Cyberbullying & Sexting

Cyberbullying: willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices

Sexting: sending or receiving sexually explicit suggestive nude or seminude images or video, generally via cell phone

The most common places where cyberbullying occurs are:

  • Social Media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter
  • SMS (Short Message Service) also known as Text Message sent through devices
  • Instant Message (via devices, email provider services, apps, and social media messaging features)
  • Email

Social Media Apps to Know About

  • Yik Yak
    • All users are anonymous (registration requires no personal information, other than a user’s location), and their posts are called “Yaks” and show up in a live feed for other users — or “Yakkers” — in their area…. The app is rated ages 17+ and targets college students, who can use it to spread the word about parties and events or share their thoughts. But younger users are easily getting their hands on the app and using it to post hurtful comments and rumors about their peers.
    • This app allows users to interact in a question-and-answer format — with friends, peers, and anonymous users alike. The app is rated ages 13+ and is most popular in Europe but is catching on in the U.S. Some kids have used the app for hurtful cyberbullying that has been linked to suicides, including the death of 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick of Florida
  • Tinder
    • Tinder’s developers describe the app as “the fun way to connect with new and interesting people around you.” …Tinder helps people find others in their geographic location and allows users to view each others’ photos and start instant messaging once both people have “liked” one another. The geo-location features and anonymous nature of the app put kids at risk for catfishing, sexual harassment, stalking, and worse.
  • Bumble
    • Bumble was first founded to challenge the antiquated rules of dating. Now, Bumble empowers users to connect with confidence whether dating, networking, or meeting friends online. We’ve made it not only necessary but acceptable for women to make the first move, shaking up outdated gender norms. We prioritize kindness and respect, providing a safe online community for users to build new relationships.
  • Plenty of Fish
    • An online dating service, popular primarily in Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, and the United States. It is available in nine languages. … While it is free to use, PlentyOfFish offers premium services as part of their upgraded membership, such as who has “liked” a member through the service’s Tinder-like MeetMe feature, and allowing users to see whether a message has been read and/or deleted.
  • Kik
    • Kik is a mobile app that people can use to text with friends at high speed and with more of a “face-to-face feel” than regular texting (users’ profile pictures appear in a little bubble next to their text, and they can quickly text photos, sketches, or even pre-designed greeting cards to individuals or groups). …Reviews in the App Store and Google Play store reveal that many people use Kik to meet strangers for sexting. The app also been connected with cyberbullying. 
  • Voxer
    • This walkie-talkie PTT (push-to-talk) app allows users to quickly exchange short voice messages. They can have chats going on with multiple people at a time and just have to tap the play button to hear any messages they receive…it’s becoming popular among teens who enjoy its hybrid style of texting and talking. Hurtful messages from cyberbullies can be even more biting when they’re spoken and can be played repeatedly.
  • Snapchat
    • Snapchat is an app that allows users to send photos and videos that disappear from view within 10 seconds after they’re received…. Snapchat pics don’t completely disappear from a device, and users can take a screenshot before an image vanishes in the app…”disappearing photo” apps like Snapchat might embolden kids to send more explicit photos and texts than they would have before through traditional texting.
  • Instagram
    • Instagram is a mobile, desktop, and Internet and Internet-based photo-sharing application and service that allows users to share pictures and videos either publicly, or privately to pre-approved followers… Users can connect their Instagram account to other social networking sites, enabling them to share uploaded photos to those sites.
  • Whisper
    • This 17+ app’s motto is: “Share Secrets, Express Yourself, Meet New People.” It has a similar feel to the now-defunct PostSecret app, which was discontinued shortly after its release because it filed up with abusive content. …While it allows for creative expression, it can also take overly personal content viral.
  • Tumblr
    • Many children and young teens are also active on this 17+ photo-sharing app. It can also be used for sharing videos and chatting. …users can easily access pornographic, violent, and inappropriate content. Common Sense also notes that users need to jump through hoops to set up privacy settings — and until then, all of a user’s photo and content is public for all to see. Mental health experts say that Tumble can be damaging to adolescents mental health because it tends to glorify self-harm and eating disorders.
  • Jailbreak Programs and Icon-Hiding Apps
    • These aren’t social media apps — and they’re confusing — but you should still know about them (especially if you have a tech-savvy teen or have had to take away your child’s mobile phone privileges because of abuse). “Jailbreaking” and iPhone  or “rooting” and Android phone basically means hacking your own device to lift restrictions on allowable applications — meaning, the user can then download third-party apps not sold in the App Store or Google Play store.
  • Fake Calculator App
    • The icon looks like a run-of-the-mill calculator, but when you open it and type in the correct passcode, it will open a treasure trove of hidden pictures and files that don’t appear anywhere else on your device.

Survey of School Resource Officers

  • 94% of SROs agreed cyberbullying was a serious problem warranting a law enforcement response
  • 78% conducted cyberbullying investigations during the previous school year
  • 93% agreed sexting was an important concern of law enforcement officers
  • 67% investigated and average of 5 sexting incidents in the previous year

Prevalence of Sexting

  • Estimated 4-31% of youth have participated in sexting
  • 8% of 4,400 middle and high school students surveyed indicated that they had sent naked or seminude images of themselves to others.
  • 13% of 4,400 middle and high school students surveyed reported receiving naked or seminude images from classmates

High School Addresses Cyberbullying