Coping with the Effects of Cyberbullying

Being insulted or humiliated is never fun. It often leaves the victim feeling helpless and alone. In cases of cyberbullying, it can be more difficult since the victim doesn’t always know who their attacker is. If you are being cyberbullied, pretending that you are fine when you are not will just make you feel worse, so be honest with yourself. It is important to remember that you have more power than you know, and that you can take steps to deal with how cyberbullying is affecting you.

  1. It’s okay to be angry, but channel itBeing cyberbullied can cause intense feelings of anger for several reasons. You may feel violated, and might think there is nothing you can do about it, or you may feel badly about yourself because a person has embarrassed you in some way. Anger is a normal reaction to feeling like we have been wronged. However, anger can become consuming and excessive. As a result, it can make you irritable with people you care about or not able to focus on things that are important. If you are too angry, you may take out your feelings on someone else to mask your emotions and create an illusion of power. (This makes you a bully!) Take control before your anger controls you.
  2. Empower yourselfBeing angry or sad can result from feeling like you’ve lost control. But remember that there is always something you can do to make things better. Take steps to empower yourself: Consider reporting the offence, and try not to give the bully the satisfaction of a reaction (because they want to know that they have made you feel bad). Why not get involved in an anti-bullying awareness campaign? Helping bring about positive change is one of the most effective ways of gaining control.
  3. Get to know why people bullyUnderstanding why people bully can also help you feel empowered. If you know that bullies tend to be unhappy at home, have aggressive personality types, and may suffer from low self-esteem, you might realize that your bully isn’t really all that tough. Insulting and humiliating someone is not a sign of strength, but a sign of cowardice.
  4. Increase the positivity in your life to counteract the negativeSurround yourself with people who love you, indulge in a good book, watch your favourite movie, listen to happy music, play a sport—in short, make time to do the things that you are good at. And stay in touch with the people and things that remind you of the things you like about yourself.
  5. Talk to someoneIt is very important that you tell someone about what is going on. If you aren’t comfortable talking to a parent or your teacher, talk to a friend, sibling, or even contact a helpline. We all need help dealing with life from time to time, and being able to lean on someone goes a long way to making a bad situation easier to deal with. Speaking with a school counsellor can also help you with any sadness, anxiety, or anger you have about being bullied. If they become aware that bullying is going on at the school, they can take steps to work with the principal and teachers, and develop new or better anti-bullying rules.

As media becomes more social, more and more people will feel the effects of cyberbullying. If you are a victim of cyberbullying, just remember you are not alone and you shouldn’t deal with it alone.

 

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References

(Last reviewed January 24, 2014)

  1. Bully Free Alberta. (2005). Cyberbullying. Retrieved from http://www.bullyfreealberta.ca/cyber_bullying.htm#6.
  2. Canadian Mental Health Association. (2013). Anger. Retrieved from http://www.cmha.ca/mental-health/your-mental-health/anger.
  3. Kids Help Phone. (2013). Ask us online. Retrieved from http://www.kidshelpphone.ca/Teens/AskUsOnline.aspx.
  4. Ortega, R., Elipe, P., Mora-Merchán, J.A., Genta, M.L., Brighi, A., Guarini, A., . . . Tippett, N. (2012). The emotional impact of bullying and cyberbullying on victims: A European cross-national study. Aggressive Behavior, 38(5), 342–356.
  5. Renati, R., Berrone, C., & Zanetti, M.A. (2012). Morally disengaged and unempathic: Do cyberbullies fit these definitions? An exploratory study. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 15(8), 391–398.
  6. Sourander, A., Brunstein Klomek, A., Ikonen, M., Lindroos, J., Luntamo, T., Koskelainen, M., . . . Helenius, H. (2010). Psychosocial risk factors associated with cyberbullying among adolescents: A population-based study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 67(7), 720–728.
  7. Stop a Bully. (2013). Incident report. Retrieved from https://secure.stopabully.ca/bully-report.
  8. Stop a Bully. (2012). Stop a Bully: Canada’s anti-bullying reporting program. Retrieved from http://www.stopabully.ca.

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