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  • Writer's pictureJolandé Heppell

Cyberbullying - What it is & How to Respond.

October was National Bullying Prevention Month in the United States, but the end of October doesn’t mark the end of the conversation. To keep the conversation going, I’m going to share a personal story about bullying.

“In the cyber world, bullies have a wall to hide behind so they say things that they probably wouldn’t say otherwise. It’s because they are unhappy with something about themselves so they lash out in an anonymous way.” — Nina Dobrev

This is how I have always thought about cyber bullies — as strangers behind the veil of anonymity. Which is why, when I was attacked on Facebook by someone I know, I didn’t immediately label it bullying. At first, it just felt like a personal jab.

However, it continued both publicly and in my email inbox and as I vented to a friend she brought up the phrase “cyberbully,” and I realized she is correct.

Unfortunately, as a result of these blog posts, I am facing a bully.

The story you are reading is not what I intended to share for November, but life doesn’t always happen as we expect. Along your path, you will face adversity from strangers and people you know. Adversity gives us an opportunity to define who we intend to be and who we know we are.

At some point in my life I was less educated (weren’t we all), less confident, and less self-aware. I am no longer those things. I am no longer a wallflower.

I intend to be a coach that lives by example and shares her story honestly. Therefore, we’re going to dive into this unexpected twist and educate ourselves about bullying together:

1. What is cyberbullying:

According to StopBullying.Gov “Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Cyberbullying 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.”

2. How can you respond:

While there are many ways to respond to a situation of bullying the most important is to protect your emotional and physical state and get help. My five favorite tips are listed below. You can find more at Top 10 Steps to Respond to Cyberbullying on Huffpost.

  1. Stay Calm

  2. Disengage

  3. Print out or screen shot evidence

  4. Block the bully

  5. Report the bullying on the network it occurred

The differences between cyberbullying and traditional bullying are limited to whether the bullying occurs virtually or not. However, the emotional impact of any type bullying is the same. Fortunately, cyberbullying offers victims one measure of protection that traditional bullying did not: the opportunity to save evidence. Do it.

When a bully attacks you remember that you are not alone. The attack is not about you. It is about the person attacking. That person is struggling. The bully is grabbing on to you to pull you down because they cannot figure out how to rise.

Stand tall, keep the words of the bully out of your head, look into the mirror and say, “I intend to be someone that loves herself, and even if I am not doing that perfectly I will continue to try. I will not let the bully win.”

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