In the fight against cyberbullying, there are ways that cyberbullying victims as well as everyday citizens can reclaim the web for civility. Though it may not seem like it at times, most people do not appreciate bullies, and it is the bully, not the victim, who should be ashamed by what is posted. Here are some ways to restore social order to the web and fight back against bullying on the Internet:
1. Expose cyberbullying for what it is
Fight back, the right way! If a slanderous message was posted in a public forum, post another message yourself:
“We hope that everyone reading the message posted by (the bully) is smart enough to recognize it for the shameless bullying it is, and we would encourage those who are disgusted by cyber-bullies and flamers to post their own comments telling this person how much you appreciate their cruel behavior. If you’re against web-bullying, please make a stand.”
Not only does this turn the bully’s message against them, but you can share any responses you receive with your child. It’s a great way to help them realize that there are people on their side, too. Just because one person posts something slanderous that doesn’t mean the rest of the world believes it, and it certainly doesn’t mean they side with the bully.
2. Go on the offensive to shame your cyberbully
When one 15-year-old got fed up with bullies, he made a short YouTube video about his life. It eventually became an Internet sensation, and he was invited on several television talk shows. While such fame is an unlikely outcome in most cases, there are outlets where your child can express themselves and shame bullies for their own actions. Be sure not to get slanderous yourself, which would be counterproductive. But you can post a video or message about the bully’s tactics as part of a well-thought out response. Talk about what sort of life a person must have who feels a need to spend their time inciting hatred against others, and explain how you’re taking the high road. Show your bully the public spotlight can work both ways.
3. Gang up against bullies
If your child is being bullied in a chat room or other interactive forum, flood the room with family, friends, or other supporters of your child who will shame the bully for their actions. Don’t get slanderous, mean, or nasty about it yourself (not only is being mean to the bully in return morally wrong, it could escalate the situation), but make it clear what you think about their actions. Bullies tend to operate under the silence of the crowd. When you change that dynamic and the crowd suddenly puts up a resistance, it can give them second thoughts about their actions. Friends and family don’t have to identify themselves as such, you just need a group of people rallying against the bullies actions. If the web doesn’t provide this on its own, make it happen.
4. Take a stand yourself!
Most of all, take a stand against cyberbullying yourself whenever your see it. If someone is posting hurtful messages about someone else on the web, say something. It doesn’t matter if it’s a complete stranger. When any person is being attacked by a group of people, it can mean the world to them just to know that someone is on their side and that the whole world doesn’t hate them. Bullies can’t bully on their own. They need the uninvolved others to remain silent in order to commit their dirty deeds. As citizens, let’s start taking that away from them.