" Eventually, he began threatening to take his own life. Soon a circle of girls who dubbed themselves "the Evil Angels" were working around the clock to make Samatha's life hell. "Even now there are nights I relive the negative experiences in my dreams," she shared online."They can hide behind a screen name, remaining anonymous while the victim becomes increasingly vulnerable and defenseless ... I received instant messages and e-mails saying, 'We're going to kill you'; 'I wouldn't go to the bathroom alone if I were you'; and 'you better watch your back.' " A survey by the nonprofit i-SAFE America found that while almost half of kids had been bullied online, 58 percent never told an adult about it.1 problem," said attorney Parry Aftab, executive director of the nonprofit Wired "Lots of kids think it's worse to be bullied online than in person.
Silently he endured months of their online torture -- pronouncements like "You're a loser! Her saga began in sixth grade, when her best friend started a rumor that Samantha was lesbian.
Adolescents -- particularly girls -- have long exploited the rumor mill to humiliate a social outcast or a rival for a boy's attention. There are the online polls inviting participants to post salacious or critical assessments of their classmates -- as in "Who's the sluttiest girl at school ?
" or "Reasons to Hate Alex." There are the double agents who entice teens into e-mail chats about their crushes, fears, embarrassments -- and then post them for public ridicule.
It's hard to miss those Bay Area billboards claiming that 1 in 5 children has been sexually solicited online, although only a tiny fraction of those involve aggressive solicitations from someone believed to be over age 25.
What experts fear is that parents remain relatively unaware of the much more ordinary hazards for their children in cyberspace: Profiteers who run online pharmacy and gambling sites -- and couldn't care less about the ages of their customers.