As educators, we strive to promote a climate of respect. Bullying behavior is evident on the playground, but it is more difficult to detect and respond to when it takes place online. In addition, students need to recognize cyberbullying. They need to know when the line is crossed and a joke or teasing has gone too far. The first step is to build an awareness of cyberbullying. Next, students should know what they can do and who they can go to for help if they are a victim. Promote a community of responsible digital citizens in the classroom.
What Is a Cyberbully?
Cyberbullies are people who threaten another person by using the Internet to post hurtful or embarrassing messages, images, or videos. Cyberbullies can make a person feel scared, worried, or angry.
Often a bully will say that the message “was just a joke.” Cyberbullying is NO JOKING MATTER and it is NOT FUNNY.
Cyberbullying is illegal. In some countries cyberbullying is a hate crime that can result in a fine or jail time. In other countries, cyberbullying is slander and a lawsuit can be filed against the bully. At some schools, cyberbullying is a reason for expulsion or cause to ban use of Internet at school.
Do Not Be a Cyberbully
Be a responsible digital citizen. Do not be a bully!
- Do not continue to e-mail someone after they have asked you to stop.
- Do not post any comments online, using e-mail, chat, or social media sites, which would be hurtful or embarrassing to another person.
- Do not threaten anyone using e-mail, chat, or social media sites.
- Do not post or tag a picture of anyone without their consent.
- Do not share personal information about another person without their consent.
What Should You Do if You are a Victim of Cyberbullying?
When you are bullied it can make you feel worried or scared. Do not ignore the problem. You can stop cyberbullying. To do this:
- Tell an adult about the bullying.
- Do not delete the message from the bully. It is evidence.
- Inform your Internet service provider. They can help find the identity of the bully.
- If a message contains a death threat or threat to cause bodily harm, contact the police.
What Can You Do to Stop Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying can be done using e-mail, instant messaging, bulletin boards, websites, polling booths, and more.
- E-Mail: Cyberbullies send hateful messages to a person using e-mail. Often the cyberbully will register for a free e-mail account so no one will be able to guess their identity. They may register for an e-mail address that has a threatening tone such as firstname.lastname@example.org.
What can you do if you are a victim? Add the e-mail address of the sender to a blocked e-mail list. This will stop new messages from being delivered. It is possible to trace the source of an e-mail. You can contact the Internet service provider of the e-mail account to try to get the company to delete the e-mail address of the cyberbully.
- Instant Messaging: Cyberbullies send hateful messages to a person using chat software. Often the cyberbully will change their nickname to include a nasty message such as “Name is ugly” or ” I hate name.” Everyone who receives an instant message from the cyberbully will be able to read the mean nickname.
What can you do if you are a victim? Add the contact information of the sender to a blocked list. This will stop new messages from being delivered. If the cyberbully is a student, you can contact their parent or teacher to let them know about the abuse.
- Bulletin Boards: Cyberbullies post hateful messages to a bulletin board that people can read. The messages often include the victim’s telephone number or e-mail address to get other people to abuse the person.
What can you do if you are a victim? Contact the manager of the bulletin board. The manager can delete the hateful message and stop the cyberbully from posting any new messages.
- Websites: Cyberbullies create web pages that have mean pictures or hateful information about another person.
What can you do if you are a victim? Most Internet service providers have rules about the content of websites. When cyberbullies create hateful web pages they are breaking the rules. The Internet service provider can request that the bully remove the content on the web page or delete the website.
- Polling Booths: Cyberbullies post online surveys where people vote for the ugliest, fattest, dumbest boy or girl.
What can you do if you are a victim? Polling booths are often part of a service offered by an online social community. Most communities have rules about the content members can post. When cyberbullies create hateful polls they are breaking the rules. The operator of the social community can request that the bully remove the poll or delete their member account.
- Imposter: Cyberbullies will hack into the victim’s account. As an imposter, they will send fake e-mails or post rude comments.
What can you do if you are a victim? Protect your identity. To do this, create a password that is difficult to guess. Do not tell your password to anyone, except your parent or teacher. Always log out when you leave a computer. If someone hacks into your account, change your password right away.
For more Internet activities and digital citizenship lessons, see TechnoKids’ technology project TechnoJourney.