Hope Sitwell was just 13 years old, living in Florida. She decided to sext a picture of her breasts to her boyfriend. This picture was then shared with many students in several schools. The picture was enough to begin the cyberbullying process. A Hope Hater Page was also setup on social media, something that this young teen didn’t even tell her parents about.
Instead, she decided to choose an ultimate result. She hung herself.
The cases of cyberbullying are numerous and date back to the 1990s, yet instead of getting better, it is getting worse. Even when a suicide isn’t the result of cyberbullying, the incident can affect self-esteem, confidence, and friendships. We must take an appropriate action whenever cyberbullying is experienced.
Here are some solutions to cyberbullying that may be able to help someone you know.
1. Limit Personal Information That is Shared.
If someone doesn’t know your telephone number, address, or other personal information, then it becomes more difficult to take online bullying offline. One of the worst issues of cyberbullying is that it never stops. This can help to make it stop.
2. Talk to People.
By being aware of cyberbullying and initiating conversations about it, we can all work together to help recognize it and then eliminate it. Encourage children to discuss anything they find online that makes them uncomfortable. Parents – check on what kids are doing online and don’t just take their word for it. Kid – let your parents help. You don’t have to do this alone.
3. Never Go Somewhere to Meet a Person You’ve Met Online.
If you don’t know the person who wants to meet you, then don’t go meet them. This applies more to children than adults, but the advice still applies. The number of issues that people have encountered by using dating sites is similar to the overall statistics of cyberbullying.
4. Do Not Post Pictures of Your Body Online.
Any pictures that are uploaded to the internet should be appropriate and respectful of yourself and others. If you would be embarrassed if someone else outside of your friends, family, or intimate partners saw the photo, then it shouldn’t go online.
5. Be Respectful to Others.
Just because someone is being mean doesn’t give anyone the right to be equally mean. One of the easiest ways to stop cyberbullying is to permanently block those who might be trying to cause harm. This can be done by reporting emails, messages, or status updates to the platform that hosted the message in the first place. If you respond in kind to a cyberbully, you’re giving them the reaction they were wanting in the first place.
6. Never Give Out Your Password.
Even your best friends should not have your password, but your parents should if you’re a teen or younger. This isn’t because your parents want to invade your privacy. It is because they want to make sure you are safe. As for the parents: there must be an effort to develop a nurturing relationship that encourages kids and teens to discuss their concerns. More than half of all people see bullying happen at least once per week, but it is rarely reported to anyone.
7. Save Whatever Evidence You Have.
Back before the internet, the only evidence of bullying came either from eyewitnesses, a bruise, or a black eye. With cyberbullying, you have written evidence that can help to identify the perpetrator. Capture the words, pictures, video, or other content that has been posted. Save the IP address if you have it. Print out emails. Even if it is minor stuff, saving the evidence will help you be able to establish a pattern of harassment that can be used to make this behavior stop for good.
8. Stand Up and Say Something.
By saying nothing, we all empower bullies to keep doing what they are doing. Cyberbullies feel anonymous, but they are not. Even if you aren’t the target of a cyberbully, you may be able to report the behavior when you see it. This is something that we must all be willing to do, even if it seems scary at the time.
When we respond to bullying behaviors with a calm, logical reaction, we take the energy out of the experience for the bully. This may not stop the harassment right away, but it can over time. Walk away, block the bully, and speak with someone. That way you can empower yourself instead of letting the cyberbully have control over your life.
Crystal Lombardo is a contributing editor for Vision Launch. Crystal is a seasoned writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience. She has been an editor of three popular blogs that each have had over 500,000 monthly readers.