cyber; cyberbulling; bullying; bullies; bully; harassment; mobile; phones; cell; internet; web; sites; email; predators; social; network;
Cyberbullying uses technology to harass, embarrass or threaten to hurt someone.
Surveys have shown that around 50% of young teenagers have been bullied this way! The victims may feel unsafe, threatened, become depressed, withdraw from others and even seek to harm themselves.
Young people do often tease friends and kid around, but cyberbullying is not fun; it is something friends should not do to each other and there can be very serious effects, including suicide of the victim.
If you're a victim
You might feel:
- guilty like it is your fault
- unsafe and afraid
- hopeless and stuck like you can’t get out of the situation
- alone, like there is no one to help you
- depressed and feeling rejected by your friends and others
- confused and stressed out wondering what to do and why this is happening to you
- ashamed that this is happening to you.
What to do
It is important that you tell and keep on telling until something is done about it. Bullies rely on their victims not speaking up so don't give them that satisfaction.
- Tell your parents or caregivers.
- Tell a teacher or counsellor at school if you suspect it is someone there. Every school has ways that they should follow for dealing with bullying, including cyberbullying.
- As with other types of bullying it is a good idea not to show that you are upset by firing back in the same way. Don't become a cyberbully yourself.
- If you can't find someone to talk to about how you are feeling you can ring Kids Helpline - telephone 1800 55 1800 if you live in Australia
Remember, it is not your fault. There is nothing wrong with you. The behaviour of bullies is not OK. It is their responsibility.
- Tell yourself positive things about yourself every day, several times a day.
- Talk about it with friends who would be able to support you through a difficult time.
- Concentrate on positive things in your life.
- Do things that make you feel good.
- Build regular fun activities into your life.
- Do things that you know you're good at.
- Find new interests (they don't have to be expensive).
- Look at our topics about harassment that may help you.
If you know someone who is being cyberbullied then help them to get help. No-one should be made to feel threatened in this cowardly way.
The website 'Bullying no way' has lots of information on it that could be helpful http://www.bullyingnoway.com.au/
So how can you keep yourself safe?
If you want to join a social network like Facebook:
- Put everything behind password protected walls where only people you invite can see.
- Never give your password to anyone!
- Only allow people who are your real friends onto your friends list.
- Morph or blur any photos of yourself so that cyberbullies or would be predators can't use them or parts of them to embarrass you.
- Don't post anything which could be used to embarrass you or that you wouldn't like someone you really respect to see.
- Don't do anything or say anything online that you wouldn't normally do or say offline.
- Protect your friends' privacy by not posting anything about them without their permission. Insist on them protecting your privacy too.
- Check your friends' comments and pics to make sure they are protecting your privacy and not opening you up to cyberbullying. They may not be as careful as you about protecting their safety and this could put you all at risk of predators.
- Be aware that predators disguise themselves. The cool young friend you have made on line could be a very different person from what you think!
Email is a great way to keep in touch with friends but remember that sharing emails around a group can lead to problems.
- Don't give out your email address to people you don't know.
- Ask friends to delete your name if they want to pass your message to someone else in their group.
- Change your password often to protect yourself and your contact list.
- Don't forward emails without deleting the name of the person who sent it to you. You can cut and paste the info to a new page if you can't delete the address of the person who sent it to you.
- Don't forward messages without the sender's permission.
- If you want to send a message to many people you can use the "Bcc" field to ensure that the only address the receiver sees is their own.
- Most security warnings about viruses are just hoaxes. But don't pass any on to others as you may be passing on problems for them and yourself.
- If you don't know the sender of an email, then don't open it!
- You can block emails by clicking on ‘actions’ then ‘junk mail’ and choosing the ‘add sender to blocked senders list' option.
Mobile phones are becoming so amazing that you can do just about anything you need to on a phone. Unfortunately cyberbullies have found them a great way to hurt or embarrass others.
So what can you do?
- Don't give out your number to people you don't know. Ask friends never to pass on your number without checking with you first.
- Don't leave your phone around so that others could see your number.
- Maybe use caller ID blocking if you are making a call to someone you are not sure of.
- If you are bullied in this way then don't respond to their call. Bullies like to see what effect they are having and may stop if they're not getting their kicks.
- Keep any insulting or threatening sms by saving them on your phone with the time and date, then show them to a trusted adult. If messages continue then go to the Police. They can find out the identity of the bully and will take action. It is against the law to use a mobile phone to harass or threaten someone.
- If an unknown number comes up on your phone then answer without using your name in case it is a 'would- be bully' checking out they've got the right person. If it's a friend who has changed their number from the one on your contact list then you'll recognize their voice anyway.
- Use your number only on your voicemail for the same reason.
- If bullying continues turn off your phone and report it to your network provider. They will probably say change your number. This may be a good idea. It gives you the chance to check all your contacts and start again with a list of close friends and family.
Things you should think about if you are a cyberbully
Have a look at this website (http://www.bullyingnoway.com.au) and read some of the stories about cyberbullying then ask yourself some questions.
- Why am I behaving like this?
- Is this respecting others or showing respect for myself?
- What would I feel like if someone were doing this to me or my friend?
- Is this the way to sort out problems?
- What if everyone behaved like this, what would happen?
- How will I feel if everyone finds out I have been bullying people in this way?
Then stop being a bully!
If you live in Australia you can call the Kid's Helpline 1800 55 1800
The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Youth Healthline on 1300 13 17 19 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).