When Governments and non government organizations produce websites on bullying and cyber safety as well as hosting conferences on cyber bullying around the world you know it is a serious problem. If you, or a family member have ever been a victim of bullying or cyber bullying, you will already know how serious it is.
This is when someone uses the internet, mobile phones or other digital technologies to harm others.
This extends to include cyber threats which is often the cause of psychological harm and has led to suicide in many serious cases. Public concern at the extent of this crime has led to legislation and educational campaigns to increase awareness.
This has occurred around the world and is work in process as the effectiveness of legislation evolves.
The usual definition is when a young person uses the internet or phone to target another young person for harm. The targeted child, preteen or teen is then intimidated, tormented, harassed, threatened, humiliated or embarrassed by posts and messages.
However, let us be clear about this, in the business world cyber bullying also often occurs, but it can be sexual in nature or even for financial advantage. When an adult targets a young person for harassment or exploitation it is called cyber stalking. Online bullying has been known to lead to tragedy, even suicide.
A common form of online bullying is called "Bullying by Proxy". Bullying by proxy involves someone who starts the process and then encourages others join in and participate. Bullying by proxy can be especially dangerous because it increases the intimidation factor and adults may get involved with the harassment and it can lead to stalking and other potential crimes.
In the past bullying used to be done by groups using pressure tactics, body language, exclusion and shunning. There are incidents where people and organizations stupidly accepted bribes to do this. The processes that led to the Global Financial Crisis could be viewed as a form of bullying by proxy. There are some high profile court cases that have led to long gaol terms by the perpetrators. However, it will not help the victims who lost their money, both individuals and organizations.
The methods are diverse, they can take the form of:
The methods used by perpetrators is only limited by their imagination and emerging social media.
Parents can deal with cyber bullying by telling their children not to engage in online arguments. Ignored bullies are ineffective, but it takes a strong person to do this and can be a disaster. Keep a file of the bullying activities including posts, emails and messages. These can be tracked and when it comes time to confront the bully or the bully's parents you have a record. People can be blocked, sites can be alerted, and forums monitored. If forums and sites will not cooperate, leave them behind and find ones that will. Remember: never share personal information with open forums and in unsecured chat rooms.
For identity protection and avoidance of bullies, it's best to keep quiet on as much of your own personal information as possible - this philosophy is especially important for a minor's safety and protection!
If you are not sure what to do and how to handle cyber bullies I would refer to the resource at the top of this article.
We are always interested to hear feedback about better publications and videos to share. There are books and digital tools to help victims, parents and schools to fightback and here are some of them: