Digital Self-harm – The Little Talked About Self-Cyberbullying

Last week, I posted a blog article about an Instagram threat, targeting a student in San Dimas. Today, it was revealed by ABC News, the victim had posted the threat herself. This may come as a complete shock to most of the people in San Dimas and reading this article, but this is not as uncommon as they may think.

I have spent numerous hours investigating an online threat. I interviewed student after student, only to discover that my “victim” had concocted the whole threat. It was a kind of digital Munchausen. They were seeking attention and sympathy.

In a 2012 study in Massachusetts, 10 percent of college freshmen reported they had cyber-bullied themselves in High School. The self-reported self-harmers said they were attempting to gain attention of a peer, encourage others “to worry about me,” or to “get adult attention. Ultimately, the self-harming strategy is not successful. More than half of the digital self-harmers said that they felt worse afterwards.

The San Dimas case only reinforces the fact that parents need to be in their child’s social media world.

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About the Author

Clayton Cranford
Clayton Cranford is a retired Sergeant from Orange County Sheriff's Department in California and owner of Total Safety Solutions LLC. Clayton is one of the nation’s leading law enforcement educators on social media, child safety, and behavioral threat assessments. Clayton is the author of the definitive book on cyber safety for families, “Parenting in the Digital World.” Clayton has more than 20 years of teaching experience and was awarded the 2015 National Bullying Prevention Award from the School Safety Advocacy Council, and the 2015 American Legion Medal of Merit. Clayton was a member of the County's Behavioral Threat Assessment Team, Crisis Negotiation Team, School Resource Officer program, and Juvenile Bureau.