Cyberbullying Conference Fights For Online Victims

Tina Meier, present at the New York City conference, knows there's little she can do about the suicide of her 13-year-old daughter Megan, except embark on a crusade to protect other children.
The teens organized through and, which coordinated the conference. The nonprofit group has thousands of volunteers around the globe. It operates,,, and

Teens and adolescents can sign up for training through Teenangels and tweenangels. Once they get their wings, they talk to other young people and industry insiders about cyberbullying.

Their "angels" have done their own research and found that most young people don't understand the definition of cyberbullying. Young people tend to think it only includes serious threats of physical harm. And, the angels' polls of their peers have revealed that 85% of middle school students have been bullied online.

Once teens understand a broad definition that includes posting embarrassing photos, sending mean texts, starting rumors, hacking into friends' accounts and changing people's profiles, 70% of teens admit they have engaged in cyberbullying themselves.

The angels' research also showed that girls and boys are equally likely to be on either end of the problem. The difference is: boys tend to hack more or taunt each other through online games, while girls are more likely to do it through texts, chats, or e-mails.

While social networking sites, government leaders, law enforcement officials, and parents can curb the problem, the angels also have advice for youngsters who are targeted. Stop. Block and tell. Stop communicating online and don't become a perpetrator by retaliating. Block the offending party and tell an adult.

Parents can encourage their children to follow those steps by initiating conversations about cyberbullying. They can also be aware that youngsters often fear the problem will worsen or they will lose online freedom if they tell.