How do I report a cyber bullying incident?
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, “Law enforcement agencies have different policies, but your local police department or FBI branch are good starting points” for reporting cyberbullying. Some areas have implemented anti-bullying laws. If you believe the cyber bullying is school related, find out whether your school subscribes to SchoolTipline or another system that allows anonymous reports of cyber bullying. Present your evidence to officials. Be as specific as possible about the cyber bullying and the victim’s reaction to it. Some victims experience only embarrassment, while others experience fear, depression, anger and worry about physical safety. People who are cyber bullied may lose sleep, become ill, withdraw from social activities or miss days of school or work. Tell officials the outcome you want. You may believe the cyber bully deserves a reprimand, the loss of online privileges, expulsion from school or arrest. The reporting authorities you consult should explain to you why that outcome will or will not happen. If officials downplay or ignore the harassment, calmly explain that you will consult a different authority. If a principal or school superintendent fails to act, a local police department may be able to offer help.
How can I take control of a situation where I, or a loved one, am being cyberbullied?
When you report a cyberbully, you take control of the situation and raise awareness about this issue. You may also help others who are being harassed by the same cyberbully. There are three simple steps you can follow to take charge of your situation.
Step 1: Don’t respond directly to the cyberbully. Bullies thrive on reactions of fear, anger, sadness or confusion. Do not reply to harassing emails, voice mails, text messages, instant messages or blog posts. Do not post comments related to upsetting photographs.
Step 2: Preserve and gather your evidence. Print out hard copies of emails, blog posts, instant messages and online images. Save copies of voice mails. Note dates and times of transmission. As much as you might want to wipe your hard drive clean, archive electronic copies of the harassing messages instead.
Step 3: Determine the scope of the problem. Notice whether the cyberbully is using only one form of technology or multiple forms of attack. Try to determine whether the attacks are a one-on-one problem or whether they involve multiple cyber bullies or victims. If your child is the victim, gently ask questions to determine whether he has told you everything about the harassment.
How should victims respond to cyber bullying?
Cyber bullying victims should never have to feel alone in their situation. If you are being targeted online, it is important to discuss any incidents that make you feel uncomfortable with a trusted adult, such as a family member, teacher, or school counselor. Block the e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers of people who are sending you unwanted messages. If the messages continue, an adult family member can help you change your phone numbers, e-mail addresses or screen names. A parent may also wish to file complaints with e-mail services, Internet Service Providers, Web sites, cell phone companies, etc. Service providers can often find the offenders, cancel their service, and report them to the police if deemed necessary. When in doubt about what to do, log off the computer, turn of the cell phone, and ask for help from a trusted adult. Never ignore bullying; bullies use provocation to elicit a response from their target and if ignored, the harassment will only get worse.
How can one prevent cyber bullying and stay cyber-safe?
There are certain preventative measures you must take to create a safer haven on the Internet for teenagers and adults alike. You should refuse to pass along any messages that may denigrate a person or a group of people, block communication with cyber bullies, and report incident of cyber bullying to a trusted adult. To stay cyber-safe, never post or share your personal information online. This includes your full name, address, telephone number, school name, parents’ names or credit card number. Furthermore, never disclose information when you are not in the position to do so. Do not share your Internet passwords with anyone, and never meet face-to-face with someone you only met online. Make sure your passwords are secure and that your information on social networking sites is private. Remember the manner in which you conduct yourself online is a reflection of who you are. Be keenly aware of the dangers of the Internet with each move you take.
If a parent suspects his or her child is a cyber bully, what should he or she do?
A parent must maintain open communication with his or her children, especially if he or she has reason to believe incidents of cyber bullying are taking place. Primarily, parents ought to educate their children on proper social etiquette on the Internet. Understand that cyber bullying frequently derives from insecurity or family problems, so by supporting free communication at home, you will also be able to avoid instances of degradation through the Internet. There is a fine line between joking and bullying. Make this boundary undeniably clear to your children.