Bullying Gone Digital
One of the biggest challenges facing teens and kids online is cyberbullying, which is exactly what it sounds like: the playground and hallway social troubles now in cyberspace.
Unlike school children as recent as a decade ago, children face all kinds of new bullying and taunting issues that can be hard for adults to understand.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services offers some basic tips that can help avoid or deal with cyberbullying issues.
- Don’t respond to and don’t forward cyberbullying messages.
- Keep evidence of cyberbullying. Record the dates, times and descriptions of instances when cyberbullying has occurred. Save and print screenshots, emails and text messages. Use this evidence to report cyberbullying to web and cell phone service providers. Block the person who is cyberbullying.
- Report cyberbullying to online service providers. Cyberbullying often violates the terms of service established by social media sites and Internet service providers. Review their terms and conditions or rights and responsibilities sections. These describe content that is and is not appropriate. Visit social media safety centers to learn how to block users and change settings to control who can contact you. Report cyberbullying to the social media site so they can take action against users abusing the terms of service.
When cyberbullying involves these activities it is considered a crime and should be reported to law enforcement: threats of violence, child pornography or sending sexually explicit messages or photos, taking a photo or video of someone in a place where he or she would expect privacy, stalking and hate crimes. Though it may seem “less real” because it’s online, cyberbullying is absolutely a real-world problem. It can cause major social issues for teens and lead to depression and anxiety. Serious threats can also manifest into real physical attacks.
Be aware of issues in school
Cyberbullying can create a disruptive environment at school and is often related to in-person bullying. The school can use the information to help inform prevention and response strategies.
In many states, schools are required to address cyberbullying in their anti-bullying policy. Some state laws also cover off-campus behavior that creates a hostile school environment.