What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is threatening, lying about, stalking or otherwise harassing a person online or via other electronic communication devices like a cell phone. It is becoming a bigger problem as more and more people spend time on the Internet. There are a number of behaviors that are considered cyberbullying, including:
• Sending harassing messages
• Impersonating another person and gaining trust
• Posting someone elses’ personal information
• Posting false or unsavory information about another person
• Posting private or doctored pictures about another person
• Using the Internet to encourage others to bully the victim
Why is Cyberbullying So Serious?
It may seem like cyberbullying is a trivial matter. Even if you believe that in-person bullying is a problem, it might seem like there is little damage that can be done online. This is far from the truth, however. Cyberbullying can be even more dangerous than in-person incidents:
• It can be more difficult to stop an online bully
• Emotional violence can be more damaging than physical violence
• Cyberbullying can have long term effects as gossip, lies, photos and videos stay long after bruises fade.
• Cyberbullying follows people into the home, which would normally be considered a safe haven from this type of activity.
• It is easy to impersonate another person online, gain someone’s trust and then turn on them.
Why is Cyberbullying So Difficult to Stop?
• Traditional bullies might be suspended from school, banned from certain places or activities or even arrested, but cyberbullies are more elusive.
• The anonymity of the Internet makes it difficult to be sure who is doing the bullying
• The anonymity of the Internet makes cyberbullies, especially kids, bolder.
• Cyberbullying can cross state and even international lines, making it nearly impossible to prosecute.
• Cyberbullies may think they can’t be caught or punished.
• Others may trivialize the damage the cyberbully is doing.
How to Prevent Your Child from Being Victimized
Be your child’s support system. The biggest way to prevent your child from being a victim is to keep the lines of communication open. The means walking a fine line between a concerned caregiver and an overprotective parent. Your child needs to feel that he or she can come to you without negative repercussions. If they are afraid you’ll ban them from the Internet or keep them from going out with friends, they will not confide in you. It also means listening carefully and avoiding the tendency to trivialize what they are experiencing. It may not seem like a big deal to an adult that the most popular kids in school made fun of your child’s hair or clothes, but it can be a serious blow to the self-esteem of a child or teen.
Be firm. Set rules regarding when and how long your child can be online. Accessing the Internet is akin to inviting someone into your home, so you may choose to only allow Web time when you’re at home. Use Internet filters, timers, and whatever else you need to do to protect your child.
Know your child. This is very important. Kids who are already suffering from low self-esteem or depression are prime targets for cyberbullying. It can be tempting to assume that your child is just going through a phase or that they’re just in a “bad mood,” but you are better off seeking professional help if there is a problem than simply waiting things out.
Know the danger signs. Your child may become more withdrawn or moody. They may spend more time online, or may refuse to use the computer altogether. They may cut off ties with friends. If your child gives any indication that they are being bullied on or offline, take it seriously.
Educate. Teach your child what to do in cases where they feel threatened or bullied. They should ignore the offender and contact an adult immediately. They should never engage with the person who is threatening them as that is only encouragement for the behaviors to continue. As an adult, if you feel threatened by someone online, contact the police just to be safe. You can also use built-in measures on certain websites, such as ignoring or reporting someone else.
Cyberbullying and Bullying Advice for Teens and Tweens
For anyone dealing with cyberbullies and regular bullies, it can feel hopeless. This bullying advice is designed to help you stop the bullying, get support, and stay positive. Not all of the advice will make sense for each person, so choose the bullying advice that works for you. The most important thing is that you reach out for help. You don't have to deal with it by yourself.
• Talk to a trusted adult, whether it’s a parent, grandparent, aunt/uncle, teacher, coach, youth group leader or priest. Ask for their help. Keep asking until you find someone who can and will help you.
• Don’t let the bullies know you’re upset. Bullies are trying to hurt your feelings and make you angry, scared and embarrassed. It’s hard, but try not to show when they’re getting to you. Your best defense is to stay calm and/or laugh it off. Don’t reply in anger online.
• Stand up for yourself by telling bullies clearly and calmly to “Stop.” Walk away or turn off your computer or phone.
• Ask for a mediator. Sometimes bullies are angry about something they think you may have said or done. Sitting down with an impartial adult or peer mediator can help resolve the disagreement so it doesn’t go any further.
• Find a support group. If possible, make friends who are not connected to the bullying group. If the bullies are at school, look into joining a group, team or activity away from school.
• Find a local peer counseling group or hotline. Sometimes it helps to talk with someone you don’t know who has gone through something similar. Your school guidance counselor or nurse can usually help you find local resources.
• Don’t bully others. You may be tempted to lash out at someone else, or to “get even” with the bullies, but doing so can make the situation worse and even get you into serious trouble.
• Keep a journal. Write down the times you felt bullied. Not only can it help to put your feelings on paper, but it is also useful to keep a record of the experiences in case you need to show the history to someone else.
• Don’t provide ammunition. Avoid taking suggestive photos, sharing too much information online or friending people you don’t know/trust.
• Cancel social networking, email and cell phone accounts and open new accounts. Share the new information with smaller groups of friends. Unfriend or block the people who are involved in the bullying. Don’t let the bullies follow you into your own home by reading their comments online.
• Don’t give up. Bullying is not OK. You have a right to feel safe in school, in your home and around your community.
• Remember that it WILL get better. You aren't the only person going through this. As bad as it may seem, you can get through it.
• CONTACTS in AUSTRALIA
• Kids Help Line:1800 55 1800 or www.kidshelponline.com.au
• Life Line: 13 11 14 or www.lifeline.com.au
• NetAlert – Protecting Australian Families Online:
1800 880 176 or visit www.netalert.gov.au/
• Internet Health and Safety Rescources and Teaching:
Essential Resources for Cyber Safety: www.cybersafeworld.com
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
• Tom Wood's Complete Guide to Stopping Cyber-Bullying:
• The National Centre Against Bullying (NCAB) is a peak body working to advise and inform the Australian community on the issue of childhood bullying and the creation of safe schools and communities including the emerging issue of cyber safety.
NCAB is an initiative of The Alannah and Madeline Foundation. www.ncab.org.au
CONTACTS in THE U.S.A
For More Information
Check out the following resources to learn more about preventing cyberbullying:
• www.ncpc.org provides information about stopping cyberbullying before it starts.
• Stop Cyberbullying Before It Starts (PDF) provides useful information for parents.
• Cyberbullying.us provides cyberbullying research, stories, cases, downloads, fact sheets, tips and strategies, news headlines, a blog, and a number of other helpful resources on their comprehensive public service website.
• www.stopcyberbullying.org has a fun quiz to rate your online behavior, information about why some people cyberbully, and how to stop yourself from cyberbullying.
• www.wiredsafety.com provides information about what to do if you are cyberbullied.
• www.stopbullyingnow.com has information about what you can do to stop bullying.
All statistics from the 2006 Harris Interactive Cyberbullying Research Report, commissioned by the National Crime Prevention Council.
CONTACTS in THE UNITED KINGDOM
Anti-Bullying Network, Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AQ - Tel: 0131 651 6100.
Scottish anti-bullying forum set up by the Scottish Executive for teachers, parents and young people to share ideas on tackling bullying. A good example of a response to the need to involve a whole community in tackling the problem. However, the Network only deals with school bullying and is designed with the Scottish education system and Scottish legislation in mind. The website features a database of anti-bullying initiatives.
The Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum (NIABF) leads on the regional anti-bullying strategy.
It aims to raise the profile of bullying in the region, provide information, be inclusive of stakeholder views and influence policy on bullying.
For more information visit: www.niabf.org.uk
respectme, Scotland's Anti-Bullying Service was launched in March 2007 and is a Scottish Executive funded service managed by SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health), in partnership with LGBT Youth Scotland.
Every Child Matters
Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) guidance.
Department for children, schools and families
Information and guidance around school bullying from the Department for Education and Skills (Replaced by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) in 2007), including Bullying – A Charter for Action.
Government website for teachers at schools and PRUs. Useful information about forming partnerships to promote a safe and healthy environment for pupils and staff.
Website giving details of Kia Kaha, the New Zealand anti-bullying programme involving schools and communities.
Queensland Government - Education Policy and Procedures
An Australian site giving examples of anti-bullying policies for schools.
Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
Australian site giving information on the whole school approach, examples of best practice in schools, a sample code of conduct for all members of the school community, a sample anti-bullying policy and a resource booklet.
Anti-Bullying in NSW Schools
Australian site outlining common features of successful anti-bullying policies and offering examples of good practice in schools in New South Wales.
American Psychological Association
American Psychological Association search facility. You can find some useful articles on bullying by searching for bullying under most of the topic headings, particularly under children. The vast majority of studies and articles relate to school bullying.
There4me, an NSPCC initiative, provides information and support to young people between the ages of 12-16 years on a range of issues including bullying.
C:HAT - Children: Homes, Advice and Teaching
Working to engage with young people and adults in their life developing innovative projects that allow young people to make sustainable life choices.
Recruitment services tailored to specific aspects of education.
National Anti-Bullying Week - 17th-21st November 2008