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Cyberbullying is using electronic devices (e.g., computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices) to deliberately harass, mistreat or upset someone else. It is when someone repeatedly makes fun of another or picks on another through hurtful comments, messages, threats, rumors, pictures, or videos posted or circulated online.
According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, approximately 37% of middle school and high school students reported they had been cyberbullied.
While bullying is nothing new for students, online cruelty magnifies the hurt and humiliation for the target. In fact, many experts say that cyberbullying is worse than in-person bullying. Why is that?
- Targets may not know who is doing it.
- The hurtful actions can go viral and include a larger audience.
- The bullying is experienced in a very public way.
- It is easier to say cruel things when typing on a screen than in person.
- Most cyberbullying takes place without adults seeing it.
Students who cyberbully can leave the target at risk for serious problems including lower self-esteem, anger, frustration, and a variety of other emotional and psychological problems including having suicidal thoughts.
If you are being cyberbullied, you deserve help and the most important thing is to speak up about it and advocate for yourself. You should:
- Know that it is not your fault and you are not alone.
- Tell someone – an adult, your friends, or report it to OK2SAY. Don’t suffer in silence.
- Do not respond or retaliate.
- Block the person who is cyberbullying.
- Save the evidence; keep copies or screenshots including dates and times.
- If you are a target of harassment, threats, and other forms of misuse, report the abuse. Click here for a list of contact information to report cyberbullying for social media apps, gaming networks, and related companies.
Students who choose to cyberbully should understand that there are consequences for mistreating others online. If a student crosses the line and uses social media to put someone in fear of bodily harm or death, that could be a crime under Michigan’s cyberbullying law.
Witnesses to cyberbullying usually know it is wrong when they see it. Don’t be a bystander. Choose to use your power to make a difference and stand up for someone who is being bullied.
- Reach out to the target with kindness and see how to help.
- Report your concern to an adult.
- Don’t support the student who is cyberbullying by commenting, forwarding, or laughing.
- Tell someone who is cyberbullying to stop it.
- Crisis Text Line serves anyone in any type of crisis: Visit https://www.crisistextline.org or Text “START” to 741741
- The Cyberbullying Research Center action steps for bystanders: https://cyberbullying.org/standing-up-to-cyberbullying-tips-for-teens.pdf
- The Cyberbullying Research Center Action Steps for Teens: https://cyberbullying.org/standing-up-to-cyberbullying-tips-for-teens
- Contact information to report abuse for social media apps, gaming networks, and related companies. https://cyberbullying.org/report
- Cyberbullying Research Center