There is a new way people can torment you that didn’t exist when your parents were growing up. It’s called cyberbullying. People can say terrible things about you and post photos on the internet and over their cellphones. People can torment you 24/7 using social media, so it doesn’t end when you get out of school or work.
You have probably heard stories of students who suffered so terribly from cyberbullying that they ended up taking their own lives in order to escape the misery.
First, it’s important to realize that some types of cyberbullying are true crimes, and you should turn to the authorities or police if someone does these things to you. If they are making serious threats against you and you think they may carry them out, tell the police. Adult sexual predators make believe they are kids and try to get you to meet with them. You should never arrange to meet people that found you over the internet unless you have confirmed who they are and what you are doing with a responsible adult, like a parent. If people try to swindle you out of money, report them. If people write things about you that cause you to be kicked out of school or fired from your job, they have committed crimes, and you should do what you can to correct what they have done to you.
Many Internet sites make it possible to get cyberbullying posts removed. So, you should always check to see if you can get stuff about you deleted.
However, if the things people are doing to you only hurt your feelings or make other kids laugh at you, you can probably handle the situation by yourself, the same way we are teaching you to handle ordinary bullying.
The most important thing to realize is that if people who are cyberbullying you know that it bothers you, they will keep on doing it. You need to make it very obvious that you are not upset.
How can you stop yourself from getting upset?
The first step is to realize that people don’t believe everything that’s on the internet. If you see that someone has written something nasty about somebody else, do you believe it? Of course not. Stop worrying that people will believe nasty stuff about you.
Second, you don’t have to respond to every post about you or every phone message. You can simply ignore it. People who are trying to annoy you with their postings will soon go on to someone else. And don’t worry if the stuff they wrote stays on the internet. So much new material is added every day that there isn’t too much of a chance it will get seen.
If people tell you about the nasty stuff they saw about you, make it clear you see it as childish and that it doesn’t concern you. If someone asks you if it’s true, the best way to respond is by asking them, “Do you believe it?” If they say “No,” say “good.” If they say “yes,” say, “You can believe it if you want to.” You come out looking like a winner.
You can also respond by treating it like a joke. And the truth is, very often people intend for the posting to be a joke, but we fall into the trap of getting upset. For instance, if someone posts a picture of your face on top of a giraffe body, you can comment, “Hey, check this out! This is hilarious.”
Sometimes people post nasty stuff about you because they are mad at you. If so, you can ask them if they are mad at you. If they say “yes,” then ask them about it and see if you can resolve the matter. But do it without getting angry. You need to realize that no one is perfect. Sometimes we hurt people and then they want to get back at us. There is nothing wrong with apologizing if you discover you hurt someone.
Let’s say they post something really bad about you that happens to be true and everyone knows it or they can easily check that it’s true. Instead of getting defensive about it or trying to deny it, in which case you will look like a liar, just acknowledge it maturely. Let’s say you were at a party and people took pictures of you doing something embarrassing or humiliating and they post it, if you can’t get the photos deleted, you can comment, “Yeah, I can’t believe I did such a stupid thing. I’ll never do that again.” Anyone who reads your comment will respect you for taking such a mature attitude.
So please, don’t let cyberbullying get you down. Ignore it or respond maturely, and it will probably fizzle out and go away.
Download your Responding to Cyberbullying Checklist