Cyber bullying is a crime that is serious enough to cause unwanted stress and heartache on an individuals daily activities. A Cyber bully is someone who uses electronic communications to harass, belittle, or stalk a person because of jealously, race, sexuality, etc. Cyber bullies use various types of communications including e-mail, website postings, blogging, text/ instant messaging, etc. However, there are steps a victim can take to resolve the cyber bulling issue.
What is a Cyber Bully?
A cyber bully is a person who uses the Internet, cell phone, or other electronic communication device to intimidate, embarrass, harass or stalk another person. They can also bully in person by intimidating their victims to accomplish their demands or suffer the consequences (posting a false statement, picture, video, text message online). They usually know their victim and occasionally choose random people based on religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, or people who are regarded as “not cool.” Additionally, a cyber bully could choose a victim by responding to a message the victim has posted. People who become cyber bullies may be the victims of bullying themselves; they either retaliate against their attacker or target another person. Although adults can become victims of cyber bullying, children are the number one victims and most regard it as a game that is fun to participate in.
Cyber Bullies Communication Methods
Cyber bullies communicate by using e-mail (Yahoo, AOL, etc.), text/instant messaging (cell phones, IM), blogging (My Space), or by posting pictures, videos, or publishing websites/pages. The intended message of the communication can include graphic and confrontational messages, cruel and degrading remarks, or threats and false promises.
Some examples are:
- posting secrets or embarrassing information, including pictures, for everyone to see
- posting gossip or rumors to damage a person’s reputation
- distributing messages pretending to be the victim to damage that person’s friendships
- alienation of the victim from online groups
People always think “words can never hurt”, but in cyberspace cyber bullies can strike 24/7 (anytime, anywhere). Cyber bullies continue to harass their victims as they try to get some information out of it (answers to a test, etc.) and think it is fun; but most fail to see the physical impact of the damages. Children are impressionable and tend to believe everything they hear; the remarks from the cyber bully’s message have a negative impact on their intellectual mind. This might affect their well being and mental state when they get older. Cyber bullying is 10 times worse than actually being beaten up because on the Internet (and the victim’s mind), words, pictures, and videos can stay forever.
The Internet gives the impression of anonymity. Often, there are few consequences, because law officials have a difficult time locating the person(s) responsible for cyber bullying, because of technological advances. A cyber bully may falsify their identity or disguise their computer as something else to escape the penalties. New laws have been enacted or are being proposed in many states to curb cyber bulling behavior and make people responsible for their actions.
Steps to Curb Cyberbulling
There are steps that can be taken to curb the effects of cyber bullying. People naturally want to give the cyber bully a dose of their own medicine, but this might escalate the problem. It’s often better to help the victim develop a proper response by asking the cyber bully directly to stop. If this does not work, consider using the tips below:
- Configure email to block the cyber bullies address
- Configure instant / text messages to block the cyber bullies screen name or phone number
- Avoid sites and groups where the attacks occur
- Change the victim’s email address, Internet account, and username(s).
- Ignore the cyber bully all together. Don’t give them the satisfaction of having them see you are upset.
If the victim is still being harassed by the cyberbully then:
- Compile a copy of all harassing messages and postings. Save the addresses of web sites where other hostile information, embarrassing pictures or negative messages are posted.
- Seek help from school officials; they might be able to assist in resolving the issue.
- Send a letter (registered) letter to the bully’s parents detailing the messages asking them to stop the bullying.
- If the situation is not resolved, or physical threats are made, contact the police.
Cyber bullying is becoming an increasing serious crime because many victims have a difficult time working through the stress and intimidation. Cyber bullying is not an overnight fad that will go away tomorrow (it is here for the long haul); if nothing is done to eliminate it will continue to plague the world’s youth.
Additional information can be found at:
NJ Department of Education
National Crime Prevention Council
Graphic provided by NJ Coalition for Bullying Awareness and Prevention (www.NJBullying.Org)