If you’re a parent, you’ve undoubtedly heard about cyberbullying in the media. If you’re a student, there’s a good chance you’ve not only heard about it, you may have been the victim of a cyberbully, or maybe one of your friends has been the target of an attack. The fact is, with the explosive growth the Internet has had since the early 1990’s, cyberbullying has become more and more prevalent and no one seems to be immune.
Just like bullies in the real world, cyberbullies get pleasure from tormenting their victims and the feeling of power from doing it. The reasons for their actions vary, but the end result is almost always the same for the victim: pain, hurt, revulsion, broken confidence, and in the worst cases, death. There’s no guarantee that you, a friend, or a loved one won’t be bullied online, but there are steps that you can take to help lessen their effect and maybe even get them to stop altogether.
Keeping in mind that every case is different, here are some tips that parents, students, and anyone else who may be dealing with a bully can use to help diffuse the situation. With any luck the days of dealing with threatening and/or harassing people will be short lived.
Block any cyberbully you meet online:
If they can’t contact you, it’s much harder to annoy you. Most services and/or social networking websites have a way to block another user, and if you or someone you know is being bothered, don’t be afraid of blocking them.
Remember that cyberbullying is a big deal:
It’s never OK for anyone to harass you, belittle you, or threaten to harm you. If you’re dealing with a bully, make sure to tell a trusted person like a parent, guardian, or teacher. The quicker a responsible adult knows about the situation, the quicker it can be resolved.
Don’t delete any threatening or harassing messages:
In many cases bullying comes down to a “he said/she said” scenario. If you’ve been bullied and you have hard evidence, keep it to prove your case. Without it, you’ll have a hard time convincing anyone else otherwise.
Don’t pass along cyberbullying messages:
If a friend or relative asks you to forward anything harassing to someone else, or if they ask you to join in harassing someone, just say no. Don’t be a part of the problem, be part of the solution.
Don’t open or read messages from a cyberbully:
It may be hard to do, but if someone continually sends you emails, instant messages, or phone calls that threaten or harass you, don’t respond. Most bullies thrive on your reaction, and not letting them get to you lessens the likelihood that they’ll continue.
Report cyberbullying to a trusted adult:
Friends, parents, teachers, law enforcement officials… any of these people can help you if you’re being cyberbullied. And if you’re threatened with physical harm, inform the local police immediately.
Keeping safe from cyberbullies is often a matter of removing their ability to bother you and/or just ignoring them. If that doesn’t work, it’s time to get other people involved. Don’t be a victim, stand up for your rights, and be safe!