Let’s assume that someone posted a lie about you online. It would be shared not just once but twice and not just twice but ten times, a hundred times, or a million times.

How would that make you feel? We should remember that once a rumor is posted online and it is spread all over the place, it is very difficult to get rid of it.

Technology has become a part of our everyday life, and we are enjoying its benefits. However, there is a dark side to technology; online platforms became another platform for bullies to commit violence and crime. According to a new poll released by UNICEF in 2019, one in three young people in 30 countries said they had been a victim of online bullying, and that one in five among the victims skipped school due to cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying is a form of posting and sharing hurtful and insulting content online. This is occurring at an alarming rate. The effects of cyberbullying can range from increased feelings of insecurities, anxiety, depression, and even death.

ASEZ members in Middletown, Connecticut, US, held an Anti-Cyberbullying Forum on April 28, 2022.

The forum consisted of introducing ASEZ activities on combating cyberbullying, along with lectures and Q&A from the panelists. The forum included Lieutenant David Godwin, and Community Relations Officers from the Middletown Police Department. .

Through this forum, the audience, consisting of middle school, high school, and university students, came to learn about what cyberbullying is. They learned grim statistics on cyberbullying, the effects of cyberbullying, and various stories of cyberbullying incidents. Kayla Detruil mentioned about the harmful effect of cyberbullying, saying, “What you put on the Internet never goes away no matter how hard you try.”

The panelists shared real examples of cyberbullying that they dealt with on a daily basis. Even police officers experience cyberbullying and talked about it. Moreover, they shared the importance of being responsible when using social media, emphasizing that we should not just understand cyberbullying but take actions to prevent it.

They also highlighted the role of parents in preventing online violence, saying that it is very important to detect whether or not your child is exposed to online violence and know how to cope with it. Yolanda Williams, a mother of three boys, said, “I’ve learned how important it is for parents to be involved and guide their children to make conscious decisions of what should be shared with the world,” and expressed that she would promote cyberbullying and minimize the impact on the victims.

After the vibrant Q&A, Middletown Police Department signed an MOU with ASEZ to reduce crime, and pledged to work with ASEZ to combat cyberbullying.

Lieutenant Godwin mentioned about the importance of education and praised ASEZ, saying, “The presentation was unbelievable and you guys are skilled at what you do.”

Police Officer Jay Bodell expressed, “Cyberbullying is for everyone. You’re all doing amazing work . . . You make people like me and my job easier.”

Deja, a Middlesex Community College undergrad, said, “It was touching to see a lot of support actually coming from our community, including the Middletown Police,” expressing gratitude to the police officers for their support to ASEZ.

Together with our local heroes who work for others behind the scenes, ASEZ will strive to create a safer online experience.