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How to Handle Cyberbullying


Cyberbullying is the repeated use of information technology to deliberately harass, threaten, or intimidate others. Cyberbullying can take many forms, and a single incident may fit into several categories. The following are the most common types of cyberbullying:

Harassing someone by repeatedly sending him or her insulting or threatening messages.

Denigrating someone by sending or posting deliberate lies about him or her to intentionally damage the person’s reputation and friendships.

Participating in an online fight using electronic messages that are deliberately insulting and vulgar. Flaming can occur in either a private or public online group.

Distributing confidential, private, or embarrassing information online. For example, a cyberbully may forward email messages or images meant for private viewing.

Follow these tips if you or your children are being cyberbullied:

Don’t add fuel to the fire. Do not respond if someone sends you or your children a threatening message. If the behavior continues, ask the person to stop, but only once. Then block the person from contacting you or your family.

Preserve the evidence. Save every message from the cyberbully as evidence that you or your children are being harassed. Also keep your message requesting the person to stop.

Contact the appropriate authorities. If the harassment was by email, notify the online service provider. If it took the place in a chat room, tell the organization that runs the server. Instant messaging and similar services all have harassment policies and provide information about what to do and who to contact if you’re having problems with another user.

You may need to contact the police if the cyberbullying involves dangerous criminal acts, such as:

  • Threats of violence.
  • Child pornography and sexually explicit messages or photos.
  • Invasion of privacy such as taking a picture of you or your children where privacy would be expected.
  • Harassment, stalking, and hate crimes.
  • Obscene phone calls and text messages.
  • Extortion.