Cyberbullying: Caught in a vicious web

What is a cyberbully?bully

A cyberbully is a person who uses technology to harass or intimidate others. This may occur through sending cruel or threatening emails or text messages. It may include spreading rumors and lies through chat rooms, blogs and websites. A cyberbully may also encourage others to gang up on an individual.

Why is it a problem?

More than a million school-age children in the United States are harassed electronically each day. Cyberbullying can happen anywhere. Vicious messages may be spread anonymously and quickly to many people.

Cyberbullies may . . .

  • Create websites or online accounts about a person with embarrassing photographs, jokes, rumors and cartoons.
  • Repeatedly send harassing email or text messages.
  • Send embarrassing photographs electronically through messaging or apps, or by posting them online.
  • Pose as another person online.
  • Exclude certain individuals from online groups.

Get involved if your child is being cyberbullied

  • Save and download evidence. You may also forward it to your Internet service provider (ISP). If you do not know who it is coming from, ask your Internet service provider to trace messages. Once identified, you may tell the cyberbully to stop, change your child’s email address, or block or filter information sent through email and messaging.
  • File a complaint. Many cellphone companies and Internet service providers have regulations.
  • Contact the school, parents, attorney or police.

Encourage responsible online behavior

  • Talk to your children about their online activities.
  • Keep an updated list of approved online friends.
  • Monitor your child’s activities.
  • Keep the computer in a central location of the house.
  • Let your children know that you will be checking their profiles and postings on blogs and Web pages.
  • Watch for secretive behavior.
  • Install software that will record your child’s online activities.