Have you been bullied or harassed online? The answer is likely yes. Especially if you are a woman, minority or teen. Over 75% of online users have experienced some kind of harassment, even if it wasn’t directed at them specifically but rather a group they are part of.
Despite all the wonders of the internet, there are also inherent risks. Though statistically people are not actually being bullied more than in real life, the internet allows bullies constant access to their victims and therefore with cyber bullying the bullying is amplified and the repercussions are worse. When I went to high school, one teen calling another a loser could be overhead by a dozen bystanders. Now if a teen calls out another teen on social media, that can be witnessed by the entire school or the world depending on the platform.
Additionally, bullies feel a sense of security to critique others behind the safety of their computer screen or even the anonymity of some networks. Online, bullies can also be referred to as trolls. Internet trolls aim to intentionally upset people by posting defamatory or upsetting posts.
The number one reason children do not report cyberbullying or online harassment to their parents is the fear that their electronic device will be taken away. This doubly punishes the child: first with the bullying and second with the disconnection from their social world. Parents need to make sure that kids know they can come to them with their online concerns and that it will not result in them being cut off.
What do you if you or your child is being bullied?
- First step is to ignore or cut ties with the bully. If the victim doesn’t ‘bite’ then the bullying often stops.
- Use the protective measure in the technology to stop the connection. If the bullying is happening on a social network, there are many ways that bully can be blocked. You could also remove the bully from buddy lists on chat applications.
- If you or your child continues to be harassed or threatened, record all instances of the bullying using screen shots or video from another device.
When should you report a bully?
- Depends on the severity. You may want to start with the bully’s parents if younger or your school. If there are threats, criminal harassment or hate crimes then contact the police. They have access to the networks and are able to get locations and names of users even in the cases when they appear to be anonymous.
As always, knowledge is your most powerful tool. Most networks allow you to report bullying and block people who you don’t want. For severe bullying, seek help from police.
For more tips and resources including a course and webinar, visit the Bullying Awareness Week website:
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