Coping with Cyberbullying
Coping with face-to-face bullying can usually stop when the victim is home or at a place where they feel safe. On the other hand it often feels like there’s no escape from cyberbullying as the online world is always present, and even when you cut yourself off from any online activities, the bullying still continues.
The level of how upset a victim of cyberbullying feels depends greatly on the person. Some can easily shake it off or deal with it by immersing themselves in a sport, book, family or something else. Others though, take any form of abusive message, comment and such to heart and its affects can range from crying to feeling suicidal. There’s a lot that goes on in between and it’s difficult even for professionals and experts to say how to react and cope with cyberbullying.
However, there are some guidelines which we can help children and young people through when it comes to dealing with cyberbullying:
It’s not your fault – If someone is repeatedly cruel to you, you must not blame yourself. Two people can have an argument but if the other person continually abuses you in some form, then that’s bullying and is not acceptable.
Don’t respond – No matter how easy or tempting it is to respond to a cyberbully, it’s recommended that the young person doesn’t. Often, a cyberbully is goading the victim for a response, it’s a form of psychology that enables them to think they have power over the victim.
Save all evidence – It’s important that the young person saves or records all the evidence of cyberbullying. This evidence can then be used to show a parent or guardian, teacher or relative, or even someone responsible for the platform where the bullying took place. This way action can be taken to prevent any escalation.
Always ask for help – Even if the bullying incident seems minor, such as a throw-away comment, it’s always best for the young person involved to tell their parent or guardian. We, as adults, can then help the young person deal with the bullying.
Measure your response – It’s very easy as a parent or guardian to make a knee-jerk reaction to someone who’s cyberbullying our child. Therefore it’s often best to take evidence, then perhaps contact someone else, such as the NSPCC or local councillor to see what they as professionals recommend as a gauged response.
Take time to listen – A young person coming to an adult for help on bullying is a huge step for them. It’s easy to close up as a child, so to take that step should be worthy of your full attention. Listen to everything they have to say and together find a way to prevent and deal with the cyberbullies.
Help restore self-respect – The ultimate goal in any bullying is help restore self-respect to the victim. The more self-respect the young person has, then the better they are able to cope with future bullies, and life itself.
Stay positive – Bullying should be stopped but it’s unlikely as humans will never be able to eradicate all forms of cruelty toward others. With that in mind, it’s best to remain positive for the young person, whilst still being realistic. It will help them mature and learn to form protection techniques against those who want to cause suffering.
Ask the person to stop – Whilst one of the guidelines is to never respond, there is the option to take a simple approach and ask the person who’s bullying to stop. Sometimes a hurtful comment could be easily rectified by the sender, simply by it being shown that it was unnecessarily cruel. In the ideal world, they will apologise and remove the comment. It depends greatly on the comment and bullying in question.
Use the tools available – Use the available filters, blocks and reporting mechanisms available to stop the cyberbully from even being able to contact you. Facebook, Twitter and so on can block users and you’re able to report abusive behaviour. Likewise, online gaming can ban an account or kick a bully from the game server.
Report serious threats – Not only should you report threats to parents and guardians, it’s recommended that you should report serious physical, sexual and violent threats to the police. Each case will be treated with respect and the police have powers to approach the bully with the evidence to caution or charge.
Whilst the above will help children, young people, parents and guardians with cyberbullying, it’s sadly not something that’s going to disappear overnight. The moment you’re online, you’re open to some form of abusive behaviour and every social media, online game and contact made increases the chances of cyberbullying from occurring. The best we can do is help young people cope with it and learn to avoid those who would want to abuse.