Updated: Apr 21, 2020
One in three children have admitted to experiencing some kind of cyberbullying over the course of their lifetime. Young people who are victims of online bullying are two times more likely to have suicidal thoughts and tendencies. With these statistics in mind, it is important to recognize the signs cyberbullying and learn ways to support the victim
What is different about cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying can take place at any time, even when the victim is not at school or in the work place. It invades the victim's personal space at home.
The audience can be very large and reached rapidly. Electronically forwarded content is hard to control, and there is always a worry of the content resurfacing. This can make it difficult for targets to move on.
People who cyberbully can oftentimes remain anonymous.
Cyberbullying can be between peers and across generations. Teachers have oftentimes been the targets of their students -- students may find an embarrassing image or video of them and share it throughout the school.
Some cyberbullying instances are unintentional. They can be the result of careless thinking or lack of awareness of the consequences.
Many cyberbullying instances can contain evidence, which is why it's important to know how to respond.
Signs your loved one may be experiencing cyberbullying:
The victim appears nervous when they receive a text, instant message, or email.
They seem nervous or reluctant to go to school, and they may even pretend to be ill to avoid it all together
They don't share any information about their online activity
They are inexplicably angry or appear to be suffering from depression, especially after going online
They abruptly shut off or walk away from their computer mid-use
They withdraw from social activities with friends and family
They seem withdrawn and quiet in general
They suffer from unexplained stomachaches or headaches
They have trouble sleeping at night or they sleep all day long (this is often a symptom of depression)
They have unexplained weight loss or weight gain (also a sign of depression)
They express suicidal thoughts or attempt suicide
How to support victims of cyberbullying
Support the young person being bullied
As with other forms of bullying, the target may be in need of emotional support. Reassure them that it is not their fault and that you are here to help them -- let them know that they did the right thing by telling someone.
It is essential to advise the target to not retaliate in any way or reply angrily to any of the messages. This is what the bully wants -- by not reacting, the bully may be confused and not continue with their actions.
Report the bullying
It is important to always report the bully. Most social networking sites have features that allow users to report cyberbullying. In certain instances, it may be necessary to report any online threats to local law enforcement. Always keep evidence of the bullying in case you need it in the future.
If you believe your loved one is experiencing cyberbullying, visit stopbullying.gov to view your options. It is imperative you seek professional help immediately if you believe your loved one is struggling. If they threaten suicide, call 911.