The Sounds of Advice #45: Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying: the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.

Today, the focus of the column will be to talk about coping mechanisms and what to do if you're being cyberbullied. 

If you or someone you know is being cyber bullied make sure you talk to someone you trust about it. 

Block the person, or people, doing the cyber bullying. It is better not to respond to the bullying online. Sometimes that's what the bully wants is for you to feed into it because they want a reaction.

Honestly save what they say to you and talk to an adult about it or someone you trust. Then you should block anyone who cyber bullies you. Bully look for you to react to things. If you don't react they grow bored and move on to someone else. It's better to walk away from things then to show them it bugs you.

If you're being cyberbullied, here are some steps you can take. 

1. Don’t respond to and don’t forward cyberbullying messages.

2. Keep evidence of cyberbullying. Record the dates, times, and descriptions of instances when cyberbullying has occurred. Save and print screenshots, emails, and text messages. Use this evidence to report cyberbullying to web and cell phone service providers.
3. Block the person who is cyberbullying.
4. When cyberbullying involves these activities it is considered a crime and should be reported to law enforcement.

Things to remember: 

1. Don't blame yourself. It is not your fault. No matter what a cyberbully says or does, you should not be ashamed of who you are or what you feel. The cyberbully is the person with the problem, not you.

2. Try to view cyberbullying from a different perspective. The cyberbully is an unhappy, frustrated person who wants to have control over your feelings so that you feel as badly as they do. Don't give them the satisfaction.

3. Don't beat yourself up. Don't make a cyberbullying incident worse by dwelling on it or reading the message over and over. Instead, delete any cyberbullying messages and focus on positive experiences. There are many wonderful things about you so be proud of who you are.

4. Get help. Talk to a parent, teacher, counselor, or other trusted adult. Seeing a counselor does not mean there is something wrong with you.

5. Learn to deal with stress. Finding ways to relieve stress can make you more resilient so you won't feel overwhelmed by cyberbullying. Exercise, meditation, positive self-talk, muscle relaxation, and breathing exercises are all good ways to manage the stress from cyberbullying.

6. Spend time doing things you enjoy. The more time you spend with activities that bring you pleasure—sports, hobbies, hanging out with friends who don't participate in cyberbullying, for example—the less significance cyberbullying will have on your life.

Michaelle: If you are being cyberbullied, immediately take action by reporting the user through appropriate channels. Look in the social media FAQs if you need assistance. If it is email, report directly to the user's ISP. Cyberbullying is not tolerated by most online. 

Next, for coping with cyberbullying, quickly deal with the situation to leave less time for them to mistreat you and allow them to get "inside your head." Once you realize the cyberbullying, stop and know that the bully has issues and they really are about them and NOT you.

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