August 9, 2018
Helping Students Deal with Cyber-Bullies
Steve Breakstone & Mike Dreiblatt
Bullies want a reaction to their bullying. And most bullies need an audience. Having people watch, or even join in on the 'fun', empowers a bully. The same thing goes for cyber-bullying. Many cyber-bullies look for ways to involve their peers in a 'cyber-fight' or other cruel behavior on the internet. Whether a target or encouraged to join in on bullying, discuss the following with your children. Students need to know how to respond to cyber-bullying.
How to respond if you're in a cyber-fight
Email or text the following:
- "I really don't want to talk about this online."
- "I think it's easier to talk about this over the phone or in person."
- "Can I call you right now? (or, "Can we talk tomorrow at school at [suggested time]?").
If the other person continues the fight, log off.
What to do if you are being cyber-bullied
People who cyber bully do so because it makes them feel powerful. Anything you can do to give the impression that you are not bothered will make it less satisfying for the cyber-bully. For example:
Turn off your computer or cell phone -- Being ignored gets boring for the bully.
Block mean messages -- 71% of teens think that blocking abusive messages is the most effective way to prevent cyber-bullying. ISPs, email programs and social network programs have information about blocking messages.
Don't respond or cyber-bully back -- You don't have to be a doormat, but don't be provoked into retaliating because that is exactly what the bully wants. Don't play their game!
Talk to an adult you trust -- Let them know what you need them to do (and not do) to put a stop to the bullying. It's also a good idea to try and tell the people that you live with. Being bullied can cause changes in your behavior that will worry them. If they know what's going on, they'll be more understanding.
Print it out or save it -- If you're receiving bullying messages of any kind, print them out or save them. You, and the adults in your life, may want the evidence if you ever decide to take action against a cyber-bully.
Address your feelings -- Being bullied can feel really bad. Talk to a friend or trusted adult, write out your feelings in a journal, or express your feelings through art, music or creative writing.
Participate in activities that you are good at and make you feel good -- Being bullied is upsetting. Being involved in activities you enjoy can help cancel out the way the cyber-bully makes you feel.