Suicide is a rare outcome of cyber-bullying, Hinduja added.
Hinduja said parents of bullying victims should not take away a child's cell phone or computer privileges, because that is a punishment that will discourage the child from telling parents about harassment.
Parents of bullies should try to cultivate empathy by teaching their children to understand the impact that unkind words or harassing messages might have. If the behavior continues, the bully's parents need to make sure there are consequences, he said.
Many children and teens have been both victim and bully, Hinduja said.
The solution to the problem lies in shifting the way the community responds to cyber-bullying, not in school-based policies that strong-arm students, Hinduja said. Children and teens won't stop to read school manuals to research the consequences before jumping on line and sending a mean message. Children must make the change themselves, with support and guidance from the adults in their lives, Hinduja said.
But Dariann Malloy, a 17-year-old Maryvale junior from Owings Mills, said she thinks schools hold the key to protecting students from cyber-bullying.
"In these types of situations, the schools are really the only people that have the authority to try and stop it," she said. "Your parents can go and talk to the other person's parents, but that could go either way. It could make it a lot worse or it could make it better, but chances are it will get a lot worse, because you're having your parents go and fight your battles for you."
Chuck Buckler of the Maryland State Department of Education said curbing online harassment will take the efforts of schools, parents and the youth.
More collaboration is needed between educators, law enforcement, juvenile services and bystanders, who have a role in prevention and intervention, said Buckler, branch chief of student services and alternative programs.
State law governs cyber-bullying that occurs on school property, at a school event, on the bus, or if it interferes with a student's education, performance or physical or psychological well-being.
The General Assembly passed the legislation in 2008, requiring the state's 24 local districts to adopt the state standards on cyber-bullying as a guidepost for enforcement. District-level policies were then reviewed by a state task force for approval.
State law requires school districts to report bullying incidents. In the 2010-2011 school year, the reported incidents of bullying, harassment and intimidation included 409 in Anne Arundel County, 541 in Baltimore City, 510 in Baltimore County, 314 in Carroll, 54 in Harford, and 300 in Howard.
The district's consequences are tied to the schools' code of conduct for students. Discipline depends on the severity of the incident and whether it is a repeated action, Buckler said.
A child could be enrolled in counseling, be given detention, sent to school on Saturday, told to write a letter of apology, be referred to law enforcement or be suspended, he said.
Maryland put more provisions in place last year to require private schools, like public ones, to have anti-bullying policies. Del. Jeffrey Waldstreicher, a Montgomery County Democrat, sponsored the legislation.
Morgan Bell, a 15-year-old Maryvale sophomore from Towson, said any child or teen could be a victim of cyber-bullying.
"It's amazing that you can have a nurturing family and go to a good school and it still happens," Morgan said. "On the Internet, that all can disappear [for a victim]. ...
"Parents have to be understanding. Be attentive."
Morgan's classmate, 15-year-old Jade Jackson of Pikesville, said children and teens being bullied on-line need to tell an adult so the abuse doesn't get worse.
"You can see the storm about to come and you just want to stop it," she said.
Baltimore Sun reporter Liz Bowie contributed to this report.