LifeSkills4Kids.com Knowledge Base

Skip to content


How to Spot and Stop Cyber Bullying

What is Cyber Bullying

Bullying is aggressive behavior that is intentional and involves an imbalance of power or strength. Usually, it is repeated over time. Traditionally, bullying has involved actions such as: hitting or punching (physical bullying), teasing or name-calling (verbal bullying), or intimidation through gestures or social exclusion. In recent years, technology has given children and youth a new means of bullying each other.

Cyber bullying, which is sometimes referred to as online social cruelty or electronic bullying, can involve:

  • Sending mean, vulgar, or threatening messages or images;
  • Posting sensitive, private information about another person;
  • Pretending to be someone else in order to make that person look bad;
  • Intentionally excluding someone from an online group (Willard, 2005).

Children and youth can cyberbully each other through:

  • E-mails,
  • Instant messaging,
  • Text or digital imaging messages sent on cell phones,
  • Web pages,
  • Web logs (blogs),
  • Chat rooms or discussion groups, and
  • Other information communication technologies.

Suggestions for parents

Adults seldom are present in the online environments frequented by children and youth. Therefore, it is extremely important that adults pay close attention to the cyber bullying and the activities of children and youth when using these new technologies.

Tips to help prevent cyber bullying:

  • Keep your home computer(s) in easily viewable places , such as a family room or kitchen.
  • Talk regularly with your child about on-line activities he or she is involved in.
    • Talk specifically about cyber bullying and encourage your child to tell you immediately if he or she is the victim of cyber bullying, cyberstalking, or other illegal or troublesome on-line behavior.
    • Encourage your child to tell you if he or she is aware of others who may be the victims of such behavior.
    • Explain that cyber bullying is harmful and unacceptable behavior.  Outline your expectations for responsible online behavior and make it clear that there will be consequences for inappropriate behavior.
  • Although adults must respect the privacy of children and youth, concerns for your child’s safety may sometimes override these privacy concerns.  Tell your child that you may review his or her on-line communications if you think there is reason for concern.
  • Consider installing parental control filtering software and/or tracking programs, but don’t rely solely on these tools.

Tips for dealing with cyber bullying that your child has experienced:

Because cyber bullying can range from rude comments to lies, impersonations, and threats, your responses may depend on the nature and severity of the cyber bullying.  Here are some actions that you may want to take after-the-fact.

  • Strongly encourage your child not to respond to the cyber bullying.
  • Do not erase the messages or pictures. Save these as evidence.
  • Try to identify the individual doing the cyber bullying. Even if the cyberbully is anonymous (e.g., is using a fake name or someone else’s identity) there may be a way to track them through your Internet Service Provider. If the cyber bullying is criminal (or if you suspect that it may be), contact the police and ask them to do the tracking.
  • Sending inappropriate language may violate the “Terms and Conditions” of e-mail services, Internet Service Providers, web sites, and cell phone companies. Consider contacting these providers and filing a complaint.
  • If the cyber bullying is coming through e-mail or a cell phone, it may be possible to block future contact from the cyberbully. Of course, the cyberbully may assume a different identity and continue the bullying.
  • Contact your school. If the cyber bullying is occurring through your school district’s Internet system, school administrators have an obligation to intervene. Even if the cyber bullying is occurring off campus, make your school administrators aware of the problem. They may be able to help you resolve the cyber bullying or be watchful for face-to-face bullying.
  • Consider contacting the cyberbully’s parents. These parents may be very concerned to learn that their child has been cyber bullying others, and they may effectively put a stop to the bullying.  On the other hand, these parents may react very badly to your contacting them. So, proceed cautiously. If you decide to contact a cyberbully’s parents, communicate with them in writing — not face-to-face. Present proof of the cyber bullying (e.g., copies of an e-mail message) and ask them to make sure the cyber bullying stops.
  • Consider contacting an attorney in cases of serious cyber bullying. In some circumstances, civil law permits victims to sue a bully or his or her parents in order to recover damages.
  • Contact the police if cyber bullying involves acts such as:
    • Threats of violence
    • Extortion
    • Obscene or harassing phone calls or text messages
    • Harassment, stalking, or hate crimes
    • Child pornography

If you are uncertain if cyber bullying violates your jurisdiction’s criminal laws, contact your local police, who will advise you.

Suggestions for educators

  • Educate your students, teachers, and other staff members about cyber bullying, its dangers, and what to do if someone is cyberbullied.
  • Be sure that your school’s anti-bullying rules and policies address cyber bullying.
  • Closely monitor students’ use of computers at school.
  • Use filtering and tracking software on all computers, but don’t rely solely on this software to screen out cyber bullying and other problematic on-line behavior.
  • Investigate reports of cyber bullying immediately. If cyber bullying occurs through the school district’s Internet system, you are obligated to take action. If the cyber bullying occurs off-campus, consider what actions you might take to help address the bullying:
    • Notify parents of victims and parents of cyberbullies of known or suspected cyber bullying.
    • Notify the police if the known or suspected cyber bullying involves a threat.
    • Closely monitor the behavior of the affected students at school for possible bullying.
    • Talk with all students about the harms caused by cyber bullying. Remember — cyber bullying that occurs off-campus can travel like wildfire among your students and can affect how they behave and relate to each other at school.
    • Investigate to see if the victim(s) of cyber bullying could use some support from a school counselor or school-based mental health professional.
  • Contact the police immediately if known or suspected cyber bullying involves acts such as:
    • Threats of violence
    • Extortion
    • Obscene or harassing phone calls or text messages
    • Harassment, stalking, or hate crimes
    • Child pornography

Source: Stop Bullying Now – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Recommended Books

cyberbullying How to Spot and Stop Cyber Bullying
Cyber Bullying in the Digital Age

Cyber Bullying: Bullying in the Digital Age (Paperback)

by Robin M. Kowalski PhD (Author), Susan P. Limber PhD (Author), Patricia W. Agatston PhD (Author)

Cyber bullying has become more prevalent through the use of e-mail, instant messages, chat rooms, and other digital messaging systems. It brings with it unique challenges. Cyber Bullying provides the most current and essential information on the nature and prevalence of this epidemic, providing educators, parents, psychologists and policy-makers with critical prevention techniques and strategies for effectively addressing electronic bullying.

  • Provides an empirically-based resource with up-to-date information about the nature and prevalence of cyber bullying through the use of email, instant messages, chat rooms, and other digital messaging systems
  • Examines the role of anonymity in electronic bullying
  • Includes feedback from focus groups and individual interviews with students and parents
  • Offers a handy reference with practical strategies for educators, parents, psychologists and policy makers about prevention and intervention of cyber bullying

Posted in Anti-Bully Skills. Tagged with , , , , .

6 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. kate jackson said

    agree no one should be bullied

  2. shannonn liddle said

    i get bullied for being fat and i dont like it i told s teachure and they backed off a bit but it still hurts my feelings

  3. Aiden said

    i use to get physically bullyed at primary school. i always told on him and he got introuble but that didn’t stop him from bullying me. he also lied every single day to blame me for things or because i got him in trouble. i dont get bullyed at high school though.

  4. I got bullied by many cyberbulliers, maybe on the Facebook, taking pictures and putting it on the Facebook, I like to blame everything on the Facebook, I went to a school that did alot of many bullying, hate crimes, bad invesigation, many times commit sucide, rude comments, spreading remours, bad mouthing, got in trouble, call the police for a order, and assult, etc. Not really sure but got isolated, not sure about the income now

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Bullying is for Losers « FierceChat linked to this post on September 28, 2011

    […] Bullying is another insidious type of bullying that is now pervasive on the internet. This is another great site that provides very useful information to help prevent and deal with harassment over the […]

Some HTML is OK

(required)

(required, but never shared)

or, reply to this post via trackback.