Cyber Bullying

Just like in-person bullying, there are many different types of cyber bullying. These acts of harassment are intended to cause harm, emotionally and socially. It is the bully’s goal to isolate the victim from their friends and family through online resources.

Types of cyberbullying include:

  • Sending texts that are threatening
  • Making calls that are silent, a hoax and/or abusive
  • Sharing videos or photos that are embarrassing via smart phone or through a website
  • Altering photos or videos to be embarrassing and then sharing via smart phone or through a website
  • Broadcasting embarrassing or unsuitable materials that is threatening or intended to manipulate the victim
  • Leaving hurtful messages intended to isolate the victim from friends on social media forums or sending mass messages/texts
  • Outing someone by posting confidential information online
  • Stealing ones identity to cause harm in their name
  • Intentionally excluding others from online games or groups
  • Creating hate sites online against an individual
  • Posting menacing messages in local chat rooms with the intent of embarrassing the victim
  • Setting up and/or voting in an insulting poll online

All of the above listed acts can cause emotional and social distress in a victim’s life. In some cases, the victim becomes isolated and could lose friends because of what is posted or said by the cyberbully.

Cyberbullying Platforms

Cyberbullying occurs mostly because the bully feels a sense of being anonymous because he or she is not face-to-face with the victim. There are many different types of cyberbullying occurring today throughout Ireland, mostly due to the fact that there are so many different online platforms that are easily accessible and often hide the true identity of the bully.

Online platforms commonly used by cyberbullies include:

  • Smart phones, through phone calls, texting, online access and messaging services
  • Social networking sites, such as Facebook, SnapChat and Twitter, Video/photo hosting sites, such as YouTube
  •  Instant messaging/chat rooms, available through BBM, MSN, Facebook and Twitter
  •  Blogs, such as creating a blog with the sole intention of writing harmful content about the victim
  • Websites, such as those designed to encourage others to isolate or cause harm to the victim

These are just a few of the more popular online platforms bullies use to harass victims through technology. There are many more, including those available through schools and their websites.

Consequences of Cyberbullying

There are many consequences of cyberbullying, both for the victim and the bully. Cyberbullying has been linked to causing emotional distress in victims, which leads to other consequences as the victim ages. Some consequences of cyberbullying among

victims include:

  • Depression
  • Self Harm
  • Suicide
  • Social isolation
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Smoking
  • Violent behaviour
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Drop in grades
  • Continued stomach pain
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Frequent headaches
  • Drop in interest in activities once enjoyed being a part of
  • Being a victim in an abusive relationship
  • Being an abuser in another relationship
  • Fear of using social media
  • Anxiety when the phone rings

Consequences for the bully include:

  • Facing legal charges in a court
  • Emotional issues
  • Continued behaviour with a new victim
  • Being an abuser in a relationship

Preventing Cyberbullying

In most cases a cyberbully relies on the fact that the victim will not report his or her acts to someone. That is why the number one way to help prevent and stop these acts from continuing is to report cyberbullying to parents, teachers and in severe cases, law enforcement. If you are being harassed online by a cyberbully, it is imperative you find someone you can trust to help. Finding someone to help you will increase your confidence and support you when dealing with the situation. People you can talk to include a close friend, a parent, teacher, an adult or a counsellor.

Dealing with Cyberbullies

It is more common now for teens to communicate through social media sites and other forms of technology, such as smart phones, tablets and computers. Here are some tips on

how to deal with cyberbullying:

  • Do not reply to messages received
  • Keep and document all harassing messages that have been sent to you
  • Avoid answering the phone from blocked numbers and/or numbers you are not familiar with
  • Change phone number, email and social media log in information
  • Do not freely give out the new phone number
  • Do not deal with this on your own
  • Do not retaliate by posting something about the bully online
  • Protect your accounts by changing all passwords
  • Block the cyberbully on your phone and all online accounts
  • Tell the person to stop
  • Talk with your parents, speak with school officials and/or call the Gardai about the harassment

There is no stopping cyberbullies from starting these acts of harassment. However, there are ways to deal with a cyberbully and hopefully prevent any future harassment from occurring.

Here are some tips for parents:

  • Talking with children about being responsible while interacting online
  • Remind children that once something (photo, video or comment) is posted/shared,it cannot be taken back
  • Encourage children to share with you if something happens online that upsets or bothers them
  • Support the victim if you see signs of cyberbullying
  • Report activity to authorities with your child
  • Monitor online activity
  • Assure the child it is not his or her fault