Advice for Kids and Teens on Cyberbullying
- Posted by Connect Safely
Each case is individual, but there's some general, tried-and-tested advice that you could consider sharing with your child:
Know that it's not your fault.
What people call "bullying" is sometimes an argument between two people. But if someone is repeatedly cruel to you, that's bullying and you mustn't blame yourself. No one deserves to be treated cruelly.
Don't respond or retaliate.
Sometimes a reaction is exactly what aggressors are looking for because they think it gives them power over you, and you don't want to empower a bully. As for retaliating, getting back at a bully turns you into one – and can turn one mean act into a chain reaction. If you can, remove yourself from the situation. If you can't, sometimes humour disarms or distracts a person from bullying.
Save the evidence.
The only good news about bullying online or on phones is that it can usually be captured, saved and shown to someone who can help. You can save that evidence in case things escalate. [Visit ConnectSafely.org/cyberbullying for instructions on how to capture screenshots on phones and computers.]
Tell the person to stop.
This is completely up to you – don't do it if you don't feel totally comfortable doing it, because you need to make your position completely clear that you will not stand for this treatment any more. You may need to practice beforehand with someone you trust, like a parent or good friend.
Reach out for help – especially if the behaviour is really getting to you.
You deserve backup. See if there's someone who can listen, help you process what's going on and work through it – a friend, relative or maybe an adult who you trust.
Use available tech tools.
Most social media apps and services allow you to block the person. Whether the harassment is in an app, text, comment or tagged photo, do yourself a favour and take advantage of that. You can also report the problem to the service. That probably won't end it, but you don't need the harassment in your face, and you'll be less tempted to respond. If you're getting threats of physical harm, you should call your local police service (with a parent or guardian's help) and consider reporting it to school authorities.
Protect your accounts.
Don’t share your passwords with anyone – even your closest friends, who may not be close forever – and password-protect your phone so that no one can use it to impersonate you. You'll find advice at passwords.connectsafely.org.
If someone you know is being bullied, take action.
Just standing by can empower an aggressor and does nothing to help. The best thing you can do is try to stop the bullying by taking a stand against it. If you can't stop it, support the person being bullied. If the person is a friend, you can listen and see how to help. Consider together whether you should report the bullying. If you're not already friends, even a kind word can help reduce the pain. At the very least, help by not passing along a mean message and not giving positive attention to the person doing the bullying.