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What is cyberbullying?  Cyberbullying is the same as traditional bullying, but it occurs primarily online and in social media.  The reason cyberbullying is such a hot topic right now is for the mere fact that it never stops.  Traditional bullying typically only occurs throughout the school day and stops at the end of the school day.  However, with cyberbullying, there is no escape from it.  Many students in this current day have access to the internet and social media in a variety of ways.  From computers to smartphones, many students have the easy of accessibility to either torment and harass or to be tormented or harassed via the internet.  Cyberbully is also far more serious an issue because the bully can hide behind the anonymity of the internet.  It’s far easier to say terrible mean things to another person when you don’t have to look them in the eye, face to face.

 

Here are some ways to prevent cyberbullying:

  1. Educate yourself to what cyberbully actually is and looks like.
  2. Be aware of what your students are looking at and experiencing, if you are an educator. If you are a student, be aware of your friends.
  3. Protect your passwords and never share private information with others. Try not to save passwords on public computers.
  4. Remember, whatever you place on the internet, will forever be on the internet. Only post  or send “PG” pictures of yourself.  Before sending or posting something, try to imagine what your grandmother would say if she saw this picture or read this post.
  5. Do not post anything that may compromise your reputation. People will judge you based on how you appear to them online. They will also give or deny you opportunities (jobs, scholarships, internships) based on this.
  6. Never open an email or read a message from someone whom you already know to be a bully. Sometimes things are better left unread. Delete them.
  7. Don’t be a cyberbully yourself! Treat others how you would want to be treated. This includes responding to social media, etc. Just because you cannot see the other person, doesn’t mean your words are not hurtful.

 

What To Do When Cyberbullying Happens:

Keep an eye out for warning signs, it doesn’t matter if you are a parent, teacher, or a student.  It’s up to all of us to stop cyberbullying and to support each other properly. Remember, cyberbullying is still a form of bullying, and adults should take the same approach to address it:

  • Support the student being bullied.
  • Address the bullying behavior of a the bully.
  • Show everyone that cyberbullying is taken seriously and not tolerated.

However, because cyberbullying happens online, responding to it requires a some additional approaches.

  • Keep a record of what is happening and where. Be diligent with this and take screenshots of harmful posts or content, if possible.
  • Most social media platforms and schools have clear policies and reporting processes. If you are a student and a classmate is cyberbullying, report it to a teacher or school staff. You can also contact app or social media platforms to report offensive content and have it removed. If a student has received physical threats, or if a potential crime or illegal behavior is occurring, report it to the police.

If everyone strives to support each other and focuses on the positive, then there will be no place for bullying of any kind.  But, it will take all of us, children and adults to stop bullying.  Because bullying is not only contained to schools or to those under the age of 18, many adults also face bullies and cyberbullies.  Be aware of each other and look out for each other, no matter your age.  Good Luck out there!

 

 

Author: Kelly Dale, School Psychologist

 

 


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