Monday, October 10, 2016

Cyberbullying

Have you heard the term 'cyberbullying' before? Do you know what it is?

The term refers to bullying that goes on in an online forum, such as texting, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or any other place where people post comments and engage in conversations, such as through e-mail or in a chat room, which might be while playing online games. The bullying is very similar to any other form of bullying..... It includes:

  • Making fun of someone for any reason whatsoever
    • For example, someone with a disability or someone who looks 'different'
    • It might be someone who has a particular body shape, like tall, short, thin, overweight
    • People can be picked on because they are smart or slow, intelligence-wise
    • People who speak differently can be a target
    • A 'new' student
    • Bullies will even pick on someone for their hair color or clothes or backpack
    • No particular reason, just that someone others are intimidated by decides to pick on someone
    • If someone is perceived as a 'teacher's pet' he or she might be picked on
  • Threatening people with harm
  • Saying things like "I wish you would just die" or "you are worthless" or "you are so stupid" via text, Facebook post, Twitter post, or on any other social media site or where virtually anyone can read it: this shares the statement to potentially thousands of people



With cyberbullying, bullies can harass their victims anonymously...they can make up many different screen names, or in some cases post as 'guest' or 'anon'. This way, they can post multiple times and make it look like it was several different people when in fact it was one. This makes the bullies particularly bold and at the same time cowardly: they feel confident nobody will find out who's doing it, so they keep it up for long periods of time and are very aggressive with their posts.



These people have also been known to post while posing as other people, that is, using someone else's online or 'screen' name, without that person's knowledge. The victim then thinks a friend (and possibly a true longtime friend) is doing it, while the actual bully is unknown and it is not, in fact, the friend.

The "bully" may also be a group of bullies working together, sharing what they have posted or texted-and sharing the posts by forwarding texts, re-tweeting, sharing posts, for example, and thinking it's funny, and that they are getting away with it.

Cyberbullying happens 24/7, and from virtually anywhere the bullies have access to the internet; usually, their phones. Comments 'go viral' the instant the person taps or clicks, and can (in theory) be seen by millions of people, not only those who know you. Once any of the posts have been made, it is sometimes impossible to delete them. Bullies will also find pictures, whether they are really of the victim or not, and post them with nasty captions.


What should you do if cyberbullying is happening to you?

  • First, tell someone such as a parent or teacher, some adult who might be able to help make it stop: don't wait until it escalates. Someone should know it's happening.
  • Take screen shots of what is posted and print them, keep the printouts in a place where you can find them easily
  • If the bullying is happening via text messages, do not delete those texts.
  • Remember, if there is something about you or your life that you don't want everyone to know, then don't post it. Even people who mean you no harm may share these things with others who do.
  • Don't ever tell anyone your passwords, not even your friends. It could wind up in the wrong hands accidentally. If you feel bullied, change your passwords often. Make it harder for them to get into your accounts.
  • Don't ever agree to meet someone in person if you have only ever chatted with him or her online
  • Turn off your technology sometimes. Talk to people. Go outside. Read something.
  • If it's happening on Facebook, report it, and block anyone from your account other than people you completely trust. If you have any doubts about someone, or don't know the person well, he or she is not allowed to see anything you post, at least for a while until you figure out who is doing the bullying.
  • At Twitter, block (don't only 'unfollow') people who are or who may well be doing this to you.
  • At Tumblr, at least silence but preferable unfollow anyone except your most completely trusted friends. Remember, if you have only 'met' them online, you don't really know people.
  • See if  you can figure out who is doing it.
  • Contact the venue where it's happening: Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, for example, all have policies against cyberbullying and will want to know when someone is being abusive.
  • As much as you really, really, want to, do not respond to the posts/don't retaliate. It won't help.
Life Lesson #2435: If someone texts you 183 times to threaten or otherwise bother you, and you finally cave on the 184th text to say: Stop it, leave me alone!! Your abuser just learned that it takes 183 texts to get you to respond. This person should be blocked from your phone, but if he/she is simply using a number you don't identify, you should not answer: add that number to your rejected calls, and do nothing in terms of responding. Ignore, ignore, ignore. Consider changing your number and only giving it to a very few people.
  • Close your social media account(s) and open a new one with a different name, or alternately, just close your account and make yourself unavailable for online assault. If anyone asks, just tell them "I'm not on Twitter anymore." No need to explain.
  • Keep track of when and how often it's happening, and the screen names of those doing it: is it always the same people, or is it a new crop all the time?
  • It is likely that the participants  are talking amongst themselves and planning their next assault together.
  • If you are afraid for your safety, get in touch with law enforcement 

Here is Facebook's page for help if you are being harassed there:   https://www.facebook.com/help/263149623790594

Twitter's safety advice and how to report:
https://support.twitter.com/articles/15794#


Being wise about sharing your personal information online.
http://www.askthejudge.info/the-dangers-of-over-sharing-on-social-media/
It mentions geo-tagging: see Triogenius' post "A Geo What?" April 16, 2012-people can find out where your pictures were taken, and thereby where you live and hang out.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon. If you are being bullied, you are among between 9 and 13% of all high school age students. And those are only reported instances---it is probably happening more than that. It happens to both males and females, females slightly more often.



If anyone thinks it's not a big deal, that is, if you are doing some of these things, consider the consequences to the person being bullied:

  • People may turn to alcohol or drug use to escape being unhappy
  • They may skip school, or refuse to attend school
  • Grades may drop when they were good before
  • Changing schools may not be the answer to the problem
  • The person's self-esteem drops
  • Health problems such as weight loss, weight gain, not being able to sleep, headaches, etc. may occur in people who were healthy before the bullying started
  • Victims of bullying sometimes think about suicide
  • Feeling lonely, excluded, and powerless

Laws that pertain to punishment for bullying, including cyberbullying, fall under 'Freedom of Speech;' that law does not include freedom to express yourself in such a way as to harass or harm others in any way. Bullying and stalking are also very similar, and both are punishable by law.


 This is the statute in MN concerning stalking:
 
 A video about cyberbullying:
Other helpful sites:

 This has a number of really interesting "related posts" towards the bottom of the article:

 
 

 
 
 



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