Bullying victims suffer many effects both physically and emotionally. These effects range from feeling helpless, humiliated, angry, depressed, or even suicidal. Bullying is no longer limited to the school halls, playgrounds, and street corners. Technology allows cyberbullying to occur anywhere including your home, smartphones, emails, texts, and social media. Bullying has become relentless twenty-four hours a day to include hundreds of people – anonymously. Bullying rather in face to face or online should never be tolerated. We must arm ourselves with knowledge and best practices to protect our ourselves and children from the growing problem of bullying and cyberbullying.
Tips for dealing with a Cyberbully
There are many reasons why bullies may target you. It is important to remember that you’re not alone. But most importantly you don’t have to put up with it. There is no one and done solution to bullying or cyberbullying. Here are steps to take if you find yourself or someone you know becoming a victim to bullying or cyberbullying.
What is best is to go to people we trust for encouragement and support. Talk to a parent, teacher, counselor, or trusted friends-who are zero tolerance to any kind of bullying).
- Distance yourself from social media, texts or emails. And interact with people who support you.
- Don’t respond to any messages or posts.
- Keep an offline diary. Save the evidence of the cyberbullying by printing emails, take screenshots of text or social media messages, and take notes about the days, times and people involved in the bullying incidents.
- Prevent communications by blocking or muting cyberbullies
- Do not retaliate against the perpetrator. Just document the communication.
Tips on How Parents and Teachers Can Stop Bullying or Cyberbullying
The best tip is always monitoring your child’s use of technology and relationships even if the child resents it.
- Limit the number of hours and time frames your child is online or uses their phone
- Set parental controls apps on phones and tablets. Set filters on computers and all devices to block inappropriate web content. Find apps to help monitor your child’s online activities.
- Know who your child communicates with online
- Know your child’s passwords
- Encourage your child to tell you or a trusted adult if they are targeted by bullies or cyberbullies.
- Make sure they are reassured they will not lose computer or phone privileges.
- And above all they do not have to put up with bullying nor do they deserve to be treated in ill regard.
Steps for a Kinder World
Above all the greatest prevention is to raise awareness of bullying and cyberbullying. As I indicated there is not a one and done solution but the action of responsibility of each us to create a kinder world where bullying or cyberbullying has no place among us. So, let’s make the good people and communities online help the internet be kind and positive through these steps we all can take part in.
- Make Their Day
Generate content worth sharing by making it positive and uplifting. Celebrate the positive in recent accomplishments, birthdays and your mission should be to uplift others. Share cute videos of babies or animals such as dogs, cats or even horses and use laughable memes to create positivity online.
- Positive Discussions and comments
Create positive vibes when you see others sharing contributing positive content by giving compliments on it. If others are upset with the content at least the good vibes will be present especially when you post with positive statements.
Be your own KonMari online by deleting accounts or users who do not spark joy. If you are following something that makes you feel bad about yourself or the world at large simply unfollow them. It’s a positive step to get rid of the cringe and hate.
- Tell them about good experiences
Most of the time when reviews are given it’s because you have had a bad experience with online shopping, mobile ordering, a visit to local retail store or restaurant. However, to create positive energy on the internet leave a message of well-deserved comments and really love on them to let them know.
- Offer advice
Make someone feel a little less alone by offering your wisdom on when someone asks a pressing question. Google may have an answer to questions but not the advice of experience within the community of people we value. So, answer in the most positive way possible.
- Be the Keeper of Community Standards
To make the internet a kinder place anonymously reports on bullying, hate posts or comments that go against community standards. Don’t rely on artificial intelligence to catch the negative images, videos or comments this is where a human touch is needed.
We can’t get away from all things negative. But when we come across something that upsets you the best resolve is to unplug from the internet.
The Law and Resources
Cyberbullying goes against the terms of agreement for social sites. The actions of cyberbullying breach harassment rather in the form of stalking or sexual, and anti-discrimination laws or violate school codes. Every state makes its own laws in dealing with Bullying and Cyberbullying. The Texas Education Code 37.0832 defines Bullying as Engaging in written or verbal expression, expression through electronic means, or physical conduct that occurs on school property or in a vehicle that is operated by a district. More information on this law and Texas Project FIRST can be found at https://www.texasprojectfirst.org/node/297
Also, the Great State of Texas has SB 179: David’s Law –Texas’ new anti-bullying law that addresses off-campus cyberbullying. The bill requires school districts to include cyberbullying in their district bullying policies and notify parents on or before the third business day after the date the incident is reported, and to notify the parents of the alleged aggressor within a reasonable amount of time. Also, schools have the authority to investigate cyberbullying and to work with law enforcement on such investigations.
Here are some other charges that apply to the laws on Cyberbullying:
- Identity theft, password theft, or hacking can violate state and federal laws
- It is punishable to possessing or distributing child pornography. Sexting or forwarding a sext (text messages with sexual content) is considered pornography, If convicted, a sexter may be required to register as a sex offender, even if they’re a minor. Recently, the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott signed a bill into law making it class C misdemeanor to electronically transmit sexually explicit material without the recipient’s consent.
- An arrest can be made if you as an adult perpetrates or allows cyberbullying, which results in a felony or misdemeanor if convicted.
- When charged with cyberbullying in the U.S. it can result in a charge of juvenile delinquency or a misdemeanor cyber-harassment charge.
Whether a victim of bullying or cyberbullying is found on the school campus or online we know the issue has changed the way we must practice how to protect ourselves and children. The best practices are to bring awareness on the issue and build a better world online or face to face. If you find bullying or cyberbullying leads to you or someone you know feeling suicidal, please call 1-800-273-8255 in the U.S. or visit IASP or Suicide.org to find a helpline in your country.