Mark Barkdull is a program manager at LDS Family Services. Here he shares what to do if you are the victim of or if you see cyberbullying.
With the Internet at our fingertips, finding people without headphones in their ears and devices in their hands is becoming ever more difficult. As our dependence on technology continues to increase and the virtual world becomes more rooted into our culture, there is greater opportunity for people to bully and abuse while remaining anonymous. There may be no greater time than the present to become more guarded from those who use the Internet to be unkind.
Anytime people become targets of deliberate, repeated emotional harm by means of electronic devices, they are victims of what is now called “cyberbullying.” Where face-to-face intimidation and aggression once ruled, bullies are finding the Internet to be an effective tool to accomplish the same thing.
Unfortunately, cyberbullying is not a fleeting trend; in fact, recent statistics suggest that this behavior is approaching an epidemic. Consider the following statistics:
- Over the past three years, incidents of reported cyberbullying increased 87%.
- In 2015, 25% of teenagers report that they have been the victims of cyberbullying.
- More than half of adults and teens state that they will never confide in their parents, spouses, or other loved ones when cyberbullying happens to them.
- One-third of cyberbullying victims state that their bullies issued online threats.
- Women are more likely than men to become victims of cyberbullying (59% to 41% respectively).
Given the prevalence of this problem, social scientists have studied how individuals can better protect themselves from becoming a target or, if they are a target, how to stop the bullying and get help.
Here are some practical tips that victims of cyberbullying could try on their own:
- Inform a friend, teacher, or family member immediately if you become the victim of cyberbullying. Most victims suffer silently through bullying without seeking help.
- Don’t post personal information online.
- Restrict access of your online profile to trusted friends and family only.
- Never open messages from those you don’t know.
- Protect your password.
- Log out of your online accounts when you leave a computer.
- Don’t argue with a bully. Ignoring their behavior online but reporting it to an adult is always the best option.
- Pause before you post a message or a photograph. Ask yourself, “Do I really want to post this? Is it worth it?”
- If friends of yours are suggesting that they should bully someone, either online or in person, tell them that it is not a good idea and that besides being a mean thing to do, there could be major consequences (in some states, legal action can be taken against cyberbullies).
- If you see someone being cyberbullied, be brave and stand up for him or her. Also, report the behavior immediately to a trusted adult.
For more tips on how to stand up to bullies, check out this Mormon Message: Bullying - Stop It