Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. It can occur through SMS, text, and apps, or online in social media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share content. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation. Some cyberbullying crosses the line into unlawful or criminal behavior.

The most common places where cyberbullying occurs are social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. It can also occur through text message, email, or in mobile apps. The content an individual shares online, both their personal content as well as any negative, mean, or hurtful content, creates a kind of permanent public record of their views, activities, and behavior. This public record can be thought of as an online reputation, which may be accessible to schools, employers, colleges, clubs, and others who may be researching an individual now or in the future.

Types of Cyberbullying

There are many ways of cyberbullying. Each type and method is harmful and can leave lasting effects on the victim. It is important to understand how each type works in order to recognize it if it occurs and to take steps to prevent it.

Harassment is a common type of bullying. This is when the bully sends offensive and malicious messages to an individual or a group and uses online platforms to make hurtful comments or rumors about someone. The bully often repeats this behavior over time to make the victim feel threatened or scared.

Outing and Trickery

Outing is a form of cyberbullying where the bully shares personal and private information about a person without their consent for the purpose of humiliation. Trickery, on the other hand, is when the bully tricks the victim into revealing personal information and then shares it with others.

Outing and trickery can be very damaging because they involve a breach of trust and can lead to embarrassment and humiliation.


Cyberstalking is a more severe form of cyberbullying that involves harassment and humiliation, but it also includes threats of physical harm. This can cause the victim to fear for their safety and can lead to psychological trauma.

Cyberstalkers often use social media, websites, and email to stalk their victims. They may also use GPS tracking devices and spyware.

Effects of Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying has many effects on victims, and they are all negative. These effects can be physical, mental, and emotional. Cyberbullying can lead to low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, poor grades, and even suicidal thoughts.

Victims of cyberbullying often feel overwhelmed, vulnerable, and powerless. This can lead to a variety of emotional responses, including fear, frustration, anger, and sadness. In some cases, the effects of cyberbullying can be so severe that victims have committed suicide.

Physical Effects

While cyberbullying does not involve physical harm, it can still lead to physical effects. For example, the stress from being cyberbullied can lead to physical health problems like headaches, stomachaches, and sleep problems.

Victims of cyberbullying may also change their eating habits, either eating more or less than usual. They may also start to avoid social situations, which can lead to isolation and loneliness.

Mental and Emotional Effects

The mental and emotional effects of cyberbullying can be devastating. Victims may experience depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and a loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed.

They may also have difficulty concentrating, which can lead to poor performance in school. In severe cases, victims may have suicidal thoughts.

Prevention of Cyberbullying

Preventing cyberbullying begins with understanding it. By understanding what cyberbullying is and how it works, we can prepare ourselves and our children to respond appropriately if it occurs.

There are several strategies that can help prevent cyberbullying. These include educating ourselves and our children about the dangers of cyberbullying, monitoring our children’s online activities, and encouraging our children to speak up if they or someone they know is being cyberbullied.


Education is a powerful tool in the prevention of cyberbullying. By educating ourselves and our children about what cyberbullying is and how it works, we can help them understand the consequences of their actions and encourage them to make better choices online.

We can also teach our children about the importance of online etiquette, or “netiquette”. This includes respecting others’ privacy online, not sharing personal information without consent, and not participating in online activities that can harm others.


Monitoring our children’s online activities can also help prevent cyberbullying. This can be done through parental controls, checking browser history, and keeping computers and other devices in a common area where they can be easily monitored.

While it’s important to respect our children’s privacy, it’s also our responsibility as parents to ensure their safety. Therefore, it’s important to have open and honest discussions with our children about why we’re monitoring their activities and what we’re looking for.

Responding to Cyberbullying

If you or someone you know is a victim of cyberbullying, it’s important to know how to respond. Responding to cyberbullying can be difficult, especially if the bully is anonymous or if the bullying is happening on a platform that you’re not familiar with.

However, there are several steps you can take to respond to cyberbullying effectively. These include not responding to the bully, blocking the bully, reporting the bully to the platform, saving evidence of the bullying, and reporting the bullying to law enforcement if necessary.

Don’t Respond

One of the most important things to remember when dealing with cyberbullying is not to respond to the bully. Responding can encourage the bully and can make the situation worse.

Instead, it’s best to ignore the bully and to focus on supporting the victim. This can include offering kind words, advice, and resources to the victim.

Block the Bully

Another important step in responding to cyberbullying is to block the bully. Most social media platforms and email providers offer a way to block users who are being abusive.

By blocking the bully, you can prevent them from contacting the victim and from seeing the victim’s online activity. This can help protect the victim from further harassment and can give them a sense of control over the situation.

Legal Consequences of Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying can have serious legal consequences. In many jurisdictions, cyberbullying is considered a crime and can result in criminal charges. Additionally, schools and other organizations may have policies in place that punish cyberbullying.

It’s important to understand the laws and policies in your area so that you can respond appropriately if you or someone you know is a victim of cyberbullying.

Legal Consequences for the Bully

Depending on the nature and severity of the cyberbullying, the bully may face criminal charges such as harassment, stalking, and identity theft. If convicted, the bully could face penalties such as fines, probation, and even jail time.

In addition to criminal charges, the bully may also face civil lawsuits from the victim or the victim’s family. These lawsuits can result in monetary damages that the bully is required to pay.

Legal Consequences for Schools and Other Organizations

Schools and other organizations that fail to address cyberbullying may also face legal consequences. For example, if a school is aware of cyberbullying and fails to take action, it may be held liable for any harm that results.

Therefore, it’s important for schools and other organizations to have policies in place to address cyberbullying and to take swift action when it occurs.

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