What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is the use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target another person. Cyberbullying comes in many forms. If you have a device that can get online, you can encounter it.
“Unless and until our society recognises cyber bullying for what it is, the suffering of thousands of silent victims will continue.”
Cyberbullying can be in different forms, for example:
- Threatening to commit acts of violence.
- Posting any kind of humiliating content of the victim.
- Stalking by means of calls, messages, etc..
- Threats of child pornography.
- Hacking the victim’s account.
- Sending or posting vulgar messages online.
Cyberbullying – Where/When/How/Why?
Cyberbullying can take place in many places, all of which are related to the Internet. Social media platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter, are among the most common places where bullying happens
Cyberbullying quite simply started when the internet became a common tool for anonymous users to say what they please without thinking of the consequences to the other anonymous users on the internet.
The rise of Cyberbullying began as a problem when parents stopped putting their foot down, private computers and unmonitored access to the Internet. The problems started due to a lack of guidelines.
There are two kinds of cyberbullying, direct attacks (messages sent to your kids directly) and cyberbullying by proxy (using others to help cyberbully the victim, either with or without the accomplice’s knowledge).
Because cyberbullying by proxy often gets adults involved in the harassment, it is much more dangerous.
A Lot of people are often cyberbullied because the bullier thinks that the person on the other side of the internet won’t come to them EVER.
Before you Post, THINK
T: Is It TRUE?
H: Is It Helpful?
I: Is It Inspiring?
N: Is It Necessary?
K: Is It Kind?
The Mind Behind the Bully
They lack personal awareness
It appears that most bullies are completely unaware of how they are perceived. Often they find ways to justify their behaviour, and have no concept of how their peers actually see them.
They have low self esteem
Bullies are made, not born, and as I said before, this behavior is typically fostered at a very young age.
They need to feel in charge of someone
This lack of self esteem can also foster a need to be in control of something.
Effects of Cyberbullying?
Kids Who are Bullied
Kids who are bullied are more likely to experience:
- Depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. These issues may persist into adulthood.
- Health complaints
- Decreased academic achievement
Kids Who Bully Others
Kids who bully are more likely to:
- Get into fights, vandalize property, and drop out of school
- Be abusive toward their romantic partners, spouses, or children as adults
Signs Your Child May Be a Victim of Cyberbullying
- Avoids the computer, cell phone, and other technological devices or appears stressed when receiving an e-mail, instant message, or text
- Withdraws from family and friends or acts reluctant to attend school and social events
- Avoids conversations about computer use
- Exhibits signs of low self-esteem including depression and/or fear
- Has declining grades
- Has poor eating or sleeping habits
- Makes excuses to stay away from school
- Loses weight or changes appearance to try and fit into a group
- Exhibits personality changes such as disproportionate anger, depression, crying spells.
What to Do When Cyberbullying Happens
- If you notice warning signs that a child may be involved in cyberbullying, take steps to investigate that child’s digital behavior. Cyberbullying is a form of bullying, and adults should take the same approach to address it.
- Start a discussion with your child – Let them know that they can trust you and that they shouldn’t deal with bullying alone.
- Walk away or leave the online conversation.
- Keep track of the bullying (write it down and/or save a screenshot of the online message).
- Report criminal offences, such as threats, assaults and sexual exploitation to the local police detachment.
- Report unwanted text messages to your telephone service provider.
- If you feel it’s safe to do so, tell the bully to stop.
- Find friends/students/youth or an adult who can help stop it.
- Fill out an anonymous letter and drop it off to a teacher or any adult you trust.
Cyberbullying and the law
Some forms of bullying can even be considered illegal. These include:
Repeated tormenting online, with texts, phone calls, and/or emails causing the other person to fear for their safety
Sharing intimate photos and videos of minors (under the age of 18)
Uttering Threats and Extortion
Threatening to share someone’s personal information to others if they don’t do what you want them to do
Threats or acts of non-consensual force, violence, bodily harm, or destruction of personal property
Creating a fake online profile to ruin someone’s reputation
Spreading rumours about someone
Being safe from bullies online
- Do not share your private information like passwords, name and address, phone numbers with people you don’t know. This can also include sharing of photos of yourself, your friends and your family
- Don’t respond to messages when you are angry or hurt – either to strangers and also to people you know. This will often encourage them to continue or increase their harassment of you
- Log out and stop messaging if you feel you are being harassed
- Remember you have the option to block, delete and report anyone who is harassing you online and on your mobile
- Report online bullying to the social media site and block the person responsible.
- Keep a record of calls, messages, posts and emails that may be hurtful or harmful to you