“It has been well-documented that low self-esteem, depression, poor academic achievement, truancy and suicide are all associated with being bullied.”
–Jacqueline M. Reid | Associate Director, ADL Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties Region
For those who have been victimized by cyberbullying – the digital terrain appears rough, unscalable and treacherous. Each day you wake up never really knowing what taunts or threats will appear on Facebook or some other social media site. You simply know that you have been targeted by an individual or their sheep-mob to suffer humiliation in varying degrees to further their derogatory agenda.
Your heart may be pounding and you may have tears in your eyes as you read hurtful dialogues and accusations against you. Yes indeed, it can be quite painful and at this moment in time (when you read their slime), it literally sucks to be you!
I’m Raising My Hand Here
I’ve been there, done it and lived it in one form or another! In my lifetime (though not as a teen) – I’ve been targeted online by cyberstalkers, cyberbullys and people who often did not agree with something I blogged about. It comes with the territory. Back in Usenet days we called them trolls.
One of the vilest trolls that I ever encountered online was while I was working in Library systems support at a liberal arts college in New England (2004). My troll knew where I lived, where I worked, the specific model and license plate of my car and the parking lot that I used. He thought he had me hook, line and sinker, (yes, he was male and was stalking me from an online technical forum that I frequented).
Though I was quite troubled by my attacker (troll), I did take action. How did I do this?
- I filed a police report
- I contacted the tech forum administrators
- I moved from my home residence to an undisclosed location and obtained a post office box
- I did not personally respond to any of his threats (these were addressed via third party involvement).
Does this sound a little too extreme? In my eyes, this troll was too close to home. He knew where I lived and where I worked and it could have become quite personal in nature – to the point of a real life encounter. Back in 2004 we did not have Internet privacy tools like Cocoon or Abine for online protection!
Let’s get back to the heart of the matter
YOU! You read that right! YOU are the one who is under attack and for whatever reason YOU are the one who is suffering from unmitigated abuse from an attacker(s) that gives few rhymes or reasons for the attack(s).
Your attacker(s) desire to get inside your head and remain there
The one thing they are counting on is your FEAR. They are anticipating that you will buckle beneath their their online threats and cater to their prescribed scripts. It does not have to be that way because you have the power to counteract their self-serving scripts. Here is how you can accomplish this:
- Never acknowledge or respond to any online threats that they make
- Record all of their threats (via screen capture or via whatever means you have.)
- File a local police report if they are physically threatening to harm you
- Make your family and friends aware of the fact that you have been attacked online
- Contact your school guidance counselor
Despite the potential damage of cyber bullying, it is alarmingly common among adolescents and teens. According to Cyber bullying statistics from the i-SAFE foundation:
- Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying.
- More than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyberthreats online.
- Over 25 percent of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the Internet.
- Well over half of young people do not tell their parents when cyber bullying occurs.
Available Reporting Resources
There appears to be very few resources online where you can report actual cyberbullying threats. Currently, you can fill out a report at CyberbullyingReport.com (a free service available to anyone with a valid email address) as long as you agree to their Cyberbullying Report usage terms. You can also visit the National Bullying Prevention Center.
Where to go from here?
Stay strong – you do not stand alone. A Florida mom was recently arrested for allegedly choking a 14-year-old bully over Facebook posts about her daughter. Though this action was rather inappropriate for an adult – issues of cyberbullying sometimes lack clear borders.
The End Of Bullying Begins With Us
If you are currently under attack from a cyberbully – reach out and ask for help now!