Cyberbullying: How to stay safe
If you’re experiencing cyberbullying, it can hurt and leave you feeling isolated, humiliated, confused and scared. Even if it takes time for the situation to get better, you do have the strength to get through this.
Cyberbullying can follow you into your home, making it feel like you can’t escape. It’s natural to feel alone, but don’t lose hope. There are steps you can take to protect yourself.
What to do if you’re experiencing cyberbullying
If you’re experiencing cyberbullying, your instinct might be to react immediately. It’s important to take a breath and avoid responding right away. Instead of deleting the message or post, take a screenshot so you have a record of the harassment. If you’ve received a harassing message on your phone or through social media, block the person who sent it.
You can also try speaking to someone you trust to help you find solutions. Here are some tips for getting support:
- Think about your feelings: do you need emotional support? Someone to help you figure out what to do next? Someone to help you talk to your school or the police? Once you know what would be most helpful for you right now, it’ll be easier to choose someone to talk to.
- Find the right person: if the first person you talk to isn’t helpful, tell someone else. It can take a few tries before you find someone who can help.
- Talk it out: be honest with the person you choose to speak to. If you really just need someone to listen, tell them that. If you’re not ready to report the cyberbullying yet, let them know.
- Ask for help: if you’re ready to report the harassment and need help doing so, be very clear that this is what you want. Ask the person what they think the first step should be. Learning about your school’s bullying prevention policy is a good place to start.
- Contact the police: if you’re being physically threatened or feel that your safety is in danger, you can call the police.
How to stay safe online
The following tips can help you protect yourself from cyberbullying and stay safe online:
- keep your passwords private, even from your friends
- learn about privacy settings and reporting features on social media
- be mindful of what you post and share online
How to block someone
Blocking someone can vary depending on your mobile device, computer or tablet. You can search for your specific device online along with the question, “How do I block someone on ‘X’?” If you’re searching for information on a social media channel or website, your results should include help forums to assist you with your privacy questions.
Kids Help Phone counsellors can also help you through this process at 1-800-668-6868.
What to do if you’re witnessing cyberbullying
Any time you read an abusive comment, look at an embarrassing photo or follow a link to a website designed to abuse or embarrass someone, you’re a bystander to cyberbullying.
Just like face-to-face bullying, when you witness someone being cyberbullied, you have a role to play in helping to stop the abuse.
People who are cyberbullying are often motivated by the belief that others will approve or think it’s funny. Speaking out against what’s happening by telling the person it’s not OK can motivate them to stop.
If you feel that it is safe to do so, you can address the behaviour by messaging the person who is cyberbullying. Let them know that what they’re doing is wrong or that you’re upset by it.
If the content is on social media, you can report the post as inappropriate and ask for it to be taken down.
How to help someone who is experiencing cyberbullying
It can be hard to help someone you know who is experiencing cyberbullying. As someone who cares, you can help by being a friend. Reach out and ask how your friend is doing, remind them that you’re here and tell them that it isn’t their fault.