Cyber bullying and cyber harassment have gotten a lot of attention lately. In the United States, First Lady Melania Trump has made this her special cause to tackle as First Lady, and she recently visited a Michigan middle school to kick off her #nooneeatsalone campaign aimed at promoting inclusiveness in the lunch room. Preventing bullying is crucial to preventing all the problems that go along with it later in life, both for the bully and for the bullied. So what can you do if you or your child is being bullied or harassed online?
There is a common refrain among people who don’t think things through to just get offline. In their estimation getting offline would prevent you from seeing the bad things, so then there’s no problem. Unfortunately this is short sighted for a number of reasons. First, online bullying and harassment can go on without your presence and last forever, and then you have no idea what’s out there about you or how to address it.
Second, most of the communication going on between humans these days is taking place online, so removing yourself to isolation because of bullying is more likely to compound the problem than it is to solve it. Third, you can’t be in school in this day and age without having at least some of your assignments online, including virtual groups on social media.
The best way to fight back against cyber bullying and online harassment is to actually fight back. Take screenshots and report any abusive posts to admin on the social media site you are using, and block the bully whenever possible. Turn those screen shots into your school, your employer, their employer, or even law enforcement wherever applicable. Most importantly, do not engage your harasser. Remain calm and fight back within the legal framework available to you. Seek help and do not try to fight it alone.
Cyber bullying and online harassment can have real world consequences, from missing school or work to depression and even suicide. Women are targeted more often than men, and people who identify as LBGTQIA are more likely to be targeted than straight and cisgendered people. There are some differences in who does the bullying that are based on age – young people are more likely to be bullied by people they know, while adults are more likely to be harassed by people they don’t know.
Learn more about preventing cyberbullying and online harassment from this infographic. It’s a bigger problem than most people realize until it’s too late.