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Frequently Asked Questions on Cyber Bullying

What is Cyberbullying?

Online bullying, or cyberbullying, occurs frequently to teens using the Internet, cell phones or other devices. These teens often experience texts or images intended to hurt or embarrass them. Almost half of all American teens are victims of cyber bullying. Whether you’ve been a victim of cyberbullying or know someone who has been cyberbullied, there are steps you and your friends can take to stop cyberbullying and stay cyber-safe.

How are people cyberbullied?

Cyberbullying occurs when an individual uses the Internet or another form of technology to harm other people, in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner. In some cases a person may pretend that they are another person online to trick others. They could spread lies and rumors about victims, trick people into revealing personal information, send or forward mean text messages, and post pictures of victims without their consent.

Is bullying the same as cyberbullying? What makes them different?

While bullying occurs as a face-to-face confrontation, cyberbullying occurs online and involves the use of technologies. Cyberbullying can be even more vicious than bullying since cyberbullying can occur repeatedly in front of a massive online audience, with the cyberbully’s identity unknown, while the victim feels helpless because the attacks can come from several different online sources day in and day out.

Why do people cyberbully others?

People who cyberbully others are often driven by feelings of anger, revenge, and frustration. In many cases, cyberbullies were once victims of bullying who weren’t guided in the proper direction. However, the power-hungry are the most nefarious; they cyberbully with the pure intent of tormenting others or bolstering their ego. Luckily, most cyberbullies do not fall into that category. In a recent poll, 81% of cyberbullies have stated that they cyberbully others because they think it’s “funny”. Many others don’t cyberbully others on purpose. It occurs by accident and the “cyberbully” either sends a message to the wrong recipient or act impulsively without realizing the consequences, thinking it’s not a big deal. Because their motives differ, the solutions and responses to each type of cyberbullying incident has to differ as well. Kids cyberbully primarily to replace the social skills that they were supposed to develop in grade school, middle school, and high school. As children go through their developmental stages, they should be finding ways of working out problems with their peers and getting along with other people, which includes learning how to read social situations, make friends, and understand their social environment. Bullies however, use aggression, violence, and verbal abuse to supplant these skills. They don’t have to learn how to work things out because they solve their problems through harassment and intimidation. Cyberbullies, in addition to using cruel methods, hide behind the anonymity of a computer or cell phone, and over time, bullying becomes a natural response to any situation where they feel socially awkward, insecure, frightened, or embarrassed.

Do cyberbullying victims and perpetrators fit any stereotypical profile?

Neither victims nor perpetrators fit into any stereotypical profile. The “good kids”, the “quiet kids”, as well as “troublesome kids” can be either bullies or victims. Due to the fact that online communication allows bullies to remain anonymous, people often become more emboldened and vicious in their attacks than they would be in a face-to-face encounter. Many cyberbullies have admitted that they wouldn’t have made the same choices if their identities had been known.

How do people react to cyber bullying?

There are two types of reactions. People either react positively or negatively. Positive victim reaction involves blocking communication with the cyberbully, deleting messages without reading them, talking to a friend about the bullying, or reporting the problem to an internet service provider or website monitor. Negative victim reaction involves seeking revenge on the bully, avoiding friends and activities, and even cyberbullying others.

How do I respond and to cyberbullying?

In some scenarios, cyberbullying can be ignored if the case is an unthreatening act, a prank, or a mild tease. The bully may get bored waiting and moves on. Cyberbullies actually want you to respond to them so they can expose your response to their audience. Yet we strongly urge you to take preventive measures against cyberbullying, which can be done by restricting the people who can communicate with you. Restrict others from being able to freely add you to their buddy list. If someone seems aggressive or makes you uncomfortable and doesn’t respond to verbal pleas or formal warnings, he or she should be blocked. You can even warn the sender by reporting the cyberbullying case to an Internet monitor service or a website monitor. In serious cases, you can report incidents to the police if someone threatens you physically. If you feel that you or someone you know is in danger, contact the police immediately and cut off contact with this person or user. Stay offline if you cannot avoid this person.

How can I prevent cyberbullying and stay cyber-safe?

You can refuse to pass along cyberbullying messages. Tell friends to stop cyberbullying, block communication with cyberbullies, and report cyberbullying to a trusted adult. To stay cyber-safe, never post or share your personal information online or your friends’ personal information (this includes your full name, address, telephone number, school name, parents’ names or credit card number). Never share your Internet passwords with anyone and never meet face-to-face with someone you only met online.

If a parent suspects their child is a cyberbully, what should they do?

The parent can start by teaching the child about social responsibility. Have the child imagine the situation in reverse. Cyberbullying can spiral to a massive level, even though cyberbullies may have just sent a post or text that initially started off as a joke. It is also important to teach this same lesson to cyberbullying victims, because many victims in turn can become cyberbullies themselves.

Do cyberbullying victims and perpetrators fit any stereotypical profile?

Television and pop culture have painted an image in our minds of what a bully and a victim should look like. The bully is the tough, muscular teenager that threatens to beat up the scrawny kid with the duct-taped glasses unless he hands over his lunch money. However, the truth is that neither the victims nor the perpetrators of cyber bullying fit into any stereotypical profile. Even though kids are often targeted because of their appearance and the way they speak or dress, there is no way to characterize a victim, since virtually anyone can become a target. Similarly, cyberbullies cannot be identified by a specific stereotype. However, what researchers have found is that bullies are often insecure and emotionally immature individuals who compensate for their weaknesses and lack of confidence with aggression. Bullies have no regard for other people’s boundaries and never consider the potential consequences of their actions. They feel empowered by targeting others and draw strength from their victims’ misery.