Bullying using technology – or cyberbullying - is particularly bad as the bullies are able to hide behind the technology they use, and may not see the devastating effect of their actions on the victims. For the victims, it seems as though it is almost impossible to escape, as the bully can reach you wherever you are at any time.
The impact of bullying is impossible to overstate, and there are examples which have ended in real tragedy, where the victims have taken their own lives. Think about the messages you send, even to your friends – it is best to treat others with respect. What you might send as a joke may be incredibly hurtful to the person receiving it.
Keeping a record of it is important
– it is not necessary to read the messages, but it is important evidence to keep so don’t erase or delete the messages. Save everything, including any text messages, emails, messages in instant messaging or chat, or material on websites, including the time and date where relevant. It may help you to find out who is sending the messages if you don’t already know, and it will definitely make the situation easier to explain to someone when you tell them.
It is important to tell someone about what is happening
as the situation will only get better if this happens. Tell your parent or carer, or a teacher or counsellor at school. Even telling your friends can help. Tell your phone provider or Internet service provider - they may be able to help you to block the calls/texts/emails from particular senders. If the bullying is threatening or harassing then you should tell your local police. There are other organisations who you can talk to and who may be able to help – in the UK you can call Childline on 0800 1111 or talk online to Cybermentors, young people who have been trained to help other young people. Also visit websites which give advice just about bullying, e.g. www.bullying.org and www.bullying.co.uk.
Replying to bullying messages, particularly in anger, is just what the bully wants
. By not replying the bully may think that you did not receive the message, or that you saw it but it didn’t bother you.
It is possible to block messages from certain senders
on email, Messenger and Chat, and on your phone (speak to your phone provider about this). If blocking doesn’t work and the messages are still coming then you can look at changing your contact details (your email, your phone number, your username).
The victims of bullying can feel very alone
. If you can reach out to them you could really be making someone’s life so much better.
- www.bullying.org/external/documents/ACF6F8.pdf - for more information on cyberbullying
- www.beatbullying.org; www.cybermentors.org.uk