Bullying in schools or at work has existed for a long time. We may have experienced or witnessed bullying and cyberbullying sometime in our lives. But when it comes to Cyberbullying, it may be something that we have not experienced and don’t know how to address cyberbullying.
We generally identify bullying and cyberbullying as malicious behavior towards someone to harm. It may involve abusive behavior, which may take physical over mental abuse to a target of cyberbullying. Kids at school may bully each other and sometimes kids go missing.
With the rise of the internet and the popularity of social media, many bullying in real life is taking place online. Even though social media sites have taken measures to stop cyberbullying and ensure the online safety of their users, it still exists in most popular social media sites like Instagram and Facebook and chatting application such as WhatsApp.
According to a study by Cyberbullying Research Centre, almost 34% of social media users have witnessed cyberbullying online behaviors, and the study also suggests that 10% of these users were teenagers.
These statistics show how rampant cyberbullying is in today’s world. Cyberbullying even takes place in online games like Apex Legends. Naturally, that we as friends, family, parents or guardians and teachers are worried about others. Even though we might have a relative or a student who is a victim of cyberbullying, we might not know how to handle the situation.
Ways To Address Cyberbullying
While there might not be set ways to address cyberbullying, it is crucial to take the right steps when handling the situation. Cyberbullying can be an extremely traumatic situation for the victim. Victims of cyberbullying often face humiliation and mental health issues when they are suffering.
Hence it is extremely important for you to take the right steps at the right time when addressing cyberbullying. How you address the situation and what steps you take to protect the victim of a cyberbully can affect their life and well-being.
So it would help if you are sensitive and mindful when you come across someone who is being bullied online. Victims of cyberbullying do not usually confide in others, so you need to be conscious when they talk about their experiences.
Invalidating the experiences without knowing the whole situation can be hurtful to the target of cyberbullying. Therefore, parents and teachers especially need to look out for their kids or middle and high school students and talk about experiences that they might be facing online.
It might seem like a daunting prospect to help someone facing bullying behaviors online. But there are several steps that you can take to address cyberbullying.
So we have prepared this guide for you involving the key steps to address cyberbullying. This step-by-step guide will help you take the right actions to have the target of cyberbullying.
Recognize The Signs
The first step that you need to take while addressing cyberbullying is recognizing the signs. You cannot address cyberbullying without knowing what it entails and how it affects the victim.
Therefore, you need to know what cyberbullying is and how it affects the victims before addressing any issues related to cyberbullying. So what is cyberbullying, and what are its types?
Cyberbullying is a form of online bullying that occurs through digital devices. It can take place online as well as through the use of technology. Cyberbullying occurs when someone harasses, bullies, threatens, torments, or humiliates someone else. It can take place through social media sites, websites, text messages, or even emails.
Different kinds of cyberbullying takes place online, according to the Cyberbullying Research Centre. The different kinds of cyberbullying that usually happens on social media sites or through the use of technology are as follows:
- Impersonation: Impersonation refers to making fake accounts for profiles to impossible the victim. It can also refer to hacking or gaining unauthorized access to the victim’s social media account.
- Cyberstalking: Cyberstalking refers to using technology repeatedly to stalk and then intermediate the victim. The bully also stalks someone to gain regular private information about the target of cyberbullying.
- Flaming: Flaming refers to using inappropriate language for derogatory terms on someone’s comments or messages.
- Outing: Outing is a type of cyberbullying in which the bully shares personal private information after the victim online to humiliate them. Outing can involve the bully posting or sharing private photos, videos, messages, etc. of the victim on the internet.
- Harassment: Online harassment involves the bully sending abusive, threatening and malicious rumours or hateful messages on the comments of the victim’s posts.
- Trolling: Trolling refers to making fun of someone in a deliberate attempt to entice them. It is usually done by posting inappropriate or embarrassing facts about the victim to make them angry.
- Trickery: Trickery refers to befriending someone to trust and out their private information on public platforms such as social media sites.
- Catfishing: Catfishing refers to losing or manipulating content to build a relationship with the target of cyberbullying online.
- Exclusion: Exclusion in cyberbullying refers to creating groups or events without inviting the victim and excluding them on purpose.
Along with identifying the type of cyberbullying, you also need to look out for the signs that their mind physically and mentally expresses. Some of these also may have the negative effect of cyberbullying.
Some of the warning signs of cyberbullying on the victims, as suggested by a study by Cyberbullying Research Centre, are as follows:
- Social anxiety
- Lower self-esteem
- Loss of interests and hobbies
- Social withdrawal
- Eating disorders
- Low academic or work performance
- Using drugs or alcohol
- Sudden changes in weight
- Self-harm or thoughts of self-harm
- Joking about suicide or death in general
- Committing suicide or suicidal thoughts
Do Not Pass Judgement
People should refrain from making a judgement when it comes to talking to the victim of cyberbullying. Most victims have a very hard time expressing the harassment that they are going through to other people. Most victims do not share their stories and experiences with other people because they are scared that other people will judge them.
Hence it is extremely important not to dramatize or diminish the experience of the victim when they open up about being bullied online. This case is especially important for parents and teachers.
It is also so wrong to blame the victim in cases of cyberbullying. You need to empathize with them and make them feel comfortable whether they are your partner, friend or child. You also need to listen to their experience without passing judgement as it is crucial to their emotional and mental health.
Being cyberbullied can be a very dramatic experience, especially for children. Hence passing judgement or invalidating their experience can lead to long-term mental health issues.
It is important not to pass judgement when people are sharing their experiences of being cyberbullied. You have to understand that speaking out about these issues takes a lot of courage and bravery on behalf of the victim.
Take The Right Action.
Along with not passing any judgement when the victim of cyberbullying shares their experiences, you also have to have them take the right action. We have listed some action that you can suggest to help the victim with.
You can take the appropriate action according to the degree of cyberbullying and its form. Here are five actions that you can when to help the victim of cyberbullying:
Talk To The Victim
The first time that you need to take when you find out someone is being cyberbullied is to talk to them. It would help if you asked questions sensitively by taking their feelings and emotions into mind.
You can ask them when and how the bullying started. It would help if you asked questions about who is involved in bullying them and what has happened so far. The best is ensuring that you would be there to listen to them and maintain secrecy.
Parents need to understand their pain and emphasize with them. You need to treat them with respect and make them feel comfortable, as they might have lower self-confidence when they are bullied at school or anywhere else. You also need to suggest against taking any rash decision that might harm or cause damage to the life and reputation of the bully.
It is also very important to collect or record all instances of cyberbullying. Most social media sites allow users to delete their comments or messages. So you need to collect the messages for a post by taking screenshots or photos.
Even though the victim might not be willing to take any action currently, these pieces of evidence can be used against cyberbullies in the future. Keeping a record of the bully and having the evidence documents will help them successfully report and convict their bully.
Some social media sites where the posts and messages disappear after a few seconds or after 24 hours. Then it is especially important to take a screenshot of those posts and save them.
Documents and evidence are extremely important in the court of law and allow victims to file and win cases against their cyberbully.
Report The Bully
You can also report or block the bully when you are experiencing cyberbullying. It can be done when the bully is a stranger, and online bullying is not as intense.
If your child reports to you that they are constantly bullied online, you can report the user of the social media site. When you report the bully, you alert the social media security about their activities.
These social media employees will then check their activities and either suspend the bully’s account or ban them permanently to stop cyberbullying. It will help the victim and other people on the platform remain safe from the bully.
Another path that you can choose when you are experiencing cyberbullying is to block the bully. When you block another user, you will not view their profile, and they will not be able to see yours. Furthermore, the bully will not send messages to you, which will help stop cyberbullying.
Contact The Authorities (Depending On The Situation)
While collecting evidence for cyberbullying, people have to be careful. In cases related to sensitive topics, like photos or videos containing or considered of having child pornography, it is illegal for you to have the evidence. Even having the evidence might lead you to legal trouble.
So for documenting cyberbullying evidence, you should consider contacting the authorities or someone older.
As stated earlier, it is important to document the experiences of cyberbullying. It is crucial while taking legal action against the person committing it.
Parents and teachers should teach early on that victim of cyberbullying can contact the police. This can be done in case threats of violence have been made to stop cyberbullying.
Get Additional Resources
In some cases of cyberbullying, the victims require the intervention of greater community resources. These resources can be given by people designated for cyberbullying cases, like counsellors, police officers, administrators, and law enforcement agents.
Cyberbullying is a serious issue, therefore, victims or guardians should consider involving the community. Their involvement may prevent larger problems.
It is also crucial to offer counselling services to both victims of cyberbullying and perpetrators. Let middle and high school kids know that it is fine to ask for help and talk to someone.
There are also hotlines and other services provided by the local and national government where you can report and talk about these issues. They are extremely helpful in such cases.
Support The Victim
Instead of charging online to criticize cyberbullying, offer strong support to your child first and make them feel comfortable, make them realize that cyberbullying is not their fault and it can happen to anyone.
It would help if you also reassured your child by letting them know that you will help them work out a solution. Most communication tools and social media sites allow users to block specific people/accounts from contacting or viewing/commenting on their profile.
Parents can help prepare their kids, and teachers should teach students about bullying and cyberbullying. It is also important to support them if such a situation occurs. With the support and trust, encounters of cyberbullying can also turn into a positive learning experience.