Cyberbullying, a form of traditional bullying, has become increasingly common among adolescences and younger generations. As modern technology and social media continue to grow and evolve, new opportunities for cyberbullies arise.
Statistics show that nearly one in four college students have reported being a victim of a cyberbullying attack, with most common methods being social media networks, texting, email and instant messaging.
By definition, cyberbullying is “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.” And according to the Cyberbullying Research Center, these four elements must be present for the attack to be classified as cyberbullying:
- Willful Behavior: It must be deliberate,not accidental.
- Repetitive Nature:Bullying happens multiple times, as opposed to one isolated incident.
- Harmful Action:The victim of cyberbullying should believe that the intent was to inflict harm.
- Digital Device: The behavior takes place via computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices, which differentiates cyberbullying from traditional bullying.
Unlike other types of bullying on campus, with cyberbullying, there is often no blatant, visible action, as most of the behavior takes place behind a screen and is emotional, not physical, in nature. Because of this, identifying cyberbullying attacks or online harassment directed toward yourself or others can be difficult.
Examples of cyberbullying may include:
- Cyber stalking: Sending harassing or aggressive messages to inflict fright or worry of safety
- Degradation and humiliation: Spreading rumors or hearsay to impose embarrassment or harm
- Impersonation: Using a false identity or profile to torment or damage reputations
- Flaming: Making vulgar and abusive comments to start an argument or fight
- Password theft: Gaining access to passwords to lock victims out of their sites, and sometimes to cyberbully others
- Website creation: Creating websites to hostinsultingmessages to torment or embarrass someone
- Photos and images: Uploading or sending private or embarrassingimages, sometimes fake or altered
- PC attacks: Sending viruses, spyware and other malware to attack a person’s computer
- Proxy attacks: Accessing confidential information by installing a proxy to collect information about a victim with harmful intent
Anti-Cyberbullying Strategies for Students
To prevent cyberbullying, and bullying on campus in general, students use a variety of tools and strategies to better identify and act upon threats. If you or someone you know is a victim of a cyberbullying attack, consider implementing one or all of the following methods to prevent continued threats for your self or others.
1. Tell Someone
Whether it’s a roommate, professor or the police, victims of bullying need to speak up. Because many cyberbullying attacks are targeted and not seen by others, these attacks can go unnoticed by others. If you feel as though someone is threatening, harassing or mocking you over text, social media, email or other digital medium, don’t hesitate to tell someone you trust.
2. Don’t Retaliate
Often, cyberbullies thrive off the attention and frustration they receive from their victims. Instead of responding with aggressive or threatening messages, disregard cyberbullying attempts by deleting or ignoring these messages.
3. Store Information
Collect information surrounding the cyberbullying attempt or issue, including text messages, social media posts, date and time, and any other applicable information. In the event that it becomes part of an investigation or larger, ongoing issue, this information can be helpful to identify and apprehend the instigator.
4. Make Timely Reports
Whether you report the person on social media or call your phone company to block a number, the method used by cyberbullies is always a good starting point. If the initiator doesn’t have access to you via text messages or social media outlets, he or she may decide to abandon cyberbullying.
5. Seek Counseling
Most college campuses offer counseling resources to students who are victims of bullying on campus. Because they often more likely to develop mental health issues from the traumatic experience, students should continue to talk with professionals to ensure they properly recover.
For more information on cyberbullying prevention strategies, check out Campus Answers’ bullying on campus prevention training.The course covers typical bullying actions, ways to identify bullying, how to respond to bullies and proactive measures to prevent bullying before it occurs.