Cyberbullying can destroy a young life. It takes the worst of youthful cruelty and puts it on that most public of forums – the Internet. Too many American young people keep quiet about online abuse. And too many kill themselves over it. The Attorney General joins with the nation’s leaders, including the president of the United States, in insisting we must do everything we can to end cyberbullying, now.
Anyone who sends any online communication to deliberately frighten, embarrass, harass or otherwise target another is a cyber bully. The cyber bully can use instant messenger, e-mail, websites, diary sites, online profiles, interactive games, tablets, and cell phones to assault his or her victim. Most of the time, the cyber bully knows the victim, and most of the time cyber bully has been bullied too. Racism, intolerance, and fear can also play a role.
- Direct attacks are hurtful messages sent from the cyber bully directly to the target through email, social networking sites, instant messaging, or other forums. These messages might be anonymous or sent through fake accounts. They often target the victim relentlessly.
- Indirect attacks or campaigns are widespread messages that hurt the victim’s reputation. Cyber bullies may start a website or a page on a social networking site dedicated to spreading hateful messages about the victim.
- Invasions of privacy involve the cyber bully going through the victim’s computer or cell phone in order to find private emails, text messages, or photos and then sharing those personal details or pictures with others. Secretly leaving a webcam running and recording the target’s actions without their knowledge or installing spyware on the target’s computer are other forms of this cyberbullying.
- Use strong secret passwords for online accounts – Never share them, ever.
- Stay out of heated online debates.
- Offline (“real world”) problems lead to online problems. Tell someone.
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
- Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
- Talking about being a burden to others.
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
- Sleeping too little or too much.
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
- Displaying extreme mood swings.
- California Education Code §§ 32261, 32265, 32270, and 48900 defines bullying of pupils to include bullying committed by means of an electronic act, and authorizes school officials to suspend or recommend for expulsion pupils who engage in bullying.
- Common Sense Media offers tips on cyberbullying: what it is and why it matters.
- ConnectSafely.org offers tips to share with your kids on how to prevent and stop cyberbullying.
- IKeepSafe.org provides information and tools on cyberbullying: what to look for, what to teach your kids, lessons from a mother's experience, and much more.
- The National Crime Prevention Council offers advice on how parents can play a central role in preventing cyberbullying and stopping it when it happens.
- National Suicide Prevention HotlineUS 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- State-by-state cyberbullying laws www.cyberbullying.us/Bullying_and_Cyberbullying_Laws.pdf
- StopCyberbullying.org is a program of Wired Safety, with information on how to recognize and prevent cyber bulling.
- Symantec provides information for parents on cyberbullying.
- Videos featuring kids talking about cyberbullying from the Attorney General and Wired Safety.