“What Is Cyberbullying” from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
This excerpt from stopbullying.gov , managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, highlights con temporary understandings and responses to cyberbullying at the federal level.
What Is Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Cyberbullying can occur through SMS, Text, and apps, or online in social media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share content. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation. Some cyberbullying crosses the line into unlawful or criminal behavior.
The most common places where cyberbullying occurs are:
Social Media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter
SMS (Short Message Service) also known as Text Message sent through devices
Instant Message (via devices, email provider services, apps, and social media messaging features)
With the prevalence of social media and digital forums, comments, photos, posts, and content shared by individuals can often be viewed by strangers as well as acquaintances. The content an individual shares online—both their personal content as well as any negative, mean, or hurtful content—creates a kind of permanent public record of their views, activities, and behavior. This public record can be thought of as an online reputation, which may be accessible to schools, employers, colleges, clubs, and others who may be researching an individual now or in the future. Cyberbullying can harm the online reputations of everyone involved—not just the person being bullied, but those doing the bullying or participating in it. Cyberbullying has unique concerns in that it can be:
Persistent—Digital devices offer an ability to immediately and continuously communicate 24 hours a day, so it can be difficult for children experiencing cyber-bullying to find relief.
Permanent—Most information communicated electronically is permanent and public, if not reported and removed. A negative online reputation, including for those who bully, can impact college admissions, employment, and other areas of life.
Hard to Notice—Because teachers and parents may not overhear or see cyberbullying taking place, it is harder to recognize.
Laws and Sanctions
Although all states have laws requiring schools to respond to bullying, many states do not include cyberbullying under these laws or specify the role schools should play in responding to bullying that takes place outside of school. Schools may take action either as required by law, or with local or school policies that allow them to discipline or take other action. Some states also have provisions to address bullying if it affects school performance. You can learn about the laws and policies in each state, including if they cover cyberbullying.
Frequency of Cyberbullying
The 2015 School Crime Supplement [PDF] (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics) indicates that, nationwide, about 21% of students ages 12–18 experienced bullying.
The 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) indicates that an estimated 14.9% of high school students were electronically bullied in the 12 months prior to the survey.
When cyberbullying happens, it is important to document and report the behavior so it can be addressed.
Steps to Take Immediately
Don't respond to and don't forward cyberbullying messages.
Keep evidence of cyberbullying. Record the dates, times, and descriptions of instances when cyberbullying has occurred. Save and print screenshots, emails, and text messages. Use this evidence to report cyberbullying to web and cell phone service providers.
Block the person who is cyberbullying.
Report Cyberbullying to Online Service Providers
Cyberbullying often violates the terms of service established by social media sites and internet service providers.
Review their terms and conditions or rights and responsibilities sections. These describe content that is or is not appropriate.
Visit social media safety centers to learn how to block users and change settings to control who can contact you.
Report cyberbullying to the social media site so they can take action against users abusing the terms of service.
Report Cyberbullying to Law Enforcement
When cyberbullying involves these activities it is considered a crime and should be reported to law enforcement:
Threats of violence
Child pornography or sending sexually explicit messages or photos
Taking a photo or video of someone in a place where he or she would expect privacy
Stalking and hate crimes
Some states consider other forms of cyberbullying criminal. Consult your state's laws and law enforcement for additional guidance.
Report Cyberbullying to Schools
Cyberbullying can create a disruptive environment at school and is often related to in-person bullying. The school can use the information to help inform prevention and response strategies.
In many states, schools are required to address cyberbullying in their anti-bullying policy. Some state laws also cover off-campus behavior that creates a hostile school environment.
Source: “Report Cyberbullying.” StopBullying.gov . https://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/how-to-report/index.html
Gale Document Number: GALE|CX7552800028