National Bullying Prevention Month: Preventing & Responding to Cyberbullying
Bullying continues to be a concern across many sectors of life in the United States. Cyberbullying has become the most widespread form of bullying for all age groups, and the physical, mental, and emotional effects experienced by victims of cyberbullying can be exacerbated due to the reach of digital platforms and the prevalent use of these platforms in everyday life.
In honor of National Bullying Prevention Month, the Great Lakes ATTC, MHTTC, and PTTC are sharing information and resources from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and StopBullying.gov on how to identify, prevent, and appropriately respond to cyberbullying.
The following lists are from StopBullying.gov.
What is Cyberbullying?
According to StopBullying.gov, the act of cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else using digital or online forms of communication. This includes sharing another person's private information, identifying information (sometimes known as 'doxing'), and/or other private content, such as images or videos, without consent to do so and for the purpose of causing embarrassment or humiliation. The spreading of rumors or false information about another person can be especially harmful when done via online platforms. In fact, some cyberbullying crosses the line into unlawful or criminal behavior.
The most common places where cyberbullying occurs are:
- Social Media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Tik Tok
- Text messaging and messaging apps on mobile or tablet devices
- Instant messaging, direct messaging, and online chatting over the internet
- Online forums, chat rooms, and message boards, suctsh as Reddit
- Online meeting or communications platforms, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Skype
- Online gaming communities
- Internet streaming platforms, such as YouTube and Twitch
Warning Signs of Cyberbullying
Many of the warning signs that cyberbullying is occurring happen around a child’s (or other individual's) use of their device. Some of the warning signs are:
- Noticeable increases or decreases in device use, including texting.
- A child exhibits emotional responses (laughter, anger, upset) to what is happening on their device.
- A child hides their screen or device when others are near, and avoids discussion about what they are doing on their device.
- Social media accounts are shut down or new ones appear.
- A child starts to avoid social situations, even those that were enjoyed in the past.
- A child becomes withdrawn or depressed or loses interest in people and activities.
Responding to Cyberbullying
- Notice – Recognize if there has been a change in mood or behavior and explore what the cause might be. Try to determine if these changes happen around a child’s use of their digital devices.
- Talk – Ask questions to learn what is happening, how it started, and who is involved.
- Document – Keep a record of what is happening and where. Take screenshots of harmful posts or content if possible. Most laws and policies note that bullying is a repeated behavior, so records help to document it.
- Report – Most social media platforms and schools have clear policies and reporting processes. If a classmate is cyberbullying, report it the school. You can also contact app or social media platforms to report offensive content and have it removed. If a child has received physical threats, or if a potential crime or illegal behavior is occurring, report it to the police.
- Support – Peers, mentors, and trusted adults can sometimes intervene publicly to positively influence a situation where negative or hurtful content posts about a child. Public Intervention can include posting positive comments about the person targeted with bullying to try to shift the conversation in a positive direction. It can also help to reach out to the child who is bullying and the target of the bullying to express your concern. If possible, try to determine if more professional support is needed for those involved, such as speaking with a guidance counselor or mental health professional.
You can access detailed information on evidence-based prevention methods to address cyberbullying by downloading StopBullying.gov's How To Prevent Cyberbullying: A Guide for Parents, Caregivers, and Youth.
Learn & Share Information About Cyberbullying
Bullying and Cyberbullying Prevention Strategies and Resources. Anti-Defamation League (adl.org). Retrieved from https://www.adl.org/resources/tools-and-strategies/bullying-and-cyberbullying-prevention-strategies-and-resources
Cyberbullying: What it is and how to stop it . UNICEF For Every Child (unicef.org). Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/end-violence/how-to-stop-cyberbullying
John, A., Glendenning, A. C., Marchant, A., Montgomery, P., Stewart, A., Wood, S., Lloyd, K., & Hawton, K. (2018). Self-Harm, Suicidal Behaviours, and Cyberbullying in Children and Young People: Systematic Review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 20(4), e129. https://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.9044