Cyberbullying may be happening to someone you know. Watch out for these signs.
Your friend suddenly avoids using their mobile device or computer, or they begin spending much more time texting, gaming or using social networking sites.
They often seem upset, withdrawn or angry, especially after receiving emails, instant messages or text messages.
Your friend becomes more secretive about their online activities and may avoid talking about their computer or mobile device.
They're reluctant to leave the house; you stop seeing them at social events they used to enjoy.
Their grades are falling, and they're behind in their schoolwork.
Your friend doesn't even want to go to school, or they completely refuse to go.
They're not eating or sleeping well.
Also, watch for things directly related to their social networking activity, such as:
Suddenly deleting a social networking profile and account.
A whole bunch of new texts, email addresses or phone numbers begin appearing on your friend's phone, laptop or other device.
What you can do if someone you know is being cyberbullied
Being cyberbullied is one of the scariest things that can happen to someone. But you can help.
Remind your friend that they haven't done anything to deserve this, and no matter what, they don't deserve to be treated this way. Deep down, they know this, but when they hear you say it, they may feel more at ease talking about it.
Ask your friend what they need, and help them to find a solution. Don't let them react aggressively toward whoever's targeting them, because that will just make things worse.
Help your friend talk with a trusted adult at home or at school about it, but don't speak for them unless they ask you to.
If you have to, report the cyberbullying to an adult you trust. If you think the bullying is so serious that threats are involved, contact the police.
If you don't feel comfortable speaking about the situation, you can always report your friend's problem to a trusted adult with an anonymous letter.
If it feels safe to do so, take a stand by commenting on a post or photo. Keep your language neutral, don't be confrontational. Maybe try this: “I'm unfollowing this thread because it's hurtful. Others should do the same.”
Once you speak up, other people are more likely to speak up, too.
If the cyberbullying is happening on a social networking site, report it as abusive. Administrators will likely place restrictions on, or even bans anyone who is operating in violation of their anti-abuse policies and standards.
If it's safe, ask the person to stop. If you know the individual, call them and ask them why this is going on. Tell them you disapprove and ask them to stop.
Check back with your friend from time to time and see how they're doing. Show them that, as bad as this person was to them, the world has kindness, too.
Remember that you or your friend can always call Kids Help Phone to speak with a counsellor if you feel you're in over your head. It's always anonymous and confidential: 1-800-668-6868, and if you don't feel like talking, just contact them online at kidshelpphone.ca.
What else can you do if someone you know is being cyberbullied?
Here's how to avoid making a terrible situation even worse.
Comment disapprovingly on posts, images or videos that hurt people. When it comes to this, there's no such thing as harmless fun. Refuse to forward or share it.
Do something. Sometimes, we're so relieved that we're not the target that we just let it slide. Maybe it will be you next time. At the very least, offer support to the victim of the online bullying.
Remaining silent could be misinterpreted as approval by both the person cyberbullying and the victim. If you can't bring yourself to take a stand against the cruelty, at least get a message to the person being cyberbullied that you disapprove of what's happening, and that it's not their fault. Acts like that actually save lives.
Don't wait, and don't tell yourself it's none of your business. You don't want to be looking back on this moment years from now, wishing you'd done or said something. Help your friend now.
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