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How to handle Cyberbullying

ii-cyberbullying

The internet is a big part of our lives and everyone has a right to feel safe online! Social media can reveal a lot about our lives to the digital world. Most sites want to know all kinds of personally identifying information about you, and unfortunately some nasty people might use this information to bully others.

We’re big believers in online safety so we’ve put together some steps you can follow if someone’s bullying you or a loved one online.

Stay calm and talk to friends or family

The first thing to do is stay calm… at least online. It may be tempting to retaliate with a sick burn or a snappy one-liner but bullies just love to know that they’ve got under your skin, so it’s better to say nothing at all!

You might also be considering deleting your account, however this can have unintended side effects. For example, the bully might create a new account to impersonate you, using your former username. Instead, seek out family or close friends that make you feel safe and supported. They can give you the support you need and help you to address the bullying. Bullying can make you feel unloved and alone, so if you see a friend being bullied, reach out and let them know you’re there for them.

If you’re a parent, be aware that your child might not be comfortable talking to you. They might want to handle it themselves, or they could be afraid that you’ll cause a scene and stop them using the internet altogether. Don’t forget that they may use the internet to talk to their closest friends! If your child talks to you, listen calmly and let them know their feelings are normal. Keep an eye on their mood, and make sure they are eating and sleeping well.

Collect some evidence

If you intend to report the bullying, it’s important to make some records of the bullying. Take screenshots of the bully’s posts, and mark them with the date, time, and screen name of the person who posted it (even if it’s a fake name). If they posted photos or videos, download those as well – they may have hidden information (metadata) that might be helpful. Consider making a spreadsheet with fields like what the bully did, the date it happened, when you found out about it, their screen name, where you put your evidence, and any actions you took with the website involved.

Save everything to a folder so you can include it when making a report. If it’s a large file size, you might need to right click and “Send” it to a Compressed (zipped) folder on a Windows PC. On a MAC, just right click and select “Compress Items”.

Lock your account(s) down and review your privacy settings

Once you’ve collected your evidence, feel free to block your bullies. Don’t be afraid to be heavy-handed: anyone who upsets you must go! One of the easiest ways to stay safe online is simply to be careful about what you share. Depending on what’s happening, you might want to check the privacy settings on your social accounts. You can also make sure you remove any personally identifying information such as your phone number, address, location, or date of birth. There may be photos you want to set to private so people you don’t trust can’t see them.

To be sure, you can test your settings by logging out and viewing your profile to see what’s visible, or ask a friend to help you out. If there’s more than one bully, or people you don’t trust are viewing your account, it might be time to make your account completely private.

Report the bullying

Depending on how serious it is, you may want to report the bullying. Most social media sites have a way to report users or posts but they’ll want details. This is where all the evidence you’ve collected will come in handy. If your bully posted private messages, photos, or videos, you can also ask for these to be removed. If someone is using images or videos that you created against you, that means that you own the copyright and you can escalate to a DMCA takedown notice if necessary. If you are a minor (under 18) make sure you let them know when you ask for photos to be removed.

Cyberbullying directed at minors can be reported to the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner, who can also help you get cyberbullying material removed. Adults can report incidents to the police, or to the ACORN – the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network.

13 comments

  1. Kaye Phillips says:

    Great post, however 1 thing – you say “Take screenshots of the bully’s posts” an instruction on how to take a screenshot might be a good idea, not everyone is computer literate.

    Remember, if someone is bullying you it is because they think you are better than they are and they are trying to drag you down to their level – Don’t let them.

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Kaye,

      Great thoughts on bullies. Appreciated!
      With regards to taking screenshots, just pressing “Print Screen” on your keyboard will copy an image of whatever is on your screen to the Clipboard. You can then paste it into an e-mail, graphics program (Paint, for instance) and go from there!

      – Leo.

  2. Nigel says:

    Hi,

    Alot of people dont have a laptop/PC and use only mobile. Also the person may be using an App…

    Below text taken from a quick google of subject for Android phone.

    On most Android phones, you can take a screenshot by holding down the Sleep/wake button and the volume-down button simultaneously. Hold these buttons down until your screen flashes.

    The process differs on some phone models, though. For example, on Samsung’s Galaxy phones—and select phones from other manufacturers that feature a home button—hold down the power button and the home button until the screen flashes.

    If your Android phone has a home button, and if the standard Android method doesn’t work, then try this power-home button combination.

  3. Dave says:

    Also you might want to specify the different levels of how serious it is before you report it. Otherwise you will have people reporting really silly things that will make the police laugh at you. For example if someone calls you a name that hurts your feelings do you really think Police are going to waste their time.
    I dont think so. They will laughave at your expense it happened to me years ago. I found out he hard way that a bully was leaving me annoying mesages constantly and the police couldn’t do a thing because they said to me the bully was call8ng me me personal names just to hurt my feelings and so they couldn’t get involved because it’s not against the law to call someone a personal name. Otherwise they would be swamped with nuisance claims. That’s my 2 cents worth.

  4. Dr Sue Rodger-Withers says:

    Great post. I am an older member of society – a babyboomer – and just want to add that often the focus on cyberbullying is on kids….which is a good thing.

    However, don’t forget older people too, especially those who didn’t grow up in the cyber-age and social media – and for many of whom where computers were nothing more than work tools.

    I became ill and ventured onto social media, thinking it would be like interacting with people in the real world. Thant was my first mistake.

    It wasn’t long before I found that many people “friend” you because you support their pet ideals or beliefs and the moment you express a slightly different view, you are off the Christmas card list.

    Not only that, some will attack you, even make up stories and lies about you. SOme “friends” even had me removed from other groups – all because we disagreed (not even in a nasty manner) over one issue.

    Trying to make amends, like real friends do, only made it worse. I was ignored, blocked, abused in their little closed groups (other people sent me screen shots of their conversations) etc., got their like-minded friends to have a go too. People I barely knew or even knew me. The more I tried to resolve a simple difference of opinion, the worse they became. Then a few cyber-wise people who had seen this said “it’s classic school-girl bullying”.

    I was totally unprepared for anything like this and was distressed, eventually seeking help from a psychologist who specialises in cyber-bullying.

    I had screenshots and the psychologist confirmed it as garden variety bullying, narcissistic and alternating between passive aggressive and aggressive – to the point where I could have taken legal action. I didn’t – that would have meant making a step towards being the same as them.

    The point is – this is happening to all age groups, including older people who are unaware that social media has become the playground of bullies and narcissists. Becareful – your “friends” are not really your friends, unless you know them in real life too.

  5. Judith Carrick says:

    I have an Apple iPhone, how do I take a screen shot with it?

    • Gina Thompson says:

      Hi Judith, to take a screenshot on an iPhone, you just have to press the Home button and the screen lock button at the same time. The Home button is the circular button at the bottom of the iPhone. On most iPhones, the lock button is located on the top edge of the iPhone. On iPhone 6 and 7, however, the lock button is on the right-hand edge. Once you’ve taken a screen shot, it should show up in your Camera Roll. Hope that helps! :)

  6. WELL DONE BUT THERE IS ANOTHER WAY THAT WE ARE PUSHING BUT INVOLVES THE GOVERMENT

  7. Stuart says:

    No one has a right to ‘feel safe’ online as one’s feeling is very subjective.

    The rest of the article is pretty good though starting with step 1:
    Don’t feed the trolls!

  8. Kaye Phillips says:

    G’day Leo,

    Your comment is exactly what I mean, I will ask you the question I was once asked “Where is the Print Screen key”?

    I have a Prt Sc key but not a Print Screen key, I made the mistake of saying press the print screen key and the person I was helping was looking for a key that said Print Screen not Prt Sc.

    That same person also asked me where the Control key is, it might not be obvious (lol) but she was and is technologically Challenged.

    In my case if I am using my Desktop I just have to press the Prt Sc however on my laptop I have to press FN + End.

  9. Aldo says:

    To take a screen shot on iPad or iPhone etc press left side button and ” home button” together . Image will be saved into pictures , cheers and to the bullies , ” get a life and grow up” , there’s more to life than being a sad bully !

  10. Anon for obvious reasons says:

    Don’t expect anything from the police. I have been targeted for a long time by a couple of cyber bullies. I have a large amount of proof, but the police refused to even look at it. I never heard back from ACORN either.

    If you are an adult and you are targeted on line, you are on your own.

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