By definition, cyberbullying is “the act of harassing someone online by sending or posting mean messages, usually anonymously.” In today’s world, cyberbullying is a serious issue. According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, between 2007 and 2015, the average lifetime cyberbullying victimization rate was 26.3%. The most recent study they conducted was last year (2015) on a group of 457 students. Of those 457 students, 34.4% said they were constantly (lifetime) cyberbullied, 15% said they had been cyberbullied in the previous 30 days, and 21% said they had been cyberbullied on or more times in the previous 30 days.
With all that bullying going on, one would think that the victims would alert someone to their abuse. However, according to nobullying.com, “only 1 in 10 victims will inform a parent or trusted adult of their abuse” and they are “2 to 9 times more likely to consider committing suicide.”
Maybe they’re too scared to tell someone? Maybe they don’t want to get hurt anymore than they already are? Maybe they somehow think they deserve to be bullied? Maybe they just don’t know how to or who to go to?
Whatever the reason, the fact still stands: people aren’t reporting cyberbullying.
SO WHAT CAN WE DO?
1. Tell them to stop.
Writing a clear message to the bully telling them not to contact you again probably won’t prevent them from attempting to bully you further, but it does help when you present evidence to the authorities.
2. Don’t respond to the bully.
Cyberbullies, and bullies in general, thrive off of fear and negative responses to their abuse. By not responding, you may not completely end the bullying, but there is the chance that they will get bored with you and your lack of response.
3. Make copies of all contact with the bully.
You cannot make a case to the authorities about a bully if you have no physical evidence to support your claim. Take screenshots, copy the messages to a document, print them out, etc. It’s always best to have hard copies anyway, in case something happens to your computer/phone.
4. Block the bully.
Remove their contact information from your phone/computer/social media/etc. They can’t bother or abuse you if they can’t reach you.
5. Report the bully to the authorities.
Tell your parents, school administration, the online service providers, mentor, law enforcement, etc. Who you contact is all determined on where the bullying is taking place. If the cyberbully has threatened you, your family, or anyone else with physical harm you need to contact the police immediately, or have your parents file a report if you are a minor.
The following links are just a couple examples to show you how and who to report your abuse to:
Cyberbullying may never stop, but that doesn’t mean that you or your loved ones have to just sit there and take the abuse. Speak up, fight for yourself, and make a difference, one bully at a time.