Another serious post, sorry if you're not a fan of these but it's something I feel really strongly about. Before I get into the how to deal with cyberbullies, I feel like I need to get something off my chest. Or rather I need to saw how I've dealt with this in the past and then I'll get into how it should honestly be handled. Because I did not handle it the best that I could've.
Personal History with Cyberbullies
Now cyberbullies are always hard to deal with. It's even worst if it's started by your best friend that you have three classes and homeroom with at the start of a new school year at a new school. I had been best friends with this girl for three girls, we'll call her H. H and I were thick as thieves until a boy she had been dating became the center of her world and she was ditching me every day for him. Now I'm not good at confrontation in any way. I would rather give a heart felt, hand written note then say anything out load. Which is exactly what I did since I couldn't seem to get her away from him to talk. Now we passed notes all the time so it wasn't like it was unusual. When I got home, I got a notification from MySpace that H had a new blog post on her page. I opened it up thinking nothing of it. It was MySpace after all so it was probably about some band or some random thing that was popular back in 2007. But it wasn't. It was a hate blog dedicated at me. She had posted sections of my letter that I wrote to her and took them way out of context and added her own twist on them. Saying that I slept with her previous boyfriend and I was just looking to do the same again. Which was entirely false. I told my friends and my mom about it as I wasn't sure what to do. A few asked that I printed it out so we could bring it to the principal or one of the teachers. So I did just that, thinking I would confront her with a physical copy of her blog and hope she would take it down.
When I went into school the next day, there were a bunch of people whispering and looking away from me when I walked past them. Some guys came up to me asking if I would sleep with them too and others just called me the "Blonde Whore". Excuse my language but that's what I was called for three periods straight before I could talk to H. Some of my other friends if they were around tried to defend me but the damage was already done. I got to fourth period hoping to see her in her seat which was next to mine but she didn't show. In fact she didn't reappear in school for several days though her hate blog continued to get more posts. It probably didn't help that I responded to several of the comments trying to stop the rumors. But that only made matters worse.
On the fourth day, H was back in school. Two of my other friends joined me to confront her as they knew it was way out of hand at this point. But they respected my wishes to speak with her first before going to any teachers. H said I was just jealous and blowing everything out of proportion. And that she was just bored so I shouldn't take it personally since she was apparently going through a rough patch with her boyfriend. My friends and I demanded that she took down the blog on MySpace, and write an apology on her blog. She did one of the two things. And eventually the whispers died down and I did nothing about reporting the blog as it wasn't bothering me anymore. The High School had already moved on to their next topic of interest. And I stopped being friends with H though I still had to deal with her in homeroom until we graduated.
How to Deal with Cyberbullying
Now I did multiple things that were wrong. For starters I shouldn't have responded to any of the messages that were left on the MySpace blog. Though I get a physical copy of the blog, I did nothing with them. I kept them to myself in the event that if H ever tried something like that again, I had something to get her in trouble. But I never told her that or anyone else say for a few friends. Yes my mom knew about it, but she told me just to block the blog and ignore it all together. At the time, I didn't want to block my best friend. But I should've so I wouldn't see the new posts or comments. Another thing I should've done was bring it up to the police. Though cyberbullying was not huge back then and there were no laws against it at the time, it still should've been reported to someone either at our school or with the police as they would've known how to deal with the situation better than I did.
Other things that should be done in the event that you or someone you know are being cyberbullied, more information can also be found at StopBullying.gov:
- Report any cyberbullying to online service providers
- Review the terms and conditions or rights and responsibilities section to see if the content is or is not appropriate.
- Block the user or change settings on who can contact you.
- Report the user so the social media site can take further action against the user. Since they are abusing the terms and conditions you reviewed earlier.
- Report cyberbullying to law enforcement
- Threats of violence
- Sexually explicit messages or photos
- Stalking or hate crimes
Though it's not 100% avoidable there are some things you can do to prevent it.
- Protect your password
- Keep photos PG as these can be used against you in the future if someone was going to cyberbully you.
- Raise awareness
- Set up privacy controls
- Never open messages from people you don't know
- Don't be a cyberbully
- Log out of your accounts on public computers
- Don't talk to strangers online
- Never post personal information
- Don't be gullible
- Don't respond to an angry message with anger it just adds fuel to the fire
- Mae Polzine