Protecting yourself from Cyberbullies

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Cyberbullies are on the rise and schools are undoubtedly doing all they can to educate students on how to deal with cyberbullying. But who really pays attention in school? This is a quick rundown of cyberbullying, how to recognise it, and how to deal with it.

A cyberbully is simply a bully who operates online, in cyberspace. Instead of hanging out at the playground, he waits in forums and chatrooms and torments, threatens, harasses, humiliates, embarrasses or otherwise attacks you. His actions can make you feel anything from depressed to anxious or even suicidal.

Because the physical element is missing from cyberspace, the cyberbully uses emotional and mental attacks to get at you. Some methods of cyberbullying are taunting, spamming you with threats or insults, identity theft or even exluding you from online activities with your group of friends. Bullying in real life becomes cyberbullying when photos and videos are posted online. Don’t worry though, there are ways to avoid becoming a victim of cyberbullying.

The internet may be pervasive, but it can do little if you choose to ignore it.

Remember to never give out personal information online! By keeping to this, you are preventing cyberbullying from spilling into real life, where physical harm can be caused.

Don’t give out your passwords! If a cyberbully gets a hold of your accounts, he can use it to send out offensive messages, pictures, or even viruses to your friends.

Never open emails from people you don’t know, or worse, from people who you know are after you! Delete the email as it may contain viruses, threats or worse.

This final method of avoiding cyberbullying involves some proactiveness on your part: be polite to everyone you meet online. It may be tempting to be rude and aggressive because you’re anonymous on the internet, but hold back. Remember that there is a person behind that computer screen, and respect him or her.

If you’ve already become a victim of cyberbullying, there are also fuss free ways to deal with it.

Tell an adult, or a friend you trust. You can make reports to either your school or to the police.

If you are being threatened or spammed, ignore the messages. Most bullies do mean things to get a reaction out of you. If you ignore them, they’ll leave.

Lastly, notify your internet or mobile phone server providor. Most sites allow you to report abuse, but keep in mind that you will need evidence for the report.

In the event that you’re playing a game, like World of Warcraft, and you get harrassed/insulted/camped/spammed, open a ticket! Speak to a GM! Game Masters are the policemen of virtual worlds, and they’re often as kind and as understanding as real policemen. Don’t be intimidated by them.

Though online attacks might seem like petty things, they’re not. Cyberbullying is getting more and more common, with children as young as Primary 2 becoming victims. Schools have been given guidelines in case of such situations, and cyberbullying makes for a valid police report. Don’t be ashamed if you’ve become the target of a cyberbully, report them!

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