Saturday, 22 March 2014

CYBER-BULLYING: WHAT IT IS & WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT...

Technology is moving at the speed of light. Many of today's teens have smartphones and laptops, and with these come a whole raft of social networking sites - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, MSN, dozens of chatrooms and apps appealing directly at young people. They're fun, they're cool, and everyone uses them - it can feel that way, anyhow. The peer pressure to take part is strong. You don't want to be left out, laughed at, excluded. Sometimes you even make new friends... but what if things go wrong? If your friends turn on you and start to bully you? If people you don't like use the site to torment you, posting cruel, hurtful comments for all to see? Cyber-bullying is an especially vicious form of bullying, and one that can be very hard to tackle. We asked for your experiences...

Karen says:
I was being bullied at school - it had been going on for years. Facebook was one place I could get away from it, until the bullies started commenting, nasty, spiteful comments insulting my family and friends. Next came messages threatening me, so I couldn't sleep at night, and they even made group chats about me so they could discuss what they didn't like about me. I felt worthless. I told someone and the bullies said they felt terrible, but they didn't mean it, and they didn't stop. I blocked them, but they got my phone number and started sending abusive texts. Sometimes there was a text every few seconds... you feel like it's driving you nuts. In the end, my friends told a teacher who asked me to write down everything that happened; this helped, as by then I couldn't talk about it without crying. She is helping me to sort things out now. If anyone out there is cyber-bullying, please don't. Your cruel words could be the last straw to someone who is having a hard time already. Being bullied is the worst thing ever, and not something I will ever be able to forget.

Louise says:
There were a group of girls at my school who were very popular. I was a tomboy, and kept myself to myself, but this group didn't seem to like that and began picking on me. I tried ignoring them but they stepped things up and began sending me nasty messages through Facebook, sometimes sending really awful threats. My friend suggested I block them so I did, but they kept making fake accounts to send mean stuff to me - I tried to ignore it, but it went on and on. I was really upset. I didn't want to go out any more, didn't want to go to school... even the internet wasn't safe. One Monday I found out they'd made a page just to say mean and embarrassing stuff about me. Everyone was laughing and all I could do was cry. My best friend came with me to tell a teacher, and told them everything the girls had been doing. The teacher took it very seriously and soon the page was removed, the bullies stopped sending stuff and I was able to go on with my life. If you're in a similar situation, get help... you can't manage something like this alone.

Sara says:
For me, the bullying started when I admitted I was gay. I had ask.fm and people began posting the crudest and most awful stuff. They told me I was disgusting and even that they hoped I'd get cancer. It was vile. I deleted the ask.fm app and reported some of the people concerned to my pupil support teacher, which definitely helped, but at the time I felt really horrible - upset and totally alone.
Cerys says:
I was cyber bullied when I was nine. A girl called Jo got annoyed because I didn't invite her to my birthday party. I had her on MSN and Windows Live Messenger - back then, everyone just added everyone - I thought nothing of it, but then the messages began, even on the day of the party itself. It was supposed to be a happy day and it was far from it. The messages kept coming, and to make matters worse she started emailing my mum with all kinds of nasty stuff too. In the end I blocked her email - so did my mum. Jo had sent emails using her mum's email address to make it seem like it wasn't her, but blocking stopped it. I've had no contact with her since we left primary three years ago... thank goodness.

Jayde says:
I was cyber-bullied. It started off with the girl just making mean comments, saying I couldn't do my hair or make-up properly, and that I was ugly. It was really upsetting. It seemed to tail off and then six weeks later it began again... I'd had enough, and I made an official complaint. I had to fill in some forms and after a while I had a message from the bully saying she was sorry and wanted to be friends.




What can YOU do about cyber-bullying? 
*Try to avoid apps like ask.fm as the the anonymous format attracts bullies and trolls. Trust me, you can live without it.
*Have strong security settings on your page - if in doubt, as an adult to help you set these.
*Never post pictures you're not sure about; a photo can go viral faster than you'd think. Only post images you would happy for anyone to see.
*Similarly, don't post unkind or angry words online - the internet is not the place for it, and a public row can snowball into something much more serious.
*Never share personal details, phone numbers, addresses etc online.
*On your mobile, or on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, only add people you know and like. Having 500 'friends' or followers means nothing if those people aren't actually friends... delete or block anyone who posts things which upset you or wind you up.
* Delete 'frape' posts and threads which are bullying or offensive, but take a screenshot picture as evidence that it happened in case you need to prove it.
*If you are being stalked, trolled or bullied via a social network, tell a trusted adult and get their help to report it. Cyber-bullying can be stopped, but only of you report it.
*Don't be tempted to take part in 'rate for looks' games online; someone could be very hurt by it.
*Don't post cruel, thoughtless or personal comments about others, even if they're not your favourite person... and don't join in with internet hate games. Think about how the person on the receiving end might feel.
*If you are being bullied, call ChildLine on 0800 1111 and tell a teacher, a parent, possibly the police. And REPORT cyber-bullying to the admin of the site where it is taking place or to your mobile network provider.

Have YOU been cyber-bullied? Or do YOU have any advice for those who have? POST BELOW to share your thoughts...

7 comments:

  1. ALL CYBER BULLIES ARE .....

    NOT HUMAN!! THEY ARE MEAN U CYBER BULLIES HAVE GOT TO STOP!!!!:(

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    1. Sadly the are all too human, Anon. I understand your anger and agree... this must be stopped. It's never, ever acceptable. xxx

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  2. Tell someone if you are being cyberbullied, its the best way to deal with it:)

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  3. There was a time where I owned a Moshi Monster and I couldn't log in because the password had been hacked. I had to make a new account and then add the old account through the MM system. Since my account was set up on one of my friend's email, the hacker threatened her and said he would hack her email if she changed my password again. So we just left the account and I got used to my new one. I still feel sad when I think about little Debbyellow.

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  4. Check out this pretty interesting app called Stopit. This is like 2.99 and helps when a young person is in crisis. I think they have it for droids and apple. Sets upbin seconds and no built in ad garbage

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  5. Cyber bullying is wrong, and awful, and horrible and I am totally against it. Everything should be done to stop people getting hurt. But keep in mind that sometimes the bully has a reason for doing these things. They shouldn't be doing it, but bullies often have had a hard time at home, or they have been bullied themselves, and they think that bullying is the only way to make them feel better about themselves. This is not true, and if you know who the bully is, stop them, but also, if you can, try to be nice to them, and if you find out that they are having difficulty, try to help them. They may turn out to be nice people after all. If you are being bullied, TELL SOMEONE!

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  6. Really interesting article, Cathy. I've bookmarked it as research for something I'm working on. You do such good work for your readers. No wonder they love you. Mo x

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