Posted by Teens Against Bullying

What Is Cyberbullying?

While the definitions of cyberbullying, sometimes called online bullying, vary from source to source, most definitions consist of:

  • 1. electronic forms of contact
  • 2. an aggressive act
  • 3. intent
  • 4. repetition
  • 5. harm to the target
  • (Hutson, 2016)
Image of two teenagers in background cyber bullying another teenager.

Cyberbullying can be anonymous, which can sometimes make it even worse. It also has a wider audience and can spread quickly. Finally, targets of cyberbullying often feel like they can’t escape the bullying. If someone is bullying you at school, it’s over when you leave for the day. But cyberbullying can follow you home and continue all night.

Imagine a classmate posts a photo of themselves online. Someone else makes a mean, mocking comment about the photo. Soon, that photo has been shared, liked, reposted—even made into a meme. Thousands of people have seen it, even people the person being targeted doesn’t know. That’s why cyberbullying can be extra hurtful: it’s public, it spreads quickly, and it’s 24/7.

What you can do about cyberbullying

If you see someone being bullied online, here’s what you can do:

Show support for the individual(s) being bullied.

  • Choose not to join in on the bullying. You may feel pressure to join in if a lot of other people are. You can make your own choice not to contribute to the situation.
  • Don’t “like” or share posts that are bullying someone. When you see negative behavior happening online, don’t contribute to it.
  • Respond with positive support. If you feel comfortable, and if it’s safe for you, publicly show your solidarity with the person being targeted by the bullying. Even one nice comment among a bunch of mean ones can make a world of difference.
  • Reach out to the person being bullied. Send them a private message letting them know that you don’t agree with what’s happening, they don’t deserve to be treated like that, and they’re not along. Encourage them to report the bullying, or to tell an adult.

Document and report

  • Let an adult know what’s happening. Tell your teacher, a social worker, or another trusted adult at school. If outside of school, find an adult you trust and ask for their advice.
  • Report the behavior to the social media platform. The following companies provide guidelines for how to report and address cyberbullying on their sites:

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