Guidance for parents and young people on cyberbullying, including advice for ending (or preventing) the cycle of aggression. For a more comprehensive look, see A Parents’ Guide to Cyberbullying.
For kids and teens
Know that it’s not your fault. What people call “bullying” is sometimes an argument between two people. But if someone is repeatedly cruel to you, that’s bullying and you mustn’t blame yourself. No one deserves to be treated cruelly.
Don’t respond or retaliate. Sometimes a reaction is exactly what aggressors are looking for because they think it gives them power over you, and you don’t want to empower a bully. As for retaliating, getting back at a bully turns you into one – and can turn one mean act into a chain reaction. If you can, remove yourself from the situation. If you can’t, sometimes humor disarms or distracts a person from bullying.
Save the evidence. The only good news about bullying online or on phones is that it can usually be captured, saved, and shown to someone who can help. You can save that evidence in case things escalate. [Visit ConnectSafely.org/cyberbullying for instructions on how to capture screens on phones and computers.]
Tell the person to stop. This is completely up to you – don’t do it if you don’t feel totally comfortable doing it, because you need to make your position completely clear that you will not stand for this treatment any more. You may need to practice beforehand with someone you trust, like a parent or good friend.
Reach out for help – especially if the behavior’s really getting to you. You deserve backup. See if there’s someone who can listen, help you process what’s going on and work through it – a friend, relative or maybe an adult you trust.
Use available tech tools. Most social media apps and services allow you to block the person. Whether the harassment’s in an app, texting, comments or tagged photos, do yourself a favor and block the person. You can also report the problem to the service. That probably won’t end it, but you don’t need the harassment in your face, and you’ll be less tempted to respond. If you’re getting threats of physical harm, you should call your local police (with a parent or guardian’s help) and consider reporting it to school authorities.
Protect your accounts. Don’t share your passwords with anyone – even your closest friends, who may not be close forever – and password-protect your phone so no one can use it to impersonate you. You’ll find advice at passwords.connectsafely.org.
If someone you know is being bullied, take action. Just standing by can empower an aggressor and does nothing to help. The best thing you can do is try to stop the bullying by taking a stand against it. If you can’t stop it, support the person being bullied. If the person’s a friend, you can listen and see how to help. Consider together whether you should report the bullying. If you’re not already friends, even a kind word can help reduce the pain. At the very least, help by not passing along a mean message and not giving positive attention to the person doing the bullying.
Additional advice for parents
Know that you’re lucky if your child asks for help. Most young people don’t tell their parents about bullying online or offline. So if your child’s losing sleep or doesn’t want to go to school or seems agitated when on his or her computer or phone, ask why as calmly and open-heartedly as possible. Feel free to ask if it has anything to do with mean behavior or social issues. But even if it does, don’t assume it’s bullying. You won’t know until you get the full story, starting with your child’s perspective.
Work with your child. There are two reasons why you’ll want to keep your child involved. Bullying and cyberbullying usually involve a loss of dignity or control over a social situation, and involving your child in finding solutions helps him or her regain that. The second reason is about context. Because the bullying is almost always related to school life and our kids understand the situation and context better than parents ever can, their perspective is key to getting to the bottom of the situation and working out a solution. You may need to have private conversations with others, but let your child know if you do, and report back. This is about your child’s life, so your child needs to be part of the solution.
Respond thoughtfully, not fast. What parents don’t always know is that they can make things worse for their kids if they act rashly. A lot of cyberbullying involves somebody getting marginalized (put down and excluded), which the bully thinks increases his or her power or status. If you respond publicly or if your child’s peers find out about even a discreet meeting with school authorities, the marginalization can get worse, which is why any response needs to be well thought out.
More than one perspective needed. Your child’s account of what happened is likely completely sincere, but remember that one person’s truth isn’t necessarily everybody’s. You’ll need to get other perspectives and be open-minded about what they are. Sometimes kids let themselves get pulled into chain reactions, and often what we see online is only one side of or part of the story.
What victims say helps most is to be heard – really listened to – either by a friend or
an adult who cares. That’s why, if your kids come to you for help, it’s so important to respond thoughtfully and involve them. Just by being heard respectfully, a child is often well on the way to healing.
The ultimate goal is restored self-respect and greater resilience in your child. This, not getting someone punished, is the best focus for resolving the problem and helping your child heal. What your child needs most is to regain a sense of dignity. Sometimes that means standing up to the bully, sometimes not. Together, you and your child can figure out how to get there.
One positive outcome we don’t often think about (or hear in the news) is resilience. We know the human race will never completely eradicate meanness or cruelty, and we also know that bullying is not, as heard in past generations, “normal” or a rite of passage. We need to keep working to eradicate it. But when it does happen and we overcome it – our resilience grows. It’s not something that can be “downloaded” or taught. We grow it through exposure to challenges and figuring out how to deal with them. So sometimes it’s important to give them space to do that and let them know we have their back.
If you’d like to print these tips out, here’s a PDF version. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for permission to reprint or post.
© 2013 ConnectSafely.org
For more info:
You’ve decided to write a persuasive essay, and the topic you’ve chosen is cyber bullying—specifically, something should be done about it, but what?
The core, or the “guts,” of your essay should come from your own thoughts and views on the issue. To really make an impact, though, you should support your arguments with citations from credible outside sources.
What Makes a Source Credible?
Good question. Credibility (aka “believability”) can come from one of several factors:
- The source is a person or organization that is an authority on the issue. For our purposes, this could be school administrators, educators, psychologists, and so forth.
- The source is an established commentator. This could be a well-known opinion columnist, for example, or a newspaper byline. Such sources don’t have to be experts in a related field so much as having established authority and objectivity in the past.
- The source is someone with direct experience with the issue. This could easily be, for example, someone who has experienced cyber bullying first hand. (Check with your prof on this one, though. He might not accept an interview with your roommate as a credible research source. Your prof is more likely to prefer you summarize someone’s experiences as printed in an already published source.)
- The source is a person or organization that will be directly involved in this issue, now or in the future—for example, law enforcement or legislators.
Still not sure what I mean? Let me give you some examples of what is not a credible source:
- Random Internet bloggers.
- People with obvious political biases or agendas (even if they’re major media figures).
- People with ulterior motives (thus lacking objectivity).
- Anyone who does not have a demonstrated authority to make credible statements.
Note:It’s acceptable to use non-authoritative sources that are highly persuasive, but it’s sort of like starting a campfire with gasoline. It might work, but it might blow up in your face.
Want a little more help determining whether sources are credible? Read How to Apply the CRAAP Test to Essay Sources.
If you have a pretty good sense of what makes a source credible but aren’t sure where to find credible outside sources, I’ve done a little bit of research for you. Here are 12 cyber bullying articles that you can use in your persuasive essay.
I’ve also included MLA 8 citations and APA citations for your convenience. (If you’re citing in APA format, remember to change the current date of access to the date you accessed the source, if relevant.)
3 Cyber Bullying Articles on the Definition of Cyber Bullying
So what the heck is cyber bullying? Is it being mean to computers? The following sources are important for establishing your definition of this phenomenon.
Cyber bullying article #1: Cyberbullying
This article not only contains a definition of cyber bullying, but also includes a discussion of its effects, signs of cyber bullying, and tips for parents to help their children who may be suffering from cyber bullying. Additionally, the article links to additional resources for parents, children, and teens.
The information in this article is published by The Nemours Center for Children’s Health Media. It’s part of The Nemours Foundation, “a nonprofit organization created by philanthropist Alfred I. duPont in 1936 and devoted to improving the health of children.”
MLA 8 Citation
“Cyberbullying.” KidsHealth. The Nemours Foundation, 2014, kidshealth.org/en/parents/cyberbullying.html.
Cyberbullying. (2014). Retrieved from http://kidshealth.org/en/parents /cyberbullying.html
Cyber bullying article #2: What Is Cyberbullying?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides a concise definition of the term: “Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology.”
It goes on to explain exactly what is meant by “electronic technology,” as well as gives a very good overview of the issue, including ideas for action. Much of the government’s concern is that bullying, in general, often involves illegal or criminal behavior. So definitions of such behavior are very important.
MLA 8 Citation
“What Is Cyberbullying.” StopBullying.gov. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/what-is-it/.
What is cyberbullying. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.stopbullying.gov /cyberbullying/what-is-it/
Cyber bullying article #3: What Is Cyberbullying?
This article, published by the National Crime Prevention Council, defines cyber bullying, discusses the effects of cyber bullying, and offers resources for parents and teens.
MLA 8 Citation
“What Is Cyberbullying?” National Crime Prevention Council, www.ncpc.org/topics/cyberbullying/what-is-cyberbullying.
What is cyberbullying? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ncpc.org/topics /cyberbullying/what-is-cyberbullying
3 Cyber Bullying Articles on Why People Cyber Bully
The reason it’s so important to understand the causes of cyber bullying in writing your persuasive essay is that you will need to decide whether to recommend treating its causes or its effects.
For instance, do you recommend counseling for potential bullies or for their eventual victims? Do you recommend social sanctions or punishment? The following articles will help you answer these questions.
Cyber bullying article #4: 8 Reasons Why Kids Cyberbully Others
The author, Sherri Gordon, gives a succinct list of reasons that cyber bullying takes place. Most noticeable is that the person who bullies others is trying to fit in.
Ever since our caveman days, bullying has reinforced one’s sense of “belonging” by ganging up on “outsiders.” And “belonging” is something that teenagers, in particular, desperately want.
Gordon also mentions a lack of empathy on the part of many cyber bullies. Empathy is something that, in general, develops relatively late in adolescents.
MLA 8 Citation
Gordon, Sherri. “8 Factors That Motivate Cyberbullies to Lash Out at Others.” Verywell, 30 Dec. 2016, www.verywell.com/reasons-why-kids-cyberbully-others-460553.
Gordon, S. (2016). 8 factors that motivate cyberbullies to lash out at others. Retrieved from https://www.verywell.com/reasons-why-kids-cyberbully-others-460553
Cyber bullying article #5: Why Do People Cyberbully?
DeleteCyberbullying.org is a website that describes itself as “A Stop Online Harassment Project.” It’s devoted to finding both the origins of and the cure for cyber bullying.
In addition to mentioning some of the same causes of the problem as Gordon, above, the website mentions the anonymity of the Internet as a causal factor. Tied in with anonymity is the lack of any threat of retaliation, which encourages many cyber bullies—underlining the fact that bullying is a cowardly act.
MLA 8 Citation
“Why Do People Cyberbully?” DeleteCyberbullying.org, www.deletecyberbullying.org/why-do-people-cyberbully/.
Why do people cyberbully? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.deletecyberbullying.org/why-do-people-cyberbully/
Cyber bullying article #6: Why Do Kids Cyberbully Each Other?
This brief article examines the reasons kids cyber bully, such as anger, revenge, boredom, or frustration.
The STOP Cyberbullying website also links to a variety of additional articles that provide advice for dealing with bullies and advice on how to take a stand against cyber bullying.
MLA 8 Citation
“STOP Cyberbullying: Why Do Kids Cyberbully Each Other?” StopCyberbulling.org, WiredSafety.org, www.stopcyberbullying.org /why_do_kids_cyberbully_each_other.html.
STOP cyberbullying: Why do kids cyberbully each other? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.stopcyberbullying.org/why_do_kids_cyberbully_each_other.html
3 Cyber Bullying Articles on Treatments for Cyber Bullying
All of the following articles point out that, when recommending treatment for cyber bullying, it’s once again a matter of definition: what kind of treatment, and for whom?
Should the treatment focus on prevention or on dealing with the damage? In your persuasive essay, you’ll need to decide on your stance on these issues.
Cyber bullying article #7: Cyberbullying “Causes Suicidal Thoughts in Kids More Than Traditional Bullying”
David McNamee, a frequent contributor to Medical News Today, calls attention to one frightening aspect of cyber bullying: its victims are highly prone to having suicidal thoughts.
He quotes a study done in the Netherlands. The authors of the study speculated that the increased power of cyber bullying to make its victims suicidal was due to the widespread nature of the Internet.
Unlike traditional face-to-face bullying, cyber bullying material can be stored on a variety of online media, causing the victim to relive the experience again and again. This suggests that any treatment of cyber bullying should include monitoring the significant risk it creates of suicidal thoughts and actions in victims.
MLA 8 Citation
McNamee, Dave. “Cyberbullying ‘Causes Suicidal Thoughts in Kids More than Traditional Bullying.’” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 11 Mar. 2014, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/273788.php.
McNamee, D. (2014, March 11). Cyberbullying “causes suicidal thoughts in kids more than traditional bullying.” Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/273788.php
Cyber bullying article #8: Bullying and Cyberbullying: History, Statistics, Law, Prevention and Analysis
Bullying has been in existence for many years, and this journal article examines the history of the problem and how bullying expanded to include cyber bullying as technologies changed. It also includes suggestions for preventing cyber bullying.
MLA 8 Citation
Donegan, Richard. “Bullying and Cyberbullying: History, Statistics, Law, Prevention and Analysis.” The Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 33–42. www.elon.edu/docs/e-web/academics/communications/research/vol3no1/ 04doneganejspring12.pdf.
Donegan, R. (2012). Bullying and cyberbullying: History, statistics, law, prevention and analysis. The Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications,3(1), 33-42. Retrieved from https://www.elon.edu/docs/ e-web/academics/communications/research/vol3no1/ 04doneganejspring12.pdf
Cyber bullying article #9: Social Media Cyber Bullying Linked to Teen Depression
This article is published by Scientific American, “the longest continuously published magazine in the U.S.” It highlights the fact that both those who cyberbully and those who are cyberbullied often experience higher rates of depression.
The article reviews several studies and stresses that these studies alone cannot prove that cyber bullying causes depression. It does, however, suggest that teens who suffer from depression are more likely to become victims of bullying than those who are not depressed.
MLA 8 Citation
Pappas, Stephanie. “Social Media Cyber Bullying Linked to Teen Depression.” Scientific American, 23 June 2015, www.scientificamerican.com/article /social-media-cyber-bullying-linked-to-teen-depression/.
Pappas, S. (2015, June 23). Social media cyber bullying linked to teen depression. Scientific American. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/social-media-cyber-bullying-linked-to-teen-depression/
3 Cyber Bullying Articles on the Prevention of Cyber Bullying
Can we stop cyber bullying from happening in the first place? The following articles are helpful for defining a call to action. What should readers do about cyber bullying? How can they prevent it from happening?
Cyber bullying article #10: Cyberbullying: Intervention and Prevention Strategies
The authors of this article, Ted Feinberg and Nicole Robey, recommend a number of strategies to reduce the incidence and, particularly, the recurrence of cyber bullying.
For victims and parents of victims, the authors recommend recording the offending material, enlisting the help of authorities, contacting the attacker directly, and importantly, having an open environment in the home regarding computer and Internet use.
For educators, the authors recommend that a threat assessment be done and that anti-cyber bullying education be made a regular part of the curriculum.
Feinberg, Ted, and Nicole Robey. “Cyberbullying: Intervention and Prevention Strategies” (Handout no. S4H15-1). Helping Children at Home and School III – Handouts for Families and Educators, edited by Andrea Canter et al., National Association of School Psychologists. Semantic Scholar, Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, pdfs.semanticscholar.org/d27d /47c9add136150ec0f96edcf08ade223e3d2b.pdf.
Feinbert, T., & Robey, N. (n.d.). Cyberbullying: Intervention and prevention strategies (Handout no. S4H15-1). In A. Canter, L. Paige, & S. Shaw, Helping Children at Home and School III – Handouts for Families and Educators. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org /d27d/47c9add136150ec0f96edcf08ade223e3d2b.pdf
Cyber bullying article #11: Bullying and Cyberbullying Prevention Strategies and Resources
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is a famous and long-established organization that originally combated anti-Semitism. It has since expanded its reach to include opposing all forms of discrimination and defamation.
This website presents a collection of useful articles, many of which focus on preventative actions, such as Bullying Prevention and Intervention Tips for Schools and What Can be Done About Name-Calling and Bullying.
While many of these resources are aimed at preventing “traditional” bullying, the advice can be applied to cyber bullying as well. Below are citations for both the list of sources on the URL as a whole and an example with one of the articles available there.
MLA Citation (URL with list of resources)
“Bullying and Cyberbullying Prevention Strategies and Resources.” Anti-Defamation League, www.adl.org/education-outreach/bullying-cyberbullying/c/strategies-and-resources.html.
APA Citation (URL with list of resources)
Bullying and cyberbullying prevention strategies and resources. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.adl.org/education-outreach/bullying-cyberbullying/c/strategies-and-resources.html
MLA Citation (example PDF resource)
“Bullying Prevention and Intervention Tips for Schools.” Anti-Defamation League, www.adl.org/sites/default/files/documents/assets/pdf/education-outreach/Bullying-Prevention-and-Intervention-Tips-for-Schools-Institutions.pdf.
APA Citation (example PDF resource)
Bullying prevention and intervention tips for schools. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.adl.org/sites/default/files/documents/assets/pdf/education-outreach/Bullying-Prevention-and-Intervention-Tips-for-Schools-Institutions.pdf
Cyber bullying article #12: Cyberbullying: Resources for Intervention and Prevention
Published in the Universal Journal of Education Research, this article discusses cyber bullying and ways to combat it. It also includes an overview of prevention and intervention programs and the role schools play in preventing cyber bullying.
Notar, Charles E., et al. “Cyberbullying: Resources for Intervention and Prevention.” Universal Journal of Educational Research, vol. 1, no. 3, 2013, pp. 133–45. ERIC Institute of Education Sciences, doi:10.13189/ujer.2013.010301.
Notar, C. E., Padgett, S., & Roden, J. (2013). Cyberbullying: Resources for intervention and prevention. Universal Journal of Educational Research,1(3), 133-145. doi:10.13189/ujer.2013.010301
Putting It All Together
I’ve barely scratched the surface here. My goal was to give you a starting point for your own research. There are about 43 gazillion articles and websites out there on this topic. So I strongly suggest you make your search terms as specific as possible.
Once you dive in, remember that persuasive essays recommend action(s), and that to do so, you need to take into account, as well as point out, three things:
- What is the cost—in terms of money, effort, and time?
- Is it worth the effort? Will it solve or at least mitigate the problem, to an extent that justifies those costs?
- What about opportunity cost—the fact that, whatever we do, we could have been doing something else potentially useful instead (should resources spent combating cyber bullying be used elsewhere)?
If you need more help getting your arms around writing your persuasive essay, I recommend reading How to Create a Persuasive Essay Outline and checking out Persuasive Essay Writing Made Simple (Infographic).
If you need a little more help with finding resources, check out 5 Best Resources to Help with Writing a Research Paper.
Looking at these cyber bullying articles but need to write something other than a persuasive essay? Here are a few examples of other types of papers about the topic:
Looking for even more help? Why not send your paper to a Kibin editor for a little revision expertise?
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