For most youth, the Internet is all about socializing, and while most of these social interactions are positive, increasing numbers of kids are using the technology to intimidate and harass others – a phenomenon known as cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying can be hurtful and makes a big impact on the way someone feels and acts. Here are some signs to watch out for.
SIGNS TO LOOK OUT FOR IF YOU SUSPECT SOMEONE IS BEING CYBER-BULLIED
- Appearing nervous when engaging in online activities or having to attend school related activities
- Seeming depressed, angry, irritable or frustrated after being online or returning home from school
- Displays unusually secretive behaviour particularly related to online activities
- Stops using their devices unexpectedly
- Oversleeping or not getting enough sleep
- Changes in eating patterns (often related to depression)
- Unexplained headaches or abdominal aches (often caused from anxiety)
- Disengagement from activities or hobbies that used to interest them
- Is unusually withdrawn from friends and family
- Often fake being ill to avoid going to school or to leave school early
- They might talk about wanting to run away or not wanting to be ‘here’ anymore
- They could be having thoughts of hurting themselves and/or suicide
Putting a stop to cyberbullying is everyone’s responsibility. If you know someone who is being cyberbullied there are things you can do to help.
Each of us can help keep the internet a safe place so nobody gets hurt, abused, or attacked online. Here’s what you can do:
- Don’t forward or share the post, text or image on social media.
- Don’t take part in it by sending mean messages back.
- If it’s safe, take a stand against it and ask the bully to stop.
- Talk to the person being cyberbullied and let them know you care.
- Report it online or show an adult who can help you report it.
- Say something kind or positive to the person being cyberbullied.
- Let the bully know that what they’re doing is not “OK”.
- Ask the person being bullied if they are “OK” and if they need help.
- Let them know that you care about them and you don’t agree with what’s happening.
- Remind them they’re brave and it’s “OK” to talk about it.
- Help them collect and save the evidence, e.g. screenshots, photos, texts, emails.
- Suggest that they block and report the cyberbully.
- Help them check their privacy settings so their information is protected.
- Together, talk to an adult – family member, teacher, coach – about the cyberbullying so they are also aware of what’s happening.
- Remind your friend that it’s “OK” to get professional help from people like a school counsellor or psychologist.
- Even if your friend makes you promise not to tell anyone, it’s important that an adult knows what’s going on – especially if they’re in danger of getting hurt.
- If you feel that your friend is unsafe and may hurt themselves tell a school counsellor, or a trusted adult.
- Remember that it is not your responsibility to ‘fix’ the problem, but you can be there to support your friend.
IF YOU ARE A VICTIM OF CYBER BULLYING HERE ARE SOME TIPS
- DON’T RETALIATE
- SAVE THE EVIDENCE
- TELL SOMEONE WHAT’S HAPPENING
- REPORT, BLOCK, GET RID OF THEM!
- REMEMBER THE PROBLEM IS WITH THEM AND NOT YOU
Cyberbullying can include:
- Sending, sharing or posting nasty, hurtful or abusive messages or emails
- Humiliating others by posting/sharing embarrassing videos or images
- Tagging someone inappropriately in an image
- Spreading rumors or lies online
- Trolling – saying means things to stir people up
- Imitating others online
- Making threats towards another person
- Excluding others online
- Online peer pressure
- Repeated harassment and threatening messages (cyberstalking)
The Guardian: South Africa’s Safeguarding Specialist.