Learning how to deal with cyberbullying involves common sense and the willingness to make the bully stop. Taking a stand can be difficult if you do not know who is bullying you or why they are making you a target. Bullies who use the internet to stalk or harass their victims, do so because of its convenience. It affords them the ability to remain anonymous for as long as possible, constantly keeping their victims guessing about what will happen and where they will appear next.
How to Deal With Cyberbullying: Know What Cyberbullying Is
One thing that needs to be understood is what cyberbullying is. The National Conference of State Legislatures indicates the main difference between stalking/harassing and bullying is the age of the offender. A cyberbully normally refers to an individual who is still in school and under the legal age of 18. The terms stalking and harassment are more often reserved for activities perpetrated by adults. Learning how to deal with cyberbullying and cope with its effects can be difficult for students.
Parents, teachers and other authority figures can help students understand what cyberbullying is and offer them ways to protect themselves. This will help them avoid becoming a victim as well as give them the tools to protect themselves from unwanted advances. By knowing who to turn to, they are able to diffuse the situation before it becomes too severe.
How to Deal With Cyberbullying: Report Cyberbullies to the Proper Authorities
Cyberbullies who target other students often do not realize the laws that are in place to protect the victim. Once the bullying activity is reported, it can often be traced back to the perpetrator in a short period of time if the right tools are used. The key is reporting the incident to the proper authorities so they can, in turn, do their job.
- Local law enforcement – This includes city, county and state police. If the problem is severe enough or physical threats have been made against the life of another student or faculty member, the FBI may be called in to investigate and pursue legal action.
- Government agencies – The FCC governs the use of communications devices. They have strict regulations about the types of messages and communications sent over devices that fall under their jurisdiction. Depending on the nature and severity of the threat, the person sending the message may be guilty of a felony charge resulting in mandatory jail time.
- Social media administrators – Facebook, Twitter and other social media websites take cyberbullying very seriously. If reports are made that can be verified and proven, the person responsible can be banned from having accounts or interacting with others on the site. In instances where the communications are minor and there is no physical threat involved, this may be the only step that needs to be taken. If at any point in time, a person feels threatened (either physically or emotionally), they should consult the police immediately.
- Tell your parents – Your parents can help you secure your electronic devices and install programs on your home computer to prevent others from gaining access to your information.
- Talk to school counsellors – Whether or not you know who your bully is, talking to school officials will let them know there is a potential problem. This gives them a chance to take proactive measures and protect other students.
How to Deal With Cyberbullying: Protect Yourself
As a student, protecting yourself is of the utmost importance. If you have any questions pertaining to what you can do to make sure your information is secure, talk to your parents, your teachers and local law enforcement to ensure you are doing all you can. A few of the most common ways to protect yourself include:
- Set all of your social media accounts to “private”. This allows only people on your friends’ list to see the things you post or any of your other information.
- Change your passwords often. This prevents hackers from getting into your accounts and stealing your personal information.
- Never share personal information over the computer or any electronic device in written form. Texts and IMs can be intercepted or forwarded to others without your knowledge.