Cyberbullying and what can be done about it

It is important to remember that Bullying is abusive behavior and should be approached in the same manner as domestic abuse and assault. It is not just the act of physically tormenting a victim. Communication abuse includes offensive slurs, name-calling, and making insults that affect the physical, mental, emotional health of another human being. Some types of bullying behavior may overlap with others. Unwelcome sexual conduct, hostility towards race and sexuality, and discrimination based on identity are all encompassed as types of bullying behavior (What is bullying? 2014). Threats and acts of violence are used repetitively as an attack on the victim. In 2010, teen Alexis Pilkington was bullied online to the point of committing suicide (Bosker 2010). Even after her death, the bullies continued to harass her Facebook page. That same year, 9% of students in grades 6-12 have experienced cyberbullying (What is Cyberbullying 2013). In 2013, 15% of high school students were bullied online. Cyberbullying continues to grow, severely affecting kids and teens, even driving them to the point of suicide.

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Anonymous postings encourage harassment and stalking, making it easier for offenders to hide from the consequences. People who engage in this behavior may not realize how much their actions affect themselves and the people they engage with. Anonymous messages can be difficult to trace, but at the same time it is difficult to delete after it have been sent (What is Cyberbullying 2013).
If you are bullied, one of the best way to defend yourself is to keep track of the abuse. Screen capture messages, record video and audio of the abuse, and keep track of the time, date, and who it was from. What the bullies are doing to you is assault and it is against the law. Threats of death and rape are punishable crimes. It is not protected speech. Even if the bully is anonymous, Law enforcement could trace the bully with clues such as an I.P. address or profile search. Users leave a digital footprint that cannot be deleted (Shivinder 2012).

There are some unpleasant and distressing behaviors that are not considered bullying. Disagreement on ideas, single-episode attacks (a single fight or conflict), and social rejection are not considered bullying (What is bullying? 2014). However each of those actions can be used deliberately as a bullying tool. A single rejection for friendship or romance is not considered repeat abuse. But it can be used as part of a wider campaign of covert bullying that includes damaging the victim’s reputation, humiliation, intentionally excluding from social activities, and spreading rumors and gossip (Relational Aggression 2014). Disagreeing with one another’s beliefs or argument is not bullying, unless it escalates into retaliation.

What to do if someone bullies you?

  • Ignore the bully. Sometimes bullies will continue the abuse when there is a response.
  • Save everything. Keep screen shots, videos, photos, e-mails, and any evidence that will help you in the court of law. Share it only with a trusted family member and a lawyer. Just like when police catch the bad guy in the movies, “anything you say will be used against you.” Bullies won’t know what’s coming to them.
  • Don’t fight back. Stay on the defense side. Don’t sink to the bully’s level.
  • Tell someone about it. Talk to a teacher, parent, caregiver, counselor, and even law enforcement officer. What the bullies is doing is not a joke– it is against the law.
  • Understand it is not your fault. Do not believe the bully. No one ever deserves abuse, no matter what the bully says.
  • Report the bully. Many social network services have a report button or form to fill out. It is a violation of the terms of service for most social media sites. You deserve to use the service in peace.
  • Block all communication with the bully. Keep some record of the abuse, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep being bullied until someone stop them. Block their phone number and social media profile.

Cyberbullying and bullying face-to-face are not exclusively different. Cyberbullying just comes with electronic devices and web technology. People can be bullied by text messages, e-mails, social media, and fake profiles (What is Cyberbullying 2013). Because communication devices are used inside homes, the bullying does not just stop at school. It follows the victim home, where it can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even when the victim is physically alone (What is Cyberbullying 2013). The common misconception among users is that people should expect to be bullied by “trolls” on the Internet. This is false. It is not your fault and no one ever deserves to be bullied, especially on the Internet.

 

Teens and Kids React to Bullying

Watch the two videos of Teens React and Kids React.

 

 

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