guide to: How to prevent cyberbullying
We’ve been updating you about the tragic cases of cyberbullying taken to the extreme. For example, one mother in Westchester County, N.Y., discovered Formspring when her daughter came to her, sobbing, after reading putdown after putdown. We also reported on the suicides committed by two 11-year-olds who could no longer withstand homophobic cyber bullying. Read below and find a list of ways to prevent this horrible trend and take a stand against cyberbullying:
A decade ago, bullies could be found on the school playground tormenting their classmates with verbal abuse and physical intimidation. Modern technology has obliterated the boundaries of recess torment by allowing old-school bullying to go digital. Cyberbullying affects almost half of all American teens and can end with tragic consequences — like suicide.
Cyberbullies spread digital drama by sending text messages, uploading photos or distributing false information meant to hurt or embarrass their victims. Once sensitive information hits the web, it’s accessible to the bully and victim’s online communities. Cyberbullying is not harmless. It’s not funny. And it certainly is not acceptable. Preventing cyberbullying requires a widespread commitment to take action against this disturbing trend.
Step One: Know the boundaries.
Cyberbullying abuse often involves victims who know their bullies personally. Cyberbullying can even evolve out of a dysfunctional friendship or dating relationship. Any kind of obsessive, controlling behavior can be classified as cyberbullying and ultimately, emotional abuse. Here’s what you need to watch for:
• Constant texting
• Constant instant messaging
• Online spying
• Threatening messages
If you feel threatened or scared by messages you have received from someone you know, get help immediately. Talk to someone you trust or contact the pros for help in safely ending an abusive relationship.
Step Two: Protect your personal information.
You have the right to privacy. No one should ever access your information without your expressed consent, and there are some details about your life that no one else needs to know. Keep sensitive information like your address, where you work, social security number, and date of birth private. It’s also a good idea to keep your passwords to yourself and change them every few months.
Step Three: Take control.
If you find yourself falling victim to harmful images or harassing words being disseminated throughout the web, its important to keep a level head and stay in control of the situation.
Never accept friend requests from people you don’t know and don’t be afraid to un-friend people who cross the line. You are not obligated to accept friend requests, respond to messages, or acknowledge communication if you don’t want to. It’s 100 percent your decision.
Don’t second guess yourself. If someone is sending you harassing messages or sharing information (real or fabricated) about you — report it. Contact the website administrator to report online bullying, or even the police, if things get bad.
Keep track of messages, texts, images, and other threatening digital abuse. That way if you choose to report, it you have a good record of the harassment.
Step Four: Don’t fight back.
Don’t try to take on a cyberbully — or best them. Resist the urge to react.
Block all communication with the cyberbully. Don’t read messages that you think are meant to be intimidating (unless of course you believe you will need evidence to show the police or other authorities). Delete them without opening them.
Let someone know about the bullying. Contact a trusted parent, friend, teacher — or the authorities — about the situation and ask for help.
Step Five: Be part of the solution.
Most cyberbullies don’t understand — or don’t care — about the emotional damages their actions cause for others. Unfortunately, even digital words cause real life problems. The solution to cyberbullying is a widespread refusal to tolerate it.
Don’t be a bully. Make sure your actions aren’t being perceived as “cyberbullying” by someone else. Be respectful with the words and images you share online. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face — don’t say it online.
Get educated. Learn the facts on cyberbullying and the damage it causes. Share what you learn and talk to your friends about not cyberbullying others.
Speak up. Always report cyberbullying activity. If you think the cyberbully is not aware of the damage they are causing, help them understand very clear boundaries. If they are being intentionally malicious, cut off communication.
Speak out. Become an advocate against cyberbullying. By going public with your commitment to prevent cyberbullying, you might just inspire others to do the same. Taking action against cyberbullying can be as simple as refusing to pass along malicious messages.