Cyberbullying is any for of harassment that occurs via the internet or other technological tool. Vicious posts, name calling in chat rooms, blogs, facebook, Myspace, posting fake profiles on web sites, and mean or cruel email messages and text messages are all forms of cyberbullying.
Some Examples of how cyberbullying works:
Student (A) is bombarded by anonymous threatening and taunting emails at home, even though there is no direct harassment at school. The victim has no idea who is sending the messages and starts to feel like everybody is against him or her. That student is now being cyberbullied.
Student (B) a school bulletin board is spammed with name-calling posts that spread vicious rumors about this specific student. The rumors are not true, but students at school see the posts and asume them credible. The student is then ostracized by his or her. This student is now a victim of cyberbullying.
A nasty fake profile is posted at a social networking site such as facebook or myspace, using a student’s real name, photo, and contact information. That student starts getting strange email messages from strangers who think the profile is real. Some of the messages are crude and defaming. Some of the messages are mean and vulgar. This is yet another example of cyberbullying. As I have illustrated just a few examples of cuberbullying, if you are taking part in things like this it is NOT harmless fun. You are being a cyberbully. If you are the victim of this type of treatment you are being cyberbullied and there are things you can do to stop this form of harassment.
Why Does Cyberbulling Occur?
Bullying has been around for over a hundred years, but cyberbullying is very different, because it lets a bully remain anonymous, just like when people blog and do not post their real names. It is easier to bully in cyberspace than it is to bully face to face. With cyberbullying a bully can pick on people with much less risk of being caught, or little do they think.
Bullies are natural instigators and in cyberspace bullies can enlist the participation of other students who may be unwilling to bully in the real world. Students who stand around doing nothing in a real life bullying incident often become active participants in on-line harassment.
The detachment afforded by cyberspace makes bullies out of people who would never become involved in a real life incident. The internet makes bullying more convenient and since the victim’s reaction remains unseen people who wouldn’t normally bully do not take it as seriously.
What Can You Do if You Experience Cyberbullying?
There are many things that can be done to combat cyberbullying. The most important thing a victim of cyberbullying can do is to NOT respond to the bully. Do not play in to the bully's games. Do not answer emails, do not respond to posts, do not engage in a chat room exchange, and do not copy what the bully is doing. Ignore the bullying and get help from parents and teachers. Also, please document any and all emails, post, blogs, or text messages you receive. This will be very important later when school officials and law enforcement officials do an investigation. Internet providers and even the police can properly deal with the bully. Cyberbullying may give bullies anonymity but it always leaves a long trial of evidence to work with.
Can Cyberbullying Be Prevented?
Schools and communities nation-wide take all types of bullying seriously. As soon as the cyberbullying starts go to school officials for help. Cyberbullying is often an extension or escalation of bullying that is already happening at school. Parents should also be told what is happening.
Law enforcement officials are unlikely to become involved if the bullying is limited to an isolated incident or a couple of mean emails or text messages. However, if you get even one communication that includes a threat of physical harm or a threat of death, contact your local police department right a way. Be aware that urging suicide is considered a death threat and the police will treat it accordingly under local and state statue.
When Should You Involve Your Local Police Department?
When cyberbullying is repeated and takes on excessive harassment via email, text messages, forums or chat rooms are all forms of harassment and should involve your local police department. Threats of violence should also be reported to the police. Very important, please save all messages as evidence of record. The police will know what to do from there.
You do not need or deserve to put up with cyberbullying. Help is out there and your self-esteem and life are far too valuable to be placed in harms way by a coward using technology in a bad way. Cyberbullying leaves a clear trail of evidence and this can work to the advantage of the victim. Cyberbullies are just bullies with a new weapon in their arsenal of bad behavior; treat them like you would any bully and they will not only lose their power, but also face criminal charges depending on the form the cyberbullying was rendered to the victim.