Online Harassment: How to Keep the Internet Safe from Bullies
Going online is part of society’s daily ritual. People use it to find information, look up old friends, communicate with family, and a lot more besides. Unfortunately, the net has a seedier side and it’s a lot more insidious than many think.
It seems that the anonymous nature of communication online has led to an increase in cyberbullies. One-third of internet users complain of having been bullied, and 69% admit to abusive online actions.
It’s clear that bullying online is an epidemic and that we must do something about it as fast as possible. But what can we do? To start off with, we must recognize bullying.
Recognizing Cyber Bullying
Cyber bullying can come in many forms. Here are just a few to consider:
- Abusive emails or text messages
- Threatening or hurtful posts on social media
- Excluding the victim online
- Making fun of the victim online
- Threatening to reveal intimate photos
- Making inappropriate comments on someone’s page or photos.
How to Keep Children Safe
Being bullied as an adult is bad enough. For a child, it can be devastating. Here are some ideas for keeping children safe online:
- Speak to the child and warn them of the dangers
- Teach them about good online security practices, like not sharing passwords
- Ensure that they only give their contact details to people that they trust
- Check the child’s privacy settings and ensure they’re high
- Consider befriending them on social media
- Make it a rule for children to only friend people that they know in real life.
What if a Child is Bullied Online?
This is a distressing moment for any parent. The immediate response is to confront the bully. This seldom works and could cause the situation to escalate. Should that happen, the child will hide bullying events in the future.
- Speak to the child openly and honestly
- Remind the child that it’s not their fault – bullies have problems of their own and can’t deal with them
- Teach the child to ignore the bullying
- Block the bully
- Do keep screenshots of any incidents in case the matter escalates
- Speak to the internet service provider or cell phone provider to block messages
- Report the incident to the platform.
When to Get The Police Involved
This should always be a last resort, but sometimes the police must be involved. If the bully threatens physical harm, sends inappropriate material, or moves from the cyber realm to the real one, it’s time to call the police.
Contact the School
Set up a meeting with the principal in cases where the bullies attend the same school as the victim. Before setting up the meeting, be prepared with the following:
- Provide the details including places, sites, names, and dates
- Give examples of the behavior
- Find out what the school will do
- Follow up to ensure that the school did as it said it would.
Online bullying presents a unique set of challenges. The victims are not only reluctant to come forward, but may not know who’s tormenting them. Providing guidance and proper support is the best way to help the victims of these attacks.