A recent survey of Irish secondary students has shown an alarming rise in Cyberbullying. The survey by the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals found that almost 1 in 10 students (10%) admitted to bullying other students and a further 16% said they had been the target of online or text bullying.
Cyberbullying comes in many forms and most commonly is done via text message or through social media accounts. Often a bully will attempt to intimidate or humiliate their victim by sending mean or threatening messages, setting up fake profiles or accessing someone’s account repeatedly. A less obvious but equally hurtful form of cyberbullying is when a bully will attempt to exclude someone from a group.
Seven things you should do if you are being cyberbullied:
#1 Don’t reply
The bully is often trying to provoke a reaction from you so by replying you are giving them what they want. Often the best response is no response.
#2 Keep the messages
Unlike traditional schoolyard bullying everything posted online leaves a digital footprint. Save anything that you think is evidence of you being bullied and if the problem gets worse you have a record when it comes time to reporting the bully.
#3 Block the sender
A good first step is to block the sender so they cannot send you any more messages. On Facebook click the lock symbol on the top right corner and you will see an option to “stop someone from bothering me”. All the Irish mobile network providers offer a free service where you can block messages, calls or picture messages from any user. Check out your carrier’s website to see how to do this.
#4 Protect your passwords
A common tactic by bullies is to impersonate their victims by accessing their account information. Always make sure that you protect your passwords by not sharing them and always log out of Facebook when accessing it on someone else’s computer. It’s also a good idea to password protect your mobile phone.
#5 Tell someone
If you feel you are being bullied, it’s really important to talk to someone you trust. This could be a friend, parent or teacher. Most schools now have an anti-bullying policy so they will have tried and trusted ways of dealing with incidents of cyberbullying confidentially.
#6 and if you see someone being cyberbullied, what should you do?
At the very least you should never share or pass on a mean message as this just gives the bully more attention and encouragement. It might be an idea to talk to the victim as a kind word of support can often make things easier. Together you can decide whether you should report the bullying.
#7 Don’t ever send a picture you wouldn’t send to your granny
Snapchat allows users to send “self-destructing” photos to each other which of course can be made more permanent using a quick screengrab. This combined with an increase in “sexting”, the sending of sexually explicit images by phone or online, has meant that teenagers are sending more and more picture messages to each other. Needless to say sharing any pictures of yourself or anyone else in a compromising situation is not a good idea.