Don’t put up with cyberbullying

Don't be a victim.

ACTIVITY

Remember when you were in primary school and you used to say “Sticks and stones would break your bones but words could never hurt you”?

Well guess what? They can and do, and now that we’re all connected up with phones and iPads and Facebook and Twitter, those words come at us thick and fast and can hurt a lot.

Cyberbullying is a very real problem. It can come in many forms: humiliation, lying, exclusion, harassment and even threats of physical violence.

Did you know that one in four Australian kids is a victim of bullying? Or did you know that almost two thirds of girls aged 12 to 18 are victims of cyber bullying? Worse still, 25 per cent of all cyber-bullies target people they don’t even know.

Cyberbullying affects us in some very serious ways. Studies have shown that victims of cyberbullying are at a much higher risk of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, physical illness or even suicide than other non-victims.

With almost half of all teens reporting to have had thoughts of suicide, that’s a sobering thought.

So what can you do if you think you’ve become a victim of cyberbullying?

Talk to someone

This someone could be your parents, a teacher, family friend or another adult you trust. You might think that if you keep your mouth shut, it will all just blow over and go away. It won’t.

Keep a record of everything

It may seem like a lot of hard work, but actually taking the time to save, take screen grabs and store any threatening or offensive emails , Facebook messages, Twitter mentions, chat logs or SMSs is important in case the police or your school become involved.

Take them out of the friend zone

Whatever you do, make sure you block, unfriend, unfollow or delete the bully from all of your social media accounts and contact lists. It’s a lot harder for them to bully you if they can’t see you.

Don’t respond              

Responding to bullies is the worst thing you can do. Riling you up, getting under your skin and making you respond is like food to them. Don’t respond to abusive emails, chats, text messages or comments on social media.

Report them

Most social media or chat sites or apps have a “report abuse” function. If you’re being bullied, use this function and report the bully. As part of their terms and conditions, the owners of the site/app have to investigate.

Disconnect     

One of the best things you can do is simply unplug yourself from the digital world. Give yourself a break and stay away from your computer, iPad or phone. It may seem hard, but it can really help.

Change things up

So you’ve tried reporting or ignoring them and the bullying continues. What then? Try deleting all of your email addresses, social media accounts and if you need to, start again, this time, only giving your new details to a small list of trusted friends. If you’re still being harassed via calls or texts, get a new phone number. Report the harassment problem to your phone company and insist on getting a new number for free.

Get the authorities involved

If you’ve tried everything and the bullying persists, get your parents to report the bullying to the Police. Each state has laws that prohibit online bullying and stalking.

No matter what, there’s one thing you have to remember about cyberbullying: You don’t have to put up with it.

Read more on what cyberbullying is and how to get help in Australia here and in  New Zealand here.


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