How to deal with cyber bullying as a child or teen

Understand cyberbullying to help your teen work through it.

Posted November 21, 2017

How to deal with cyber bullying as a child or teen

A 15-year-old girl is asked to share a topless photo on Snap. Her gut instinct tells her that she shouldn’t send the picture. Her two close friends tell her to ignore the request. But the request keeps coming, and she likes the boy making the request. Added to that, another group of girls encourages her to send it. They make it sound like this is the new normal for teen dating. She loses sleep over it for several nights. She talks about it obsessively with her friends, to the point where they avoid her at lunch to avoid the conversation.

In the end, she doesn’t send the picture. She sends a heartfelt message about how much she likes him but that she doesn’t want to send that kind of picture. The boy takes a screenshot of the message and uses it to torment her for weeks to come on Snapchat, Instagram, and group text. The girls who encouraged her to send the photo get in on the tormenting. The stress of the situation causes migraines, stomachaches, and missed days of school. Not to mention, she’s completely socially isolated.

With the near constant use of technology among teens and even younger children, many parents worry about cyberbullying. Headlines about cyberbullying are overwhelming at best and leave parents feeling helpless. Can cyberbullying be prevented in this online world?

According to the latest statistics compiled by StopBullying.gov, 9 percent of students in grades 6 to 12 experienced cyberbullying, and 15 percent of high school students experienced cyberbullying. 55.2 percent of LGBTQ students experienced cyberbullying.

Understanding cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over electronic devices, such as phones, tablets, or computers. It can occur via SMS (text messaging apps), email, social media, instant message, chat forums, or even gaming systems. Cyberbullying can include the following:

  • Sending, sharing, or posting harmful, negative, or false information or content about someone
  • Sharing photos or screenshots that can be damaging or used to humiliate or embarrass someone
  • Sharing personal information to humiliate someone or damage someone’s reputation

Due to the public nature of social media and the ability to share digital information swiftly across multiple channels, cyberbullying can reach far and wide. Damaging photos and content can easily be shared from school-to-school and across state lines before a teen seeks help. Cyberbullying is particularly difficult to manage because most things posted online are permanent (or difficult to remove) and it’s hard to recognize. Teachers and parents can’t see cyberbullying as it occurs the way they can other forms of bullying.

The scope of cyberbullying

Cyberbullying can happen to any child or teen using digital devices to communicate at any time. Recent data compiled by Websitebuilderexpert.com showed the “friendliest” to “meanest” states when it comes to online bullying. Despite legislation that classifies cyberbullying as a crime, Nevada ranked as the state with the highest rates of cyberbullying.

New Hampshire, on the other hand, ranked as the friendliest state with the lowest percentage of hostile comments and the fifth lowest percentage of people reporting online harassment.

Anyone using digital devices to communicate, share content, or connect with others can experience cyberbullying. The best thing parents can do for teens immersed in a digital world is engage in frequent conversations and talk openly and honestly about expectations and what to do if cyberbullying does occur.

How to deal with cyberbullying

Research shows that cyberbullying on social media is linked to depression in teens. It’s essential that parents remain engaged with their teens and talk about ways to seek help.

  • Don’t judge or fix: Teens need parents to listen without judgment. They also don’t want their parents to start calling other parents or the school right away. The best first step is to listen and ask follow up questions to understand the scope of the cyberbullying. Unconditional support is key. If you listen, empathize, and work together, your teen will continue to seek your help.
  • Document everything: Take screenshots of any cyberbullying found on devices and send them to your phone. Document your conversations as well. Rehashing cyberbullying with school personnel and other authorities can be anxiety producing. Stories might lack details or seem different when teens are under pressure. Documenting your conversations will help you help your teen communicate what happened.
  • Identify a safe person at school: Teens need a touchstone at school – someone they can go to when overwhelmed by the real-life fallout of cyberbullying or to seek help in the moment.
  • Respond thoughtfully: Resist the urge to blast out your concerns on your own social media channels. This won’t help your teen and might make it worse.
  • Work together to formulate a plan: Your teen needs help, but your teen also needs the autonomy to use problem-solving skills that work for her him. Brainstorm possible solutions, including the best point person at the school (this might a counselor or specific member of the administration), and work together.
  • Use the tools within the apps: Chances are your teen knows how to block users and protect passwords, but it can’t hurt to review privacy settings, scroll through friend lists to identify potential fake accounts and report fake accounts, harassing comments, or inappropriate photos.
  • Talk about upstanders: Discuss the importance of reporting bullying or inappropriate content even if it doesn’t directly impact your teen, leaving positive comments when others are leaving negative ones, and reaching out to kids being victimized online. When teens are empowered to help other teens, they learn that they have the power to combat online negativity by sprinkling kindness and support.

Cyberbullying can leave lasting effects, including depression and anxiety. If you suspect that your teen is the victim of cyberbullying, talk to your teen and make a plan to get help.

US Department of Health and Human Services,”Facts About Bullying”, retrieved from Stopbullying.gov.

Website Builder Expert, “Which US State is the Biggest Cyberbully?”, November 20, 2017.

Pappas, Stephanie, “Cyberbullying on Social Media Linked to Teen Depression,” Live Science, June 22, 2015.

How to deal with cyber bullying as a child or teen

Cyberbullying has been getting more and more attention in the media and in schools, and is a prevalent issue within our society. As a counselor who works with children and adolescents, I often come across clients experiencing issues that result from cyberbullying. If you’re a parent or work with teens or children, it’s important to be educated about cyberbullying, its effects, and how to stop it.

What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is the use of digital devices, such as phones, computers, tablets, and video game systems, to bully others. Cyberbullies send messages to their victims using SMS, text messages, apps, social media, and gaming systems. Statistics show that cyberbullying is a big problem in the United States. In fact, more than one in three young people report being the victim of cyberbullying. Part of why this issue is so prevalent is that bullies can remain anonymous while targeting their victims. This allows them to write things they might not ordinarily say in person and can often make it difficult to catch them.

What are the Effects of Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying can have devastating consequences, including low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression; it can even lead to suicide. Part of why it has such an effect on its victims is that they have no escape. These adolescents and young adults are often verbally and physically bullied at school, and then come home to more bullying when they are using their digital devices.

What Can Parents Do About Cyberbullying?

Unfortunately, statistics show that children and young adults who are the victims of cyberbullying are not likely to tell their parents about it. Parents should monitor their children’s social media accounts for signs that they are either being bullied, or are bullying others. They should also speak with their children about cyberbullying and let them know they can confide in them if they are being bullied. Parents may want to consider developing a digital device contract that outlines to children how to use their phones, tablets, and computers responsibly. This contract should also describe consequences for not following these rules.

Parents who know that their children are being cyberbullied should help them gain access to counseling. A therapist can help address the low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression that often come about as a result. If you are interested in counseling services for your child, check out our locations to find a program near you, or contact our admissions department for assistance.

Bullying is when someone is picked on by a person or group. Bullies might make fun of people who they think don’t fit in.

Bullies might make fun of others for many things, including:

  • appearance (how someone looks)
  • behavior (how someone acts)
  • race or religion
  • social status (whether someone is popular) (like being gay, lesbian, or transgender)

Bullying can come in different types:

  • Physical bullying is when bullies hurt their targets physically. This might be shoving, tripping, punching, or hitting. Any form of touching that a person does not want can be bullying and possible sexual assault.
  • Verbal bullying is taunting or teasing someone.
  • Psychological bullying is gossiping about or excluding people to make them feel bad about themselves. is when bullies use the internet and social media and say things that they might not say in person. This can include sending mean texts, posting insults about someone on Twitter, or making rude comments on their Instagram pictures. Cyberbullies also might post personal information, pictures, or videos designed to hurt or embarrass someone else.

What Are the Effects of Bullying?

Bullies often pick on people over and over again. This can make teens:

  • feel afraid, stressed, depressed, or anxious
  • have thoughts about suicide or hurting themselves
  • have trouble with their schoolwork
  • have problems with mood, energy level, sleep, and appetite

What Kind of People Are Bullies?

Both guys and girls can be bullies. Bullies may be:

  • outgoing and aggressive. This kind of bully might make fun of you to your face or physically hurt you.
  • quiet and sneaky. This kind of bully might try to manipulate in secret. They might anonymously start a damaging rumor just to see what happens.
  • friendly and fake. This kind of bully might pretend to be your friend so that you tell them things, but then do hurtful things behind your back.

Many bullies are a lot alike. They:

  • like to be in control of others
  • are focused on themselves
  • have poor social skills and have a hard time getting along with people
  • might not care about people, or lack empathy
  • are often insecure and bully others to make themselves feel better

Some bullies don’t understand normal social emotions like guilt, empathy, compassion, or remorse. These people need help from a mental health professional like a counselor, social worker, psychiatrist, or psychologist.

What Can I Do?

There are many things that you can do if you’re being bullied or know someone who is. You can:

Tell a trusted adult. Adults in positions of authority, like parents, teachers, or coaches, often can deal with bullying without the bully ever learning how they found out about it.

Ignore the bully and walk away. Bullies like getting a reaction. If you walk away or ignore them, you’re telling them that you don’t care.

Walk tall and hold your head high. Using this type of body language sends a message that you’re not vulnerable.

Don’t get physical. You’re more likely to be hurt and get into trouble if you try to fight a bully. Work out your anger in another way, such as exercising or writing it down (make sure you delete or tear up any emails, posts, letters, or notes you write in anger).

Try to talk to the bully. Try to point out that his or her behavior is serious and harmful. This can work well if you notice that a member of your own group has started to pick on or shun another member.

Practice confidence. Practice ways to respond to the bully verbally or through your behavior. Practice feeling good about yourself (even if you have to fake it at first).

Talk about it. It may help to talk to a guidance counselor, teacher, or friend — anyone who can give you the support you need. Talking can be a good outlet for the fears and frustrations that can build when you’re being bullied.

Find your (true) friends. If you’ve been bullied with rumors or gossip, tell your friends so that they can help you feel safe and secure. Avoid being alone, especially when the bullying is happening a lot.

Stand up for friends and others you see being bullied. Your actions help the victim feel supported and may stop the bullying.

Join your school’s bullying or violence prevention programs. Peer mediation is another way you may be able to work things out with a bully. If your school doesn’t have these programs, start one of your own.

What If I’m the Bully?

Some people bully to deal with their own feelings of stress, anger, or frustration. Bullies might also have been bullied and now want to show their power by bullying someone else.

If you have bullied someone:

  • Try talking to a trusted adult to talk about why you have become a bully. Ask them for some advice on how you could change.
  • Try thinking of how the person being bullied feels. Imagine how you would feel if you were the target.

Even though people are different, it’s important to treat everyone with respect.

Facts about Cyberbullying tell you about an act of harassing or harming other people using the internet or technology networks. Cyberbullying is used to make other hate the bullied person by posting negative gossip or rumor about him or her in the internet. It is used to harass and humiliate the victim through the publishing materials. Let’s find other interesting facts about Cyberbullying below:

Facts about Cyberbullying 1: Cyberbullying and teenagers

Cyberbullying is not a new issue today. It is very common to spot Cyberbullying among the teenagers due to the increased usage of technology. People concern more with Cyberbullying because it may lead into suicide. One of the notable cases of Cyberbullying is the suicide of Tyler Clementi.

Facts about Cyberbullying 2: the technology

Cyberbullying can be conducted using different platforms of technology. The teens can spread the gossip or rumor through mobile technology and internet service.

How to deal with cyber bullying as a child or teen

Facts about Cyberbullying 3: cyberstalking

Sometimes the person who intends to do Cyberbullying performs cyberstalking. He or she tries to develop the strategy to bully or harass the victim by using a planned tactic.

Facts about Cyberbullying 4: the form of Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying can be conducted in various ways. The victim can be humiliated, falsely discredited, and intimidated. It will be conducted repeatedly to make the victim depressed and frustrated.

How to deal with cyber bullying as a child or teen

Facts about Cyberbullying

Facts about Cyberbullying 5: the victim

Cyberbullying target is not always known. It may be anonymous for it can be used to harass the people online.

Facts about Cyberbullying 6: Cyberbullying and adult

If you think Cyberbullying only occurs on teens and children, you are wrong. The adults also conduct it. However, the abuse conducted by adults to other adults is called cyber harassment or cyberstalking.

Facts about Cyberbullying 7: cyberstalkers’ tactics

The intention of cyberstalker is to intimidate the safety, reputation, income and employment of the target. The cyberstalkers will post it on the online information sites, social media and public forums so that all people know it. Get facts about computer programming here.

Facts about Cyberbullying 8: the victim and cyberstalking

The online participation of the victim will be affected when someone tries to harass and threaten him or her in public forum. The people will be against the victim since his or her reputation will be damaged by the stalkers.

How to deal with cyber bullying as a child or teen

Facts about Cyberbullying 9: the forms of cyberstalking

There are several activities conducted by cyberstalkers to harass the victims. They can gather personal information, solicitation for sex, identity theft and give false accusations. Find facts about cyber safety here.

Facts about Cyberbullying 10: jail

The people who conduct Cyberbullying break the law and can stay in jail.

Do you want to comment on facts about Cyberbullying?

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Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a psychotherapist, international bestselling author and host of the The Verywell Mind Podcast.

Nothing is more unsettling than learning that your child is a bully. In fact, no parent wants to get a call from the school or from another parent and hear that their child has been bullying other kids. But the fact is, a lot of kids bully others. Even the most well-mannered kids can engage in bullying. So do not be shocked if you get that call.

If you do learn that your child is bullying others, try not to dwell in your surprise. Instead, move forward and take action. Remember, there are a variety of reasons why kids bully.

Possible Reasons for Bullying

Sometimes bullying is the product of peer pressure or a sense of entitlement. Other times, it is a reaction to having been a victim of bullying. And other times, the bullying results from your child’s inability to control impulses or manage anger.

Regardless of the reason behind your child’s actions, you have to discipline your child for their poor choices. After all, the bullying behaviors will not end unless your child takes responsibility for their actions, admits their mistakes, and learns how to change their behavior. Here are 10 ways to address your child’s bullying behavior.

Address the Bullying Immediately

Once you learn that your child has bullied another child, it is imperative that you talk with them right away. Doing so demonstrates not only that you aware of the situation, but also that bullying is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

Although you do not have to list the consequences immediately, you do need to talk to your child about their actions. Be sure to stay calm, avoid any shameful language, and show your concern—but make it clear they will be disciplined for their choices.

Determine the Root Cause

In order to develop the correct plan of discipline for your child, you need to find out why your child chose to bully another child and create a conversation that encourages kids to talk more openly. For example, if your child is a bully-victim, you will need to deal with their bullying but also help them cope with the bullying they have endured.

Meanwhile, if your child bullied other kids in an attempt to be popular or be accepted as part of a clique, then you will need to address the importance of healthy friendships and resisting peer pressure. But remember, do not give your child an excuse for their behavior. Instead, this information will give you an idea of how to address their poor choices and discipline them appropriately.

Discuss Bullying as a Choice

Your child needs to recognize that no matter the reason behind their bullying behavior, bullying was a choice they made. And they are responsible for their actions. Be sure that your child owns their choice and accepts responsibility.

Sometimes kids refuse to take responsibility. Do not let this attitude slide. Continue discussing the situation until your child can communicate that they understand their responsibility.

Develop Logical Consequences

We have all heard the statement, “the punishment should fit the crime.” This is especially true when it comes to discipline for bullying. If, for example, your child was using their computer or cell phone to cyberbully others, then a logical consequence would be a loss of computer privileges and cell phone use.

Likewise, if your child used their status on the cheerleading squad to bully others because they are part of a clique, then they should lose that status for a period of time. You might choose to “suspend” them from a game or two or not allow them to spend time with the friends who participated in the bullying.

Just remember that every bullying situation is different and as a result, the consequences will be different.

Take Away Privileges

Losing privileges is a popular form of discipline for teens and is usually very effective. For example, you can take away electronics, the use of the family car, the privilege of attending parties or special events, social media use, or even the freedom to stay home alone. The list is endless.

The point is to demonstrate that bullying behavior has consequences and will not be tolerated. Just be sure that once you take something away, you do not give in later. Also, be clear on the length of time that the privilege will be revoked.

Support the School’s Disciplinary Plan

Although supporting the school can be very difficult for parents, it is an extremely important step. When you partner with the school and support the plan they are implementing, you are ensuring your children to learn a valuable life lesson.

It also shows them that there are consequences for bad choices and Mom or Dad will not (and in some cases, cannot) rescue them. The worst decision you could make is to enable their bad decisions by attempting to rescue them from the pain of consequences.

Teach Your Child New Skills

Pay attention to the details of your child’s bullying behavior. Are there skills your child is lacking that may prevent future bullying incidents like anger management and impulse control? Or, is your child bullying to fit in or to get attention?

If so, this could be a self-esteem issue. Help your child see their value and worth outside of what peers have to say. And if bullying is related to cliques, help your child learn to identify and develop healthy friendships.

Avoid Shaming Your Child

More recently, parents have started shaming their kids as a way of disciplining them. For instance, they make their child wear a sign and stand on a street corner. Or, they take an embarrassing picture of their child and post it on social media with a lengthy explanation of their child’s transgressions.

While these actions have attracted media attention, they are not useful discipline strategies. Instead, kids learn that it is acceptable to embarrass and humiliate others. Additionally, shaming is a form of bullying and should not be used to discipline.

Concentrate on Instilling Empathy

Talk about the consequences of bullying. And be sure your child takes the time to really think about how they would feel if they were the one being bullied. When kids learn to see things from a different perspective, they are less likely to bully again in the future. In fact, raising your child’s emotional intelligence and instilling empathy goes a long way in preventing bullying.

Prevent Future Bullying

Sometimes when bullying is caught early and addressed appropriately, it usually won’t happen again. But do not automatically assume this is the case. Instead, monitor your child’s behavior and continue to discipline them if necessary. If given the right skill set, most kids who bully others can change. It just takes some time.

Bullying stops us from being who we want to be, and prevents us from expressing ourselves freely, and might even make us feel unsafe. If you are bullied, say something! If you are bullying, it’s not cool!

I might be being bullied

  • SPEAK UP: If you feel uncomfortable with the comments or actions of someone… tell someone! It is better to let a trusted adult know, than to let the problem continue.
  • Get familiar with what bullying is and what it is not. If you recognize any of the descriptions, you should stay calm, stay respectful, and tell an adult as soon as possible.
  • If you feel like you are at risk of harming yourself or others get help now!

Someone is bullying me online or via text message

  • Remember, bullying does not only happen at school. It can happen anywhere, including through texting, the internet and social media.
  • Learn more about cyberbullying and how to respond if it is happening to you.

I don’t get bullied, but my friend does

  • Learn how you can be more than a bystander.

I want to contribute to anti-bullying initiatives in my school or community

The Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention invite you to take action to make a difference in your community! By following the steps in this youth engagement toolkit, you can join other youth leaders across the country and the Federal Partners to organize a bullying prevention social and educational event.

People Make Mistakes

People make mistakes. They may say or do things without understanding the impact on others. Children and teens are in a process of developing social and emotional skills and can make mistakes sometimes. It is normal and ok to disagree with other people’s ideas or actions, but bullying people you disagree with is not ok.

“Cancel Culture”

In our culture, some people have decided to “cancel” someone when they don’t like what that person did or said. “Canceling” might simply mean blocking and unfollowing someone on social media, or include “calling out” someone by publicly shaming them. Children and teens may “cancel” peers by excluding them from activities, giving them the “silent treatment”, or publicly shaming or humiliating them in front of others or online.

Excluding or publicly shaming someone are forms of bullying. Posting negative comments about someone or humiliating them online are forms of cyberbullying. “Canceling” people you disagree with does not help the person doing the “canceling” and the person who is being “cancelled.” There are other more positive ways to interact with someone who has done something that upsets or impacts you.

As social media becomes the preferred method of communication for teens, there also is a noticeable increase in the number of cyberbullying cases reported. And there are probably even more that go unreported. Consequently, it is vital that parents know how to respond to cyberbullying incidents.

While every situation is slightly different, it helps to have some general guidelines on how to handle cyberbullying, and more importantly, get your child on a path to overcoming the bullying.

Tips for Responding to Bullies Online

Here are the top things you and your child should do when your teen is confronted with cyberbullying.

Don’t Respond

Instruct your child that the best way to deal with cyberbullying is to ignore the posts, comments, texts, and calls. Although it is hard to refrain from responding to something untrue, it is better to stop and report the incident to a parent or trusted adult instead. Stress to your children that no matter how much the words hurt them, they should not post a response.

Cyberbullies are looking for a reaction. Be sure your kids know not to give them one.The issue is more likely to fade away if there is no response from the target. Remember, responding only allows the situation to escalate.

Keep Copies of All the Cyberbullying

Save all messages, comments, and posts as evidence. This includes emails, blog posts, social media posts, tweets, text messages, and so on. Although your child’s first reaction may be to delete everything, remind them that without evidence, you have no proof of the cyberbullying. After the evidence is gathered and you have talked to the school and the police, you should be able to delete comments.

It is important to note that if the posts involve sexual bullying that contain nudity, these should be deleted. Keeping or printing pictures of an underage child constitutes possession of child pornography and could result in legal action against you and your child. Report the incident immediately and allow the police to keep the proof. Do not maintain copies of any sexual posts.

Report It to Your Child's School

Reporting these incidents is especially important if the cyberbullying occurred on school grounds.

Parents should know that they can report bullying even if it happened off of school grounds. Some states allow schools the authority to intervene, especially since the cyberbullying and other types of bullying will infiltrate the school building at some point.

What's more, even if the cyberbullying occurred off campus, the students will likely still discuss it at school.

For instance, many times kids will read the posts on Facebook or Instagram. They then use this information as ammunition to engage in additional bullying at school including name-calling, relational aggression, and ostracization.

When reporting cyberbullying to the school, include a copy of the tweets, text messages, posts or other correspondence for their files. Be sure to keep a copy for yourself as well. If your school district is unable or unwilling to respond to the cyberbullying, consider contacting the police to file a report.

Report It to the Social Media Sites and ISP

When cyberbullying occurs on your child’s personal accounts or happens at home, it’s important that you forward copies of the cyberbullying to your internet service provider (ISP). And if the cyberbullying occurred on a social media site, be sure to report it to them as well. Sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter will investigate cyberbullying claims, especially when it involves a minor.

Even if the cyberbullying is anonymous or occurs under a fake account, you should report it. Many times, the ISP, along with the police, can track down who is posting or sending the messages.

Remember, your child does not have to put up with cyberbullying. Many times, the cyberbully will leave a clear trail of evidence that if reported to the appropriate authorities can go a long way in putting an end to it.

Contact the Police Regarding Any Threats

Threats of death, threats of physical violence, indications of stalking, and even suggestions to commit suicide should be reported immediately. You should also report any harassment that continues over an extended period of time as well as any correspondence that includes harassment based on race, religion or disability. The police will address these incidents.

Cut Off Communication

Cancel current social networking accounts, and open new accounts. If the cyberbullying is happening via cell phone, change your child’s cell number and get an unlisted number.

Then, block the cyberbully from your child’s new social networking sites, email accounts, instant messaging, and cell phones. The key is to make it very difficult for the cyberbully to contact your child.

Be Aware of the Effects of Cyberbullying

Kids who are cyberbullied experience a wide variety of effects including everything from feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable to feeling depressed and even suicidal.

Be very aware of the consequences of cyberbullying and do not be afraid to get them the help they need in order to heal. Watch for changes in behavior and communicate on a daily basis with your child. It also is important to distract your child from social media. Do something fun together or encourage your child to take up a new hobby. The key is to redirect their attention away from what others are saying and doing.

If your child is having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

Seek Counseling and Support

Cyberbullying is a big issue that shouldn’t be handled alone. Be sure to surround your child with supportive friends and family. Remember, it helps to talk to someone about what is happening.

Consider finding a professional counselor to help your child heal. You also should have your child evaluated by a healthcare professional, especially if you notice changes in mood, sleeping habits, or eating habits. Even college students who are being cyberbullied should get outside help.

Refrain From Taking Away Technology

It is normal for parents to want to eliminate what is hurting their child. And for most parents, the logical answer seems to be to take away the cell phone and the computer. But, for teens, this often means cutting off communication with their entire world.

Their phones and their computers are one of the most important ways they communicate with others. If that option for communication is removed, they can feel secluded and cut off from their world. This can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation. Instead, help your child navigate the situation by changing online behaviors, setting up boundaries, and limiting time online.

Remember, research has shown that most kids don’t report bullying because they are afraid of losing their phone or computer. Instead, remember that it is not the technology that is hurting your child, but the person on the other end of the technology. Assure your children that they will not lose their phone if they report cyberbullying. Then, keep your promises.

Bullying is when someone is picked on by a person or group. Bullies might make fun of people who they think don’t fit in.

Bullies might make fun of others for many things, including:

  • appearance (how someone looks)
  • behavior (how someone acts)
  • race or religion
  • social status (whether someone is popular) (like being gay, lesbian, or transgender)

Bullying can come in different types:

  • Physical bullying is when bullies hurt their targets physically. This might be shoving, tripping, punching, or hitting. Any form of touching that a person does not want can be bullying and possible sexual assault.
  • Verbal bullying is taunting or teasing someone.
  • Psychological bullying is gossiping about or excluding people to make them feel bad about themselves. is when bullies use the internet and social media and say things that they might not say in person. This can include sending mean texts, posting insults about someone on Twitter, or making rude comments on their Instagram pictures. Cyberbullies also might post personal information, pictures, or videos designed to hurt or embarrass someone else.

What Are the Effects of Bullying?

Bullies often pick on people over and over again. This can make teens:

  • feel afraid, stressed, depressed, or anxious
  • have thoughts about suicide or hurting themselves
  • have trouble with their schoolwork
  • have problems with mood, energy level, sleep, and appetite

What Kind of People Are Bullies?

Both guys and girls can be bullies. Bullies may be:

  • outgoing and aggressive. This kind of bully might make fun of you to your face or physically hurt you.
  • quiet and sneaky. This kind of bully might try to manipulate in secret. They might anonymously start a damaging rumor just to see what happens.
  • friendly and fake. This kind of bully might pretend to be your friend so that you tell them things, but then do hurtful things behind your back.

Many bullies are a lot alike. They:

  • like to be in control of others
  • are focused on themselves
  • have poor social skills and have a hard time getting along with people
  • might not care about people, or lack empathy
  • are often insecure and bully others to make themselves feel better

Some bullies don’t understand normal social emotions like guilt, empathy, compassion, or remorse. These people need help from a mental health professional like a counselor, social worker, psychiatrist, or psychologist.

What Can I Do?

There are many things that you can do if you’re being bullied or know someone who is. You can:

Tell a trusted adult. Adults in positions of authority, like parents, teachers, or coaches, often can deal with bullying without the bully ever learning how they found out about it.

Ignore the bully and walk away. Bullies like getting a reaction. If you walk away or ignore them, you’re telling them that you don’t care.

Walk tall and hold your head high. Using this type of body language sends a message that you’re not vulnerable.

Don’t get physical. You’re more likely to be hurt and get into trouble if you try to fight a bully. Work out your anger in another way, such as exercising or writing it down (make sure you delete or tear up any emails, posts, letters, or notes you write in anger).

Try to talk to the bully. Try to point out that his or her behavior is serious and harmful. This can work well if you notice that a member of your own group has started to pick on or shun another member.

Practice confidence. Practice ways to respond to the bully verbally or through your behavior. Practice feeling good about yourself (even if you have to fake it at first).

Talk about it. It may help to talk to a guidance counselor, teacher, or friend — anyone who can give you the support you need. Talking can be a good outlet for the fears and frustrations that can build when you’re being bullied.

Find your (true) friends. If you’ve been bullied with rumors or gossip, tell your friends so that they can help you feel safe and secure. Avoid being alone, especially when the bullying is happening a lot.

Stand up for friends and others you see being bullied. Your actions help the victim feel supported and may stop the bullying.

Join your school’s bullying or violence prevention programs. Peer mediation is another way you may be able to work things out with a bully. If your school doesn’t have these programs, start one of your own.

What If I’m the Bully?

Some people bully to deal with their own feelings of stress, anger, or frustration. Bullies might also have been bullied and now want to show their power by bullying someone else.

If you have bullied someone:

  • Try talking to a trusted adult to talk about why you have become a bully. Ask them for some advice on how you could change.
  • Try thinking of how the person being bullied feels. Imagine how you would feel if you were the target.

Even though people are different, it’s important to treat everyone with respect.

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