What Can You Do If You're a Victim?

Being cyberbullyied can make you feel helpless, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself and seek help. The most important thing to do is to talk to an adult you trust as soon as you realize there is a problem.

How to react to cyberbullying:

  • Ignore—Dr Sameer Hinduja and Dr. Justin W. Patchin of the Cyberbullying Research Center advise victims not to respond to “minor teasing or name calling” if they can avoid it. Sometimes bullies are encouraged by seeing a reaction.
  • Record—Keep a record of bullying messages you receive—in hard copy. If you can show an adult either the messages themselves or a diary of when you received them, it may be easier to verify what went on and who the bully was.
  • Reach out—Your parents, a favorite teacher, school administrators, counselors, and even police officers can help you deal with cyberbullying. Your state laws or your school’s policies may have rules against cyberbullying that these trusted adults can enlist to help you. It’s also helpful to talk to friends or a counselor so you can get their support when you are feeling upset by hurtful comments. There is no reason to suffer alone when you are the target of bullying.
  • Cut off the bully—The National Crime Prevention Council advises victims to stop all communication with the bully when possible. You may be able to block their phone number so you no longer receive their calls or texts. If that’s not possible, you might consider changing phone numbers. Facebook and instant messenger providers allow you to block other users so that they can no longer interact with you. If for some reason it’s not possible to block a cyberbully, you can always screen their calls and delete their messages without opening them.
  • Go high-tech—If you’re being bullied via a website, chances are that the bully is going against the website’s terms of use. Reporting bullies to the website administrator may get them kicked off the site. The National Crime Prevention Council highlights that on Facebook and Youtube, some of the most popular sites for cyberbullying activity, you can report cyberbullying incidents to the sites’ “safety centers.” The Cyberbullying Research Center also notes that your parents can help by getting in touch with your internet service provider, cell phone service provider, or content provider. In some cases, the providers can look into the bullying incident to uncover an anonymous bully and may also be able to take down offensive posts.

What Not to Do

  • ­Sink to the bully’s level. Starting your own cyberbullying campaign against the bully will get you nowhere, especially if you end up breaking state laws or school rules.
  • Forward bullying content or messages. If someone sends you a bullying message, forwarding it to a friend only expands the problem. You never know how far an email chain can go.
  • Believe the bully. Don’t let bullies destroy your self-esteem. No one deserves to be harassed. Cyberbullies’ cowardly and destructive actions are often more about their own problems than they are about you. When bullying gets you down, talk about it with someone you trust who can build you back up.