The Problem And Invaluable Tips To Prevent It
The impacts of bullying, in whatever form, can be heavily detrimental, leaving the victim feeling humiliated, depressed, and sometimes, even suicidal. Before we delve deeper into the topic, let’s see what bullying actually is.
Bullying refers to the repeated aggressive behavior exhibited by an individual or some people. It happens when a group of people (or an individual) intentionally and repeatedly cause harm or hurt to another group of people or individual. Bullying can take different forms including relational, verbal, physical or online. Bullying has never had positive consequences, but today’s all-pervasive reach of the cyber world has magnified its impact to a great extent.
The cyberbullying landscape
Cyberbullying stands for the occurrence where technology is used to hurt or bully someone. Different forms of it include:
- Humiliating by sharing/posting embarrassing images or videos
- Sharing/sending abusive or hurtful emails or messages
- Creating online profiles to hurt other(s)
- Spreading lies or rumors online
- Excluding from online networks
Unlike traditional bullying, cyber perpetrators don’t need physical strength or power, as they don’t have to meet their victims face-to-face. Young people are particularly vulnerable to bullying and for justified reasons. They’re highly sensitive to peer rejection and appraisal, and are usually more prone to perform cruel and thoughtless things when stimulated by their peers. Add to it the fact that smart devices have become sort of permanent accessory to them – continually available to receive, respond, and record message, images and videos.
While any kind of bullying is hurtful, cyberbullying takes the impact a step ahead because of its own nature. It can allow a lot of people to see it, be difficult to escape, spread quickly, be anonymous, and above all – getting rid of it can be an uphill task.
How to protect yourself?
Though cyberbullying has become a scourge in modern society, there’re ways that can help you turn things against detrimental online behavior. Before we dive into the preventive measures, it’s important to understand that there isn’t any foolproof way to prevent yourself from a bully. And when one occurs, you may need to be persistent in reporting every incident to the authorities until it stops completely.
Understand the source
With more and more people using smart devices, there’s a larger scope of potential harm in terms of cyberbullying. Social media has become a part of the lives of many, and thus, can act as one of the greatest sources. In addition, as the devices are never far from their users, the humiliation can become constant. So, responsible use of social platforms is the first thing when it comes to protecting yourself from cyberbullying.
Keep your personal information private
Maintaining proper diligence is another crucial thing when it comes to posting or sharing your personal information online. Limit the amount of information and personal images you post online. Make sure to always keep your passwords secure and change them regularly. Always set your online profiles to “private” and don’t respond to messages coming from people you don’t know altogether as attackers have been known to hijack profiles of victims to post offensive and rude comments.
Report incident to appropriate authorities
When you’re experiencing cyberbullying, report the incident to the local authorities. They’re good starting points as cyberbullying can be considered a crime if the activity involves things like online stalking, taking a video or photo where you expect privacy, threats of violence etc. Remember to keep record of the activity (like web pages, emails, social media posts etc), including proper dates and times. Try to keep both printed copies and electronic versions of the activity. It’s also crucial to understand your rights and applicable laws, which may vary based on where you reside, and to whom you should escalate things to, in case they go beyond your control.
If you suspect that some negative online activities may happen to you, don’t retaliate or respond fast. Because sometimes, it’s exactly what an aggressor is looking for – to feel more powerful than you, and you certainly don’t want that. When it comes to retaliating, striking back may turn you into a bully, and can trigger a chain reaction. If possible, try to bring yourself out from the situation as that would distract the person from bullying.
Take help of technology
Most social media services and apps let you block the person trying to bully you. Reporting the problem to the service provider is also a good step to prevent progression of the activity. The actions may constitute a violation of the website’s or the service provider’s terms of service. If it doesn’t end there, talk to someone you trust before the behavior starts actually getting to you. Together, you can work through it in terms of taking a stand against it.
Protecting yourself from cyberbullying isn’t an easy task, especially in today’s tech-driven landscape. However, these steps should help you stay protected to a great extent. Having trusted people in your circle can prove to be a good idea as they’ll be available to provide you support and encouragement when things go wrong. It’s also important to keep in mind that prevention is the safest and most effective strategy to avoid cyberbullying and any negative online behavior. Proper implementation of anti-bullying methods is the only way to promote an atmosphere where bullying in any form isn’t acceptable and a culture of respect is prevalent.