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Cyberbullying is when someone bullies or harasses others online and on social media. Unfortunately, it has become more common among teens.
We hear more and more about this word. One of the problems is that bullies are cowards and social media is the perfect vehicle for them. They can easily remain anonymous online by creating fake social media accounts. They post rumors, threats, sexual remarks and personal information. They exploit, harass, out, exclude, harass and impersonate their victim; all by electronic communications.
Cyberbullying should not be taken lightly. It is a dire situation and has very harmful effects on their victim. Victims may have low self-esteem. Increased depression and anxiety along with feeling frustrated, angry and scared. In the worse cases, suicide has occurred to victims that are being cyberbullied. In juvenile cases, many times the victims are afraid or embarrassed and keep this to themselves. In most adult cases, there are usually reports being filed with the police.
Awareness of online bullies has been dramatically increased in the United States for about the past 8-10 years due to the increase in high-profile cases. Several U.S. states and other countries have developed laws specific to cyberbullying. Some laws are designed to target teen cyberbullying specifically, and others use laws extending from the full scope of physical harassment.
Cyberbullying presents a significant danger and potentially life-threatening situation for the victim. What can we do to protect ourselves and or our children from this type of crime? Even in a perfect world, crime can be stopped entirely but there are things we can do to handle this better and perhaps prevent it from continuing.
For Kids and Teens
Know that it is not your fault. If someone is repeatedly cruel to you, that is bullying, and you mustn’t blame yourself. No one deserves that type of treatment.
Do not respond or retaliate online. Most times, the bully is looking for a reaction because that gives them the power and control over you that they are looking for. Silence is golden. If possible, remove yourself from the situation.
Save the evidence. The good news about cyberbullying is that usually everything can be captured and saved.
Tell the person to stop. Only if you feel comfortable doing so. If you think that you are confident enough to take a stand with the bully, then you may be able to stop it as bullies are genuine cowards and don’t do well when someone stands up to them.
Reach out for help. You need back-up. If you have a friend, relative or adult you trust, they can help you process what’s going on and work through it.
Use available tech tools. Most social media apps allow you to block the person. You can also report the problem to the media server. If you are getting threats of physical harm, you should report to school authorities and local law enforcement.
Protect your accounts. Do not share your passwords with anyone and password protect your phone so that no one can impersonate you.
If someone you know is being bullied, take action. Try to take action to take a stand against the bully. If you can’t stop it, support the victim. At the minimum, help by not passing along a mean message and not giving positive attention to the bully.
Advice for Parents
Consider yourself lucky if your child asks for help. Most kids will not tell their parents about being bullied. If you notice that your child is losing sleep or does not want to go to school, then take notice. You need to get the full story starting with your child’s perspective.
Work with your child. This situation usually always involves loss of dignity for the victim. Have your child included in the resolution so that will encourage positive re-enforcement and regain confidence.
Listen to your child. They need to be heard by someone who cares about them. Respond thoughtfully, and this is the first step in healing.
One positive outcome. We will never stop meanness and cruelty in some human beings, and bullying is not reasonable or acceptable behavior, but when it does happen, and we overcome it together, it does build strength and resilience. We grow through challenges, and sadly some are not pleasant experiences.
Studies show that bullying is equally done by males and females. It is important not to take this lightly at any age. Due to the significant increase in harassment, there are many avenues to learn more about this cruel behavior.
If you or a loved one needs assistance in researching an online bully, then our In-Depth Search Specialist are a great option. Just give us all the information you have on the perpetrator and we will get to work.