If you are in charge of a youth group or have parents that need more education on the topic, send them this article.
What Is Cyberbullying?
When you hear the word, “Bully”, you probably picture a big, tough guy who likes to stuff smaller kids into lockers. These kinds of bullies are easy to spot, but how do you identify cyberbullying? It’s more difficult.
Cyberbullying might not involve physical injury, but that doesn’t mean that it’s less serious. Virtual harassment can be just as painful as face-to-face bullying. It doesn’t matter if you’re throwing punches or hurling insults, bullying is bullying.
Because cyberbullying happens online, anyone with a computer or smartphone can be a cyberbully. It might not leave physical scars or bruises, but can be as painful as face-to-face bullying. The impact can also last longer. Victims of cyberbullying experience real pain. Cyberbullying isn’t harmless. Symptoms or effects can include:
- Low self-esteem
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Self-harm and suicidal ideation
How To Spot It And Stop It?
Because cyberbullying doesn’t involve physical abuse, it’s sometimes harder to recognize. Cyberbullies use technology and social media to ridicule, harass, or say threatening things to others. Cyberbullying can include:
- Nasty comments on someone’s Facebook or YouTube page etc.
- Posting or sharing embarrassing photos or videos.
- Sending threatening emails or text messages
Cyberbullying Is A Crime
In many places, this can lead to criminal charges. Several states in the United States and other countries have cyberbullying laws and precedent has been set that includes jail time.
What To Do About It?
Whether an adult or youth, I think the responses can be the same. Anyone can be targeted by a cyberbully. Here are some things you can do if you are ever harassed:
- Inform others. If you are a student, tell a parent immediately. Adults should begin to look at communication with others for support such as a pastor and definitely begin the process of talking with the police.
- Don’t delete. Your first instinct might be to delete a hateful message — but don’t. Some cyberbullying and cyberstalking cases end up in court. You might need proof that you are being targeted. Some incidences require a restraining order and contact via any electronic communication is a violation of that.
- Change your settings. Most social media sites allow you to control who has access to your pages. Change your privacy settings so that only your friends have access and then block the offender completely. You may need to change your email or contact your internet and phone providers for further blocking.
Do you know any resources or tips to help deal with cyberbullying?