General approaches to Bullying
These are some of the ways to support your friend:
- Encourage them to ignore the behaviour (bullies love to see a response whether it be tears or anger so encourage your friend not to give it to them)
- Sometimes the bully does not realise they are behaving offensively, so your friend may be able to tell them.
- Protect your friend from the bully
- If approaching the bully and asking them to stop hasn’t helped then you might like to think about reporting the behaviour, or encourage your friend to seek more formal assistance.
You can talk to the bully about their behaviour. The bully may be your friend or their victim might be your friend, either way tell them they are behaving in an inappropriate manner to the other person.
Ask them “what is it that bugs you about [person’s name]?” Sometimes the bully’s own insecurity is related to the reason why they are picking on someone else. You could ask them, “How do you think they feel about the way you are behaving towards them?” (See tips for asking questions. Often the bullies have some underlying issues that can be explored. Remember that ‘why’ questions don’t normally get you good information).
Specific approaches to Cyberbullying
- Help your friend to NOT respond to nasty emails, chats, SMS etc – this is what the person wants!
- If your friend is being harassed on a social networking site, have them block the person.
- Most websites and applications have a ‘report abuse’ button. Help your friend to use this and the site will have to investigate.
- If unwanted contact continues, you can suggest to your friend that they consider deleting emails and social networking accounts and start new accounts and be careful who they give access to.
- If your friend is getting harassed on the phone, help them arrange a new telephone number – report the problem to the telco (your mobile phone provider) and insist that they change the number for free.
- If your friend is still getting harassed then discuss with them the possibility of reporting it to the police. They don’t have to put up with it.
- You can also obtain lots of information on the web about what can be done. Try typing in ‘stopping cyberbullying’, ‘cyber safety’, ‘blocking unwanted phone calls’ etc into a search engine.
- If you have come into contact with information/pictures of your friend that are unwanted then let them know what has happened and discuss ways of dealing with it.
- It is a good idea to document the bullying by collecting the evidence. Suggest to your friend that they save all the offending messages (or even forward the offending messages to a safe person to store them as the person being bullied may not want to keep any of the offending material). In persistent cases it may be necessary to show evidence of the bullying so that it can be stopped.
Block Phone Calls
Create a profile on your phone and personalise it to allow all calls but that one caller. Note that this won’t work if they don’t display their number. If you are still being harassed get your telco to block the number for you.
The best way of dealing with this problem is to prevent it. Easy to say in hindsight!
- Nothing is private online
- Everything online is recorded forever
- Anyone can be anyone when they are online (you might think you are sending your message to someone your own age but it could be anyone)
- The laws in countries vary but for example, in Australia it is illegal to have nude/explicit photos of people under 18 years of age