10 steps for stopping cyberbullying in your environment.

Cyberbullying can happen anywhere people are connected to one another through the internet or their phones. This means, schools, homes, shopping malls, churches, are all places where people can actively bully or be bullied by others.

 

It is everyone’s responsibility to act in order to help stop cyber bullying, because the horrifying truth is that cyber bullying kills.

 

The following ten steps are things everyone can do to stop cyberbullying.

 

1.  Know what cyberbullying is.

 

It helps to know what cyberbullying is, what it isn’t, and how to know it when you see it. Cyber bullying is the act of using phones, computers, or other devices to bully another. This could be harassment, impersonating people, sharing confidential information, spreading rumors, encouraging others to unfriend or isolate the victim, or making threats.

Like other types of bullying, it involves an imbalance of power.

The bully may be physically stronger, more popular, or have better developed social skills. The victim may be considered weak, have few friends, and struggle socially.

Kids who are disabled, LGBTQ, or minorities are often targeted.

It’s important to remember that not all online conflicts are bullying. People may argue online, even engage in name calling.

Without the imbalance of power, it’s not bullying. Many people confuse rude or mean behavior with bullying.

 

No hate.

 

2.  Don’t participate in cyber bullying.

 

Sometimes, people become participants in cyber bullying without ever considering their actions. Here are a few examples:

  • Forwarding an an embarrassing picture because you think it’s funny.
  • Telling somebody off online because you think you are backing up a friend.
  • Passing along a rumor without considering if it’s true or who it can hurt.
  • Unfriending someone due to peer pressure.

One way that bullies get people to go along with them is to convince people that the target deserves it. They may portray a cheating girlfriend for example, or some kid who ‘acts like a know it all’ at school.

 

3.  Learn how to identify when someone is being victimized.

 

If someone you know is being bullied, they may become withdrawn and depressed. You may also notice that they close down social media accounts and start new ones.

They may spend significantly more time online, or significantly less.

If you only know someone online, you can still notice signs. For example, does the same person or group of person harass them every time they post? Are you seeing rumors about them on message boards? These are some signs that the person is a target.

 

4.  Report cyberbullying when you see it.

 

Most social media sites have rules against bullying. These sites have mechanisms to flag or report posts that are abusive.

Remember that victims are often afraid of coming forward. Sometimes the act of reporting a post can help a victim who is too embarrassed to say anything themselves.

In most instances, the fact that you report the post will be anonymous.

 

5.  Discourage other forms of unkindness.

 

An important part of stopping online bullying is to work hard to create a kinder culture in general. This means speaking up when others are being unkind. Most people are willing to do that when a person’s behavior is over the the top. It gets more difficult when the behavior is more subtle. Would you be willing to voice disapproval if a friend made a snarky remark to you about another person’s appearance?

 

6.  Help the person being bullied find a solution.

 

Victims of bullying need empowerment more than anything. If you know a victim, help them to strategize and find a solution.

Give them advice on how to stop cyber bullying on Facebook or on other sites. Encourage them to change privacy settings and block toxic people.

 

7.  Encourage safe internet use.

 

If you have influence over people who are new to the internet, teach them safe internet strategies.

Encourage them to be careful about what they post online.

Let them know that it’s okay to ignore friend requests that make them uncomfortable.

Most importantly let them know that they can help to stop cyberbullying.

 

8.  Know how and when to escalate.

 

If you see behavior that is exploitive, threatening, or otherwise illegal it’s time to contact the authorities.

Just like reporting abusive posts, sometimes outside intervention is needed to guarantee everyone’s safety, including the victim.

Remember that this is not likely the first case of cyberbullying the person has engaged in.

 

9.  Support anti-bullying initiatives in your community.

Many schools, community centers, scouting organizations, and local governments are starting anti bullying initiatives.

Do what you can to encourage these efforts. This can include volunteering, providing your voice of support online, or donating money.

 

10. Provide Moral Support to Victims of Bullying

 

Some victims don’t need advice or help. They simply  need a supportive person to talk to about their situation.

Listen to victims of bullying without judgement and without telling them what they should have done.

 

Every community member has the power to stop cyberbullying in their environment. You can start by applying the ten steps here wherever possible.

 

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