A very effective way to help prevent the escalation of cyberbullying is to simply ignore the online attacks. It is well documented that one characteristic of bullies is the need to feel powerful and in control. Choosing to ignore the attacks will prevent the bully from satisfying a most basic need. Since most bullies lack self-confidence and are weak socially, ignoring the attacks and not responding in any way will help prevent further attacks from occurring. Awareness of your child’s activities on the Internet can be a boon in preventing online attacks, especially if the perpetrator knows his or her actions are being monitored. Again, if anything out of the ordinary is noticed, take immediate action to stop it in its tracks. Learn more about Cyberbullying Prevention here!
CYBERBULLYING PREVENTION: ACTIONS TO TAKE
In the event that a threatening message, email, or text is received either online or offline, never delete the messages. Instead, save them or print them, so they are available for future use to law enforcement if the need arises. It is an absolute must to report any case of cyberbullying to the authorities. Make absolutely certain that all of them are contacted and that a full report is made in order to stop the criminal. Below is a list of authorities to contact:
- School officials
- Local police
- Your ISP (Internet Service Provider)
- Your mobile phone service provider
The authorities can use the information on the receiving computer to trace the origin of the threat and to establish a pattern of abuse if one exists. Any other information such as the time of the day of the online attack or what medium was used such as a social media site, for example, can be extremely helpful. Once again, make sure to never delete any offending messages whether they were received on a computer, mobile phone, a video sharing site, or a social media site. The information contained is crucial in tracking down the origin of the attack.
CYBERBULLYING PREVENTION: ANTI-BULLYING LAWS
According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, 49 states have anti-bullying laws on the books as of April 2013 with Montana as the only holdout. Although Montana does not currently have a law specifically defining bullying or cyberbullying, they do have a criminal statute prohibiting harassment via electronic means. This statute does define several issues discussed here. However, a strict and enforceable policy that deals specifically with bullying and cyberbullying should be implemented.
Some say that anti-bullying laws enforce or attempt to enforce currently existing laws, so new laws are unnecessary. Existing laws then need to be more specific in defining the type of crime bullying actually is. This is because laws that involve the Internet are still being reviewed and updated due to the recent occurrences of crimes that are perpetrated online.
As mentioned earlier, bullying is receiving direct attention from schools and administrators in order to draft policies that deal directly with bullying and cyberbullying. Many schools are currently in the process of putting into place very strict rules against this type of behaviour. One of the issues they face is to draft policies that are enforceable and will hold up in a court of law. One such case in the county of Duval, Tennessee recently saw a judge permanently expel a young girl from all schools in that county for bullying another schoolmate. Thanks to their policies on bullying, this behaviour was stopped before the victim lost her life. It is this kind of no-nonsense adjudicating that will eventually put an end to this senseless violence and wilful destruction of life and dignity. As more and more people begin to understand the seriousness of this once obscure social issue, perhaps parents, friends, and students will band together and banish this destructive behaviour from all walks of society, especially in our own schools.