What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is an act in which a child, preteen, or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones.
Cyberbullying must involve a minor on both sides, or be instigated by a minor against another minor.
Adult cyber-harassment or cyberbullying is never called cyberbullying. Once cyberbullying involves adults, it's called cyber-harassment or cyberstalking.
Some forms of cyberbullying are punishable by law.
Children have killed one another and committed suicide after a cyberbullying incident.
Examples of Cyberbullying:
Cyberbullying may include (but is not limited to):
- One minor sending cruel or threatening emails, text messages, or instant messages to another minor.
- Creating a website to mock someone.
- Writing derogatory or inflammatory blog posts about another person.
- Making up fake accounts on a social networking site, like The Facebook or The Twitter
- Posting private or embarrassing photos of someone without asking.
- Hacking into someone's email
- Rating people in online polls.
- Flaming other players in online video games.
- Spreading secrets about people online.
Why Do Kids Cyberbully?
It's likely that kids cyberbully because they're frustrated, angry, or seeking revenge. Sometimes, they do it for kicks as they're bored. The Power Hungry cyberbullies do it to massage their ego. The reasons behind cyberbullying are as varied as those who bully.
Four Types of Cyberbullies:
1) The Power Hungry and Revenge of the Nerds - just like in the hallways at school, some cyberbullies want to show they're strong enough to make others do as they want them to. Others want to control by fear.
a) The Power Hungry Cyberbully is typically the victim of offline bullying. They may be female, or smaller than their peers, picked on for being "unpopular," and/or they may have superior technical skills. Their intention is to frighten and embarrass their victims in an anonymous forum.
b) Revenge of the Nerds cyberbullies tend to target their victims one on one, keeping their activities secret from their friends. These cyberbullies rarely understand how serious their actions are. They often resort to cyberbullying-by-proxy. Coupled with their technical skills, they can be the most dangerous cyberbullies.
2) The Vengeful Angel - these cyberbullies don't consider themselves as bullies; they feel they are righting wrongs and protecting themselves (or others) from the "bad guy" they're victimizing. They may be angry at something the victim did offline and decide to avenge past wrongs by cyberbullying. The Vengeful Angel does not understand that fighting bullying with bullying makes matters worse.
3) The Inadvertent Cyberbully - this type of cyberbully also does not believe their actions are cyberbullying. They may pretend to be tough online or react to hateful messages they've received, but they do not lash out intentionally. The Inadvertent Cyberbully responds without thinking about their consequences.
4) Mean Girls - this type of cyberbullying occurs when the cyberbully is bored and looking for entertainment. Generally, Mean Girls are female, but occasionally male. This type of cyberbullying is generally done in a group (virtually or not).
The Mean Girls want everyone to know who they are and that they have the power to cyberbully. This type of cyberbullying grows when fed by an audience or the silence of others who stand by and say nothing. Without the entertainment value sought, this type of bullying quickly dies.
How To Respond To Cyberbullies:
If you're the target of a cyberbully, don't do anything in retaliation.
Block the cyberbully from all forms of communication.
Tell a trusted adult about the cyberbullying.
Google your name as well as all online nicknames and personas, and keep a Google alert set to notify you in the event someone posts about you. If you find your personal contact information online, notify Google and ask that they remove it. If the child is under thirteen, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act requires that identifying information be removed immediately. Contact the FTC directly.
Parental Response to Cyberbullying:
Talk to your child and make sure they know not to respond by lashing back. See if they know the identity of those behind the cyberbullying and if this is related to an offline situation. If it is, deal with it quickly.
Ignore it if it's a one time, teasing sort of prank.
Restrict people who can send your child online communications. Block any offenders who are on a Buddy List.
Do not allow others to see when your child is online (make certain they are "invisible" on chat programs).
Google your child, any nicknames, address, screen name, address, websites, and telephone number to make sure the cyberbully isn't posting attacks online. Set a Google alert to notify you whenever anything about your child is posted online.
Block the sender.
Warn the sender by notifying the ISP (usually a button on IM) which creates an incident for later review.
Report the incident to the ISP, as cyberbullying and cyber-harassment usually violate the ISP's terms of service.
Report the incident to your child's school even if they cannot take action against the cyberbully.
Report to police any physical threats, anyone who is posting contact details, or instigating a cyberbullying-by-proxy campaign.
Take legal action as a last resort. It is possible for the cyberbullies' activities to come close to violating laws, but often they do not cross the line.
Document all instances that may be considered cyberbullying. This will be important if the incidences escalate.
Cyber Law Enforcement -network of law enforcement officers, who specialize in cybercrime investigation, training other law enforcement officers and who assist cybercrime victims online.
STOP Cyberbullying - examples of the difference between flaming, cyberbullying and harassment and cyberstalking (for law-enforcement).
Cyberbullying411 - an effort to provide resources for youths who have questions about, or have been targeted by, online harassment.
Facebook Help Center - how to change privacy settings on Facebook, report abuse, and prevent cyberstalking.
National Conference of State Legislatures - provides a list of laws by state, specifically referencing cyberstalking, cyber-harrassment, and cyberbullying
Cyberbullying Research Center - provides education, links to state laws, and tips for identifying, preventing, and responding to cyberbullying.