Don't be mean behind your screen - Stop cyber bullying & online violence

What is cyber bullying and online violence?

This is any harassment or violence that happens using technology. Mostly, bullies use messengers like WhatsApp, social media platforms, online forums or chat rooms to harass their victims.

Cyber bullying is

  • Intentional : It does not happen by accident and no matter what you say, it is not just a joke.
  • Repeated : It happens again and again.
  • Harmful : Victims are hurt psychologically and physically.

Here are some examples of violent behaviours:

  • Cyber stalking, e.g. obsessively sending, at any time of day, intimidating messages with threats and insults.
  • Impersonation, e.g. secretly taking over a social media profile and posting as that person or making a fake profile of somebody.
  • Outing, e.g. publishing information that somebody shared under pressure or in secret.
  • Sharing somebody’s intimate pictures: If you do this, you are spreading these pictures across the world for everybody to see. In many countries this is actually illegal and will be punished!

Making good decisions online

My girlfriend broke up with me. I am angry and hurt. During my relationship, she shared intimate pictures and it would really hurt her if I share these pictures. What do I do?

Your ex-girlfriend trusted you and shared these pictures with you and only you. Imagine she would share your intimate pictures… Would you be ashamed? Would you feel betrayed?

She deserves better and you are a kinder, more trustworthy person than that. Also, remember, once you share these pictures, you can never take it back and you will never know who else sees them across the world.

I follow a girl I like on Instagram. When I messaged her she didn’t respond. I messaged her again and she told me she is not interested. What do I do?

Rejection feels horrible. But it is also totally normal. It happens to everybody. And even though you are a great person, she has the right to say no to you. Annoying or insulting her will not change her mind.

A good reaction to these messages is to just let it go. If you continue to contact her, you will look bad and she will start feeling stressed out.

Soon, you will meet somebody else who likes you as much as you like them!

My friends are sharing pictures of the girls in my class in a WhatsApp group. They took the pictures without the girls knowing and some of my friends even took pictures under the girls’ skirts. What do I do?

Your friends are being very disrespectful to the girls in your class. They have no right whatsoever to take or share these pictures. In many countries it is even illegal to do what they are doing.

It is really difficult to get friends in trouble or look uncool – but imagine how the girls would feel if they found out what is going on!

If you are afraid of confronting your friends, it is a good idea to reach out to somebody who is older and trusted for support.

I am messaging with somebody I like. He is asking me for some sexy pictures to show that I am interested in him. What do I do?

 Never do anything that you aren’t comfortable with just because somebody is pressuring you. Trust your instincts to tell you whom you can trust.

Remember, once you send a picture, it is out of your control. You will never know if he shows the picture to friends or posts it online…

Don’t trust any apps that promise a picture will be deleted. Even in snapchat, it is possible to take screenshots without a notification.

What does cyber bullying and online violence do?

Victims of cyber bullying feel angry and aggressive. They feel helpless and can have problems sleeping. Experiencing online harassment can cause victims to lose trust in other people and to have low self-esteem. In extreme cases, cyberbullying and online violence can cause suicidal thoughts!

Remember that if you are a target of cyber bullying, this is not your fault. Other people are choosing to hurt you!

What can you do to stop cyber bullying and online violence?

If you witness online harassment – intervene! Tell the bullies to stop and that they are causing serious harm. Don’t act as if it is funny to be mean to people.

You don’t know what to do? Reach out, don’t stay silent. Talk to somebody you trust – this can be your parents, teacher or for example your neighbour.

You know a victim of cyber bullying? Support them! Ask what they need and show them they are not alone. You can gather evidence of what is happening, but you should never respond to the bullies – that might motivate them even more.

Last changed: 18.08.2021