Cyberbullying: What to Do About It

A Leave No Girl Behind Initiative: Current issues and how to deal with them

CYBERBULLYING: What to Do About It

Has someone ever made a mean comment to or about you online with the intention of hurting you, humiliating you, intimidating you or having others gang up on you in some way? If so, you have been cyberbullied. You are not alone, and being cyberbullied is NEVER your fault.

Were you ever told that you were overreacting when you talked about being cyber bullied? Were you ever told that “sticks and stones will break your bones but words will never harm you”? The fact is that words can do as much damage, and sometimes far more, than sticks and stones.

What to do if you are being cyber bullied:

  1. Tell an adult who will listen. If the adult you tell doesn’t offer any support, keep speaking out until someone listens. Cyberbullying is serious and it is your right to be protected from it. You are not weak for being cyberbullied – you are strong for taking action to stop it by telling someone.
  2. If you are part of an LNGB Power Circle, discuss this within your group with your Power Circle leader – chances are that you are not the only one who has been cyberbullied.
  3. Take a screenshot of posts on social media or blogs where you have been cyberbullied. This may be useful in identifying the cyberbully, who may not know the extent of the harm that is being done by these posts. Cyberbullies need to be educated, and teachers and parents can help if they know what was said.
  4. You don’t have to continue to read painful words. Taking a break from social media does not mean that you’re running away. It means you have enough respect for yourself to protect yourself from harm. If you were in physical danger, you would do whatever it takes to protect yourself. In this case, you need to take protective action too.
  5. Know that what is posted about you is not fact or truth. You are what you believe. When someone engages in the unhealthy and immoral behaviour of bullying, their judgement about you is not something you should choose to heed.
  6. Know that you are strong, capable, and worthy. Nothing that anyone says will take away from that unless you allow it.

What to do if you know someone who is being cyberbullied:

  1. Show support to the person who is being cyberbullied. Be a friend and stand by the person.
  2. Encourage the person to tell an adult that they trust. It may help to accompany the person and support them while they take this courageous step.
  3. Post positive messages to the person’s social media pages – it will help them feel better and maybe even be an encouragement to others to do the same.
  4. Saying nothing or ignoring the situation is still picking a side – you are either for something or against it. There is no middle ground here. Decide what you are going to stand for.

How to protect yourself from being cyberbullied:

  1. Choose your friends carefully on social media. Choose quality over quantity – there is no competition as to how many friends you have. Choose those people who treat you with respect. If possible, go through a potential friend’s page before you accept a friend request – if they have made mean comments about others, chances are that they’ll do that to you. In any event, you wouldn’t want to be friends with someone who bullies others.
  2. The delete button is your friend! If someone disrespects you or treats you badly, delete/unfollow them, and block them. This is the kindness that you need to show to yourself because YOU matter!
  3. Avoid sharing posts that are very personal. Sometimes it is worth using discretion about what you share with whom.
  4. If possible, do not make posts “public”. Share posts with those who matter in your life – your friends.
  5. Keep your password private and don’t share it with anyone. True friends will not be interested in your social media passwords.
  6. If any post makes you feel uncomfortable or hurt, talk to an adult you trust. You don’t have to go it alone. Asking for help is a sign of strength!

You have a choice. You can stand up for yourself and for others or you can back down. You can be part of the problem or you can be part of the solution. You can be one of the victimisers or you can be the person who helps stop cyberbullying. You can be the person who contributes to your peers feeling bad, or you can be the person who makes your peers feel supported and cared for. Choice is a powerful responsibility. What will yours be?