Bullying is prevalent in many corners of the world, from schools to workplaces and even at home, an insidious social pandemic capable of ruining lives and eroding one’s self-esteem. Bullying in the US, however, is witnessing a turning point. Bullying in the schoolyard is no longer the main concern, as the problem has morphed into another form – cyberbullying. According to the Cyberbullying Research center, 34% of students both in middle and high school have reported cases of cyberbullying in 2016. The number is at an all-time high since the organization first began tracking the problem of cyberbullying ten years ago. As this form of bullying grows, it is important to promote more effective ways of addressing the problem. Students, parents, and educators alike need to understand the effects of cyberbullying along with ways how to deal with cyberbullying.
To fully understand the extent of cyberbullying, its definition and how it differs from traditional bullying should be discussed. Hinduja & Patchin (2015) define cyberbullying as deliberate and recurrent harm inflicted through the use of cell phones, computers, and other electronic devices. The Cyberbullying Research Center postulates that cyberbullying happens in circumstances where an individual repeatedly makes fun of another individual online, through emails, messages, as well as public post. To reiterate, it is both an intentional and repeated harm inflicted through the use of an electronic medium. It is also reported that the percentage of individuals who have been victims of cyberbullying has nearly doubled, from 18% to 34% in the years 2007 to 2016.
The Faces of Cyberbullying
As previously defined, cyberbullying occurs when an individual torments, harasses, humiliates, or threatens another through the use of technology. These malicious acts are carried out through social media, text messages, emails, and other websites. Like traditional bullying, cyberbullying manifests in several kinds of behaviours. Here are some of the most common faces of cyberbullying – it is integral to identify which is which, so in light of a circumstance of bullying, one will know how to respond to cyberbullies.
- Flaming. Flaming is the act of posting derogatory comments on someone’s social media page or inbox, be it through emails, chat rooms, and instant messages. This usually occurs during an online argument, where heated exchange is usually injected with foul language and malevolent threats.
- Harassment. This involves the relentless bombardment of malicious, abusive and threatening messages to an individual or group online. This can be done either in public or private.
- Trolling. Hailed as the grandfather of cyberbullying techniques, trolling is a concept as old as the Internet itself. It’s defined as the deliberate act of provoking in an attempt to get a response in an online forum. Provocation uses inflammatory statements, such as foul language and personal insults. The main goal is to incite the victim into anger, which experts say, makes the troll feel better about themselves.
- Denigration. Denigration occurs when someone posts rumours and gossip about another person online. This type of cyberbullying is used to ruin the target’s relationships and reputation.
- Cyberstalking. This cases is a rather serious form of cyberbullying, as it usually extends to threats of physical harm to the target. Cyberstalking includes threats, monitoring, and false accusations, along with the distressing concept of stalking. It is vital to note that this is a criminal offense which can result to restraining orders, probation, and even jail time.
- Masquerading. This transpires when a bully creates a dummy profile or identity online, motivated with the lone purpose of cyberbullying someone. This could include producing fake accounts of email, social media profile, and the selection of a new identity and photos to fool the victim. In these cases, the bully is usually someone the victim knows quite well.
- Outing. Outing happens when a bully humiliates the victim online by posting information about him. This can be private or something that feeds embarrassment. The act is damaging, as people reached by the information can potentially use the knowledge against the victim.
The Effects of Cyberbullying
Being a victim of bullying is already stressful itself, but when the Internet is added to the formula, the effects can be much more damaging. The extent of the damage can be even more painful, because the bully now holds further reach to the victim. Before the dawn of the internet, children bullied at school had the luxury of a respite in their homes. Today, however, bullying happens both in person and online, so the harassment is ceaseless. The victims, especially if they spend a lot of time online, are subjected to round-the-clock abuse. In these cases, the target feels even more powerless. The internet makes it easy to propagate information online, and often times, they can be hard to retrieve and remove. Because of this influence, bullies now often resort to cyberbullying, using technological mediums as their weapon of choice. As a result of the unyielding nature of cyberbullying, there are plenty of negative effects that victims may experience, which includes the following:
- Lowered academic performance and increased school absences
- Fluctuations in eating and sleeping habits
- Decreased self-esteem
- Loss of interest in hobbies and other activities
- Substance abuse for coping
- Withdrawal from family and friends
The effects of cyberbullying, if left unchecked, can result to extreme stress, or other serious psychological manifestations. Victims may usually feel drawn to self-harm as a way to cope with their experiences. According to a study by the Journal of Medical Internet Research, victims of cyberbullying are twice more likely to engage in self-harm and entertain suicidal ideations than those who are not.
As we look for ways on how to deal with cyberbullies, however, we should also pay attention to the bullies themselves. The victims are not the only ones vulnerable to suicide and self-harm. The study also shows that cyberbullies are also at risk of those tendencies, especially bullies in the younger age groups.
The Cyberbullying Intervention
Here are some of the most effective ways to deal with cyberbullying, retrieved from sites and organizations dedicated to the eradication of bullying, as well as the holistic recovery of its victims. Such measures are recommended by experts and victims alike, compiled as an effective guide for you:
For the victims
- Understand that it’s not your fault. Someone who is repeatedly cruel to you is a bully, and the actions done say nothing about you – it isn’t your fault, and no one deserves to be in that situation.
- Do not respond or retaliate. As you ponder on how to respond to cyberbullies, keep in mind that the best response is no response at all. Your reaction is exactly what your aggressor wants from you, as they will be inclined to think they hold power over you. The last thing you want to do is empower a bully. Do not engage in any form of retaliation, as that turns you into a bully – and the cycle persists. The best way to go about the situation is to remove yourself from it.
- Remember to save the evidence. The only good news about bullying online or on phones is that it can usually be captured, saved, and shown to someone who can help. You can save evidence in case things escalate.
- Reach out and for help. You are not alone in this fight, especially when things become too much. Look for someone you trust, someone who will listen to help you process the situation. It could be friends, a relative, a teacher, or an adult you trust. While talking to a teacher may seem difficult, doing so can greatly help.
- Use tech tools already available. Most social media pages allow you to block the bully’s profile, so as to prevent further harassment or incriminating engagement. You also have the option to report the problem to the service provider. The cycle of bullying probably will not end, as physical bullying can still happen, but you will be less tempted to respond. If you find yourself facing threats of physical harm, contact your local police with help from your parents. If the bully is someone you go to school with, report it to school authorities. If the bully is a workmate, do not think twice about reporting it to the Human Resources Department.
- Protect your accounts. One of the best ways on how to respond to cyberbullies is to protect your social media accounts. The protection of your passwords is tantamount, so do not share your passwords with anyone, not even your best friends.
- If you are aware that someone is a victim of bullying, take action. Neutrality helps the bully, it only encourages them. One of the best ways on how to deal with cyberbullies is to take a stand against them. If you have no power to stop it, shift your effort to the person being bullied and support them.
For parents and those in authority
- You are lucky if the child asks for help. Most victims of bullying, online and offline, keep the situation to themselves. Once the child opens up, speak as calmly and as openly as possible. Ask about the bully, the entire situation, and your child’s perspective. It’s important that they feel safe and comfortable as they talk about their experiences.
- Work with your child. Keeping your child involved is integral to healing. Bullying and cyberbullying makes the victim lose sense of their dignity and control over the situation, and involving them as you search for solutions helps them regain that. Bullying also often occurs in the school context, and your child knows the ins and outs better than you ever will. If there’s ever a need to talk to other people, such as school authorities, make sure your child knows.
- Respond thoughtfully. Parents often make the mistake of making things worse for their children when they react rashly. Remember that cyberbullying usually involves someone getting marginalized, which feeds the bully’s power and confidence over others. If your reaction is done publicly, the marginalization can get worse, and your child will suffer even more.
- Look at every possible side. Your child’s account of opening up is likely entirely sincere, but one person’s perspective of truth does not necessarily apply to everyone. As your figure out ways how to deal with cyberbullies, reach out to view other perspectives and maintain an open mind. Keep in mind that cyberspace is endlessly changing, composed of many layers. What your child sees online may not necessarily be the case, so it’s important to dig deeper.
- Restored self-respect is the goal. Remember that despite the circumstances, getting someone punished should not be your sole aim. It’s best to focus on the resolution through helping your child heal from the ordeal. What the victim needs the most is to regain a sense of dignity. Depending on your child, that may or may not pertain to standing up to the bully. Whatever it takes to heal, you and your child should figure it out together.
How to Report Cyberbullies
Figuring out ways on how to deal with cyberbullying has always been hard, especially during the mid-2000s. At the time, there were no laws specific to cyberbullying. Legislators, however, have sought to make amends since then, especially on the onset of tragic events and high publicity cases (suicides and mass shootings). There are laws on cyberbullying now in some states, but many of these leave the enforcement to school officials. As a result, cyberbullying is often treated as a civil matter, rather than criminal. In some cases, prosecutors seek the help of existing laws to aid in the prosecution of individuals suspected of cyberbullying. Criminal harassment statutes are often the basis for charging severe cases, as with serious criminal charges of offenses resulting in suicide and other tragic costs.
Some states have recently created cyber harassment statues, which provide an avenue for charging online bullies. Reportedly, nearly half of U.S. states include cyberbullying as part of bullying laws. As the trend of bullying increases, so does the trend for accountability. There is now a nationwide recognition of the severity of the effects of bullying, both in school and online. Some victims in most states are now given the power to seek the civil court in some situations.
How to deal with cyberbullying, though? When it happens, conduct a documentation of the situation, as this will serve as proof when you plea your case. Reporting the occurrence follows, and there are many ways to do this.
Report Cyberbullying to Online Service Providers
Most online sites, especially social media, do not tolerate cyberbullying. It violates the terms of service established by the service providers. When you wish to report someone, review their terms and conditions. As you report the incident, make sure to describe the content in detail and provide proof if necessary. They have a team of service providers that will help you take action against users abusing the terms of service. If you’re in desperate need of a respite, most sites empower you to protect yourself by blocking and operating your contact settings. Go on private and block any activity coming from the aggressor.
Report Cyberbullying to Schools
Like face-to-face bullying, cyberbullying promotes a disruptive environment at school. The school can use the information you’ve acquired to help apprise prevention and create response strategies. Depending on your state, schools are required to address cyberbullying through anti-bullying policies. Some state laws also encompass off-campus behaviour, which can further protect victims. Schools have begun launching strong campaigns against bullying in all forms, and usually try to encourage students to engage through various activities, like essay writing.
Report Cyberbullying to Law Enforcement
Cyberbullying can be considered a crime if it covers the following:
- Threats of violence
- Child pornography
- Filming someone in a situation calling for privacy
- Sending sexually explicit messages or photos
- Stalking and hate crimes
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Cyberbullying, or bullying in general, is an issue that should be the subject of discussion. In a world of violence and hostility, such acts only contribute to the vicious cycle of violence, as emphasized by tragic cases of suicide and school shootings. It is important, too, that you get involved as a student. Your school may celebrate an Anti-Bullying Awareness at some point during the year, or perhaps it’s something you may simply be passionate about. In any case, and in any given opportunity, choose to speak for the victims and help them empower themselves. It could be through art, social media, or volunteering. We at CustomEssayMeister renounce bullying in every form, and we believe that the power of words, if used right, can change the world. Our writers are passionate about other issues as well, so if you’re in need of any assistance, feel free to contact us. More than just a ghost writing service company, we provide custom essays, custom term papers, and other writing projects, guaranteed original and of the highest quality. Interested? Voice out to our Support Team your concerns. Purchase your custom paper now!