How to Handle Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is bullying. Don’t be fooled by the technology.
Cyberbullying is when anyone uses a computer, tablet and/or smartphone apps to intentionally harass and upset someone else. Cyberbullies use the same words and tactics online as in real life. Comments or content is frequently used to threaten, intimidate, degrade, insult and humiliate.
While some recipients have the self-assurance that allows them to withstand unwarranted attack, many find it hard to bear the weight of harmful words or actions.
I will not tell any of you to keep your chin up, brush it off, ignore it, or “be a man” about it. But here are suggestions for handling cyberbullying:
Ask for Help
My first advice is from one of the best neighbors anyone could have, Mister Fred Rogers: “When something goes wrong, look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Talk to your parents, the counselors at your school, a trusted friend or adult.
If you are being threatened with violence or harmful action, keep all the messages and posts and call the police immediately. You can also visit StopBullying.gov for more information.
Bullying on Steroids
Before cyberbullying came along, I was bullied in person in school and throughout a lot of my early life. My family moved a lot, making my brother and me the new kids most of the time. On top of that, I was a little too smart for my own good and didn’t bother to hide it.
I was everyone’s friend when it came to homework and quiz time, but nobody the rest of the time. I was called names, beat up, robbed, kicked, laughed at, degraded and humiliated. It lasted through all of grade school and high school.
Cyberbullying takes that humiliation and degradation and moves it to social media, websites and messaging. You might not get beat up in Facebook, but it can still feel pretty awful and be difficult to deal with.
Another terrible aspect of cyberbullying is the long-term presence of the messages, pictures and videos. Once it is posted to the Internet, it can stay out there for a long time, sometimes even decades. This makes cyberbullying bullying on steroids.
Make a Choice
We can be cruel to each other. That is a consequence of having the freedom to choose, but we can also choose love and kindness. We have to remember that we choose.
William Shakespeare, one of the most eloquent writers of all time, said, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” We should all make it our life’s mission to be kind. If you have the choice to hurt or help, you should help.
Be safe and happy.