Cyberbullying: What You Should Know
Monday, October 28th, 2019
Doxing. Sockpuppet. Outing. Trolling. Flaming. Are you familiar with these terms? For example, a sockpuppet is a false online identity used by someone to sway or influence opinion about a person or organization, often negatively. Often, people create multiple sockpuppets so they can comment multiple times about a person or topic. It’s important to be informed about cyberbullying in your role at an organization that works with children or youth.
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place via cell phones, computers, tablets and other digital devices. It is harmful, mean and often false. It can occur through instant message, text, email, apps, social media, chats or forums, gaming or any other areas where people can view, participate or share content.
According to StopBullying.gov, cyberbullying has unique concerns because it can be:
- Persistent. Digital devices offer an ability to immediately and continuously communicate 24 hours a day, so it can be difficult for children or youth experiencing cyberbullying to find relief.
- Permanent. Most information communicated electronically is permanent and public, if not reported and removed. A negative online reputation, including for those who bully, can impact college admissions, employment and other areas of life.
- Hard to notice. Because teachers, volunteers and parents may not overhear or see cyberbullying taking place, it is harder to recognize.
Because of these challenges, cyberbullying is more difficult to spot and stop than physical bullying. However, StopBullying.gov does have recommendations for those in organizations who are in positions to notice behavior in group settings. Here are some things you can do:
- If you think a child or youth is being cyberbullied, speak to them privately about it. They may also have proof on their digital devices.
- Speak to a parent about any concerns you have.
- To understand children’s digital behavior and how it relates to cyberbullying, increase your own digital awareness.
- Develop activities that encourage self-reflection, asking children to identify and express what they think and feel, and to consider the thoughts and feelings of others.
- Model, reinforce and reward positive behavior toward others.
- Encourage peer involvement in prevention strategies.
Learn more about all types of bullying at StopBullying.gov. CongregationU also offers “Cyberbullying,” a 30-minute online course about cyberbullying specifically in churches and faith-based organizations.