Bullying in any form is unacceptable, and it is important that if you are a victim of this abuse, you adopt strategies which enable you to remain strong.
Cyberbullying comes in many forms, but the common element is the use of technology like the internet and cell phones to harass a victim. The Cyberbullying Research Center defines the phenomenon as, “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cellphones, and other electronic devices.”
Cyberbullying can range from small-scale name-calling via social networking sites to persistent threatening text messages to unauthorized posting of personal pictures or videos to public websites. In cyberbullying the bully is protected by the anonymity of the Internet and the effects on the victim are magnified because more peers can see the bullying, and it's difficult if not impossible to erase its record.
Taking some smart precautions can help you avoid cyberbullying.
How can I protect myself?
- Make the most of privacy settings. Investigate what measures you can take to keep content private on the websites you use. On Facebook and other social networking sites, you can adjust your settings so that only the people you select are able to see your personal information and posts. It’s important to check these privacy settings frequently, because sites sometimes change their policies.
- Think before you post. Never forget that the internet is public. What you put out there can never be erased. If you wouldn’t say something in a room full of strangers, don’t say it via internet. Even letting someone know sensitive or embarrassing information about you via email can have unforeseen consequences.
- Keep personal information personal. Don’t reveal identifying details about yourself— address, phone number, school, credit card number, etc.—online. Passwords exist for a reason; sharing them with friends is like passing out copies of your house key to friends and strangers alike.
What can I do if I am a victim?
How can I react to cyberbullying?
Sometimes bullies are encouraged by seeing a reaction. Do not respond to minor teasing or name calling if you can avoid it.
Keep a record of bullying messages you receive in hard copy. It may be helpful so to verify what went on and who the bully is.
There is no reason to suffer alone when you are the target of bullying. Ask for help.
Stop all communication with the bully when possible. You may be able to block their phone number so you no longer receive their calls or texts. If that’s not possible, you might consider changing phone numbers. Facebook and instant messenger providers allow you to block other users so that they can no longer interact with you. If for some reason it’s not possible to block a cyberbully, you can always screen their calls and delete their messages without opening them.
Need to talk to someone?
Student Health Centre,
M Block, Dunedin
What shouldn't I do?
Don’t sink to the bully’s level. Starting your own cyberbullying campaign against the bully will get you nowhere, especially if you end up breaking laws or Otago Polythecnic rules.
Don’t forward bullying content or messages. If someone sends you a bullying message, forwarding it to a friend only expands the problem. You never know how far an email chain can go.
Don’t believe the bully. Don’t let bullies destroy your self-esteem. No one deserves to be harassed. Cyberbullies’ cowardly and destructive actions are often more about their own problems than they are about you. When bullying gets you down, talk about it with someone you trust who can build you back up.
(1) Modern communication. Learning Lark. Image retrieved from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/44282411@N04/6738333743 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license.
Texting. Jhaymesisviphotography. Image retrieved from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jhaymesisvip/6497720551 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license.