Cyberbullying is using the internet or other digital communication devices to send or post harmful or cruel text or images to bully others. Cyberbullying can be related to in school bullying. Sometimes a student who is being victimized at school is also being bullied online. Sometimes the student who is being victimized at school uses cyberbullying to retaliate against the school bully. Since there is no auditory or visual feedback that an action has caused harm, cyberbullying provides an illusion of invisibility and anonymity, removing concerns of detection and punishment.
Examples of cyberbullying:
- Sending cruel or threatening text or instant messages
- Creating websites that ridicule or threaten others
- Posting pictures of classmates to be rated
- Sending cruel or embarrassing emails through another person’s email account
- Tricking someone into instant messaging sensitive information and then forwarding it to others
- Taking an embarrassing picture of a person using a cell phone and sending the pictures to others
- Creating a web log (blog) that invites others to post cruel or threatening messages about a person
Warning signs that a child may be a victim of cyberbullying:
- Emotional upset, depression, anger, fear, especially if upset after using the internet
- Avoidance of friends, school or other activities
- Decline in grades
What can parents do to stop cyberbullying?
- Save all the evidence of cyberbullying
- Try to identify the cyberbully
- Send a clear message stating “Do not communicate with me again or I will contact the appropriate authorities.
- Contact the ISP (internet service provider), forward messages and request the account be terminated.
- Notify the website and request removal of inappropriate material
- Contact the phone company if bullying is happening through a cell phone.
- Contact the police if severe
- Discuss bullying and cyberbullying with your children
- Emphasize the importance of speaking out against cyberbullying and reporting it to an adult
Local law enforcement can also be contacted for assistance or for more information.