to parents.
The key is communication.
"Most of the sites have a minimum age requirements, whether it be 13, some are 17, so there are some age requirements and parents need to be aware of what their children are doing online," Milhiser said.
Social workers say to encourage your kids not to just follow the crowd.
"Empower your child, that if they see something happening that's not right, don't just forward it along, bring it to your parents attention," Martsch said.
Some signs that your child is being bullied or cyber bullied include changes in behavior, irritability, changes in eating or sleeping patterns, and not wanting to go to school.
For a full list of signs and for other resources for parents on how to handle the topic of bullying, click here.