When I was a kid… the world was different. This is especially true for challenges that individuals, especially youth, face when it comes to bullying today…

Cyberbullying is different than traditional bullying in that there may be no escape from it. Technology follows us everywhere in our lives and so we have less ‘safe spaces’ to retreat to as a way to find respite. Someone can be cyberbullied in the comfort of their own home surrounded by loved ones, for example through text messages or on facebook. While the majority of information on bullying is geared toward youth, all of the same strategies apply when it is an adult and there is a need to intervene.

Cyberbullying involves the use of communication technologies such as the Internet, social networking sites, websites, email, text messaging and instant messaging to repeatedly intimidate or harass others.

Cyberbullying includes:

  • Sending mean or threatening emails or text/instant messages.
  • Posting embarrassing photos of someone online.
  • Creating a website to make fun of others.
  • Pretending to be someone by using their name.
  • Tricking someone into revealing personal or embarrassing information and sending it to others. 

How can bullying affect people?

Some of the symptoms may include:

  • Withdrawal from family and school activities, wanting to be left alone.
  • Shyness
  • Stomachaches
  • Headaches
  • Panic Attacks
  • Not being able to sleep
  • Sleeping too much
  • Exhaustion
  • Nightmares

Watch for these behaviours among people in your life and if you are noticing any of them, then there are ways that you can provide support and intervene.

According to prevent.ca, ‘in 90% of bullying incidents, peers are present and watching. Yet bullying often stops within 10 seconds when bystanders intervene’. Think about that for a moment and how much power this simple intervention carries.

What do I do?

Here are some quick tips for different groups to keep in mind from the RCMP:

Youth

  • Remove yourself from the situation (online or otherwise)
  • Keep a record of the bullying with dates
  • Report to a trusted adult or a resource like Kids Help phone
  • Report unwanted text messages to your phone provider
  • Report online bullying to the social media site and block the person responsible

Someone you know is being bullied

  • If it is safe, tell the bully to stop
  • Tell friends, or an adult who can help stop it
  • Befriend the person being bullied and lead them away from the situation
  • Write an anonymous letter to a trusted adult
  • Report it to school staff

Adults

  • Talk to the person being bullied and let them know they can trust you and do not need to experience the bullying alone
  • Help them document the bullying
  • Help them report as above
  • Report all criminal offences such as threats, assaults, harassment, and sexual exploitation to local police.

It can be very isolating to be the victim of any type of bullying. The danger of that isolation is that the person can feel even more alone and that they may even deserve it because nobody is saying or doing anything. The mental health effects of experiencing bullying can last much later into adult life and present as depression or anxiety symptoms.

Conversely, there are many risks for those that bully others as well that can lead to problems in their lives and we can interrupt the pattern to keep everyone safe and have a fulfilling and happy life.

Together, we can end bullying for everyone! Share how you are spreading kindness below.

Alexander Cameron

Author Alexander Cameron

Alexander has his Masters in Clinical Social Work from the University of Calgary and owns a private therapy practice in downtown Toronto. He has sat on several provincial advisory committees in Alberta including Engaging Men and Boys in Violence Prevention and has a special interest in working on healthy relationships and healthy masculinity. He has extensive experience in mental health, addiction, and domestic violence therapy. Read his blog at alexandercameron.ca and find him on Instagram, @thetattooedtherapist.

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