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Family Safety Cyberbullying Family Safety


The internet can be a great resource. It can entertain and educate, often at the same time. It’s a valuable tool for study and a handy way to keep in touch with friends and family.

Unfortunately, use of the internet also comes with risks like predators, hackers, thieves, and bullies. Cyberbullying has emerged as a prevalent and persistent online threat, affecting adults just as much as children. Bullying isn’t new, but the ways that people go about doing it has evolved. Online platforms can offer bullies a level of anonymity and give them a larger audience. If you or your child has experienced feelings of humiliation, being ignored, or being the subject of online gossip, you may be a victim of cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying, and bullying in general, can make you feel hurt, depressed, anxious, and withdrawn. The comments can lead to self-esteem issues that can impact how you see yourself and how you think others see you. When the rude comments are on the internet, it can feel like they are following you everywhere because you are online at work, at school, and at home. It can feel like no place is truly safe.

There are several steps you can take to deal with cyberbullies:

Do not respond.
Responding gives your bully what they want; bullies need to know that they are bothering you and getting under your skin. Not responding denies them their goal. Additionally, responding in kind may make matters worse or may make you look like the bully to onlookers.

Document what is happening.
If someone is making mean, threatening, or degrading comments, take screenshots or save the messages. Learn how to take screenshots on your devices or preserve messages. This is an important consideration just in case your bully uses an app or service that has disappearing content (such as Snapchat). If the bully’s behavior escalates to the point of needing to contact authorities, picture evidence and saved messages will be invaluable.

Report and block.
Many websites and social media platforms have a report feature that you can use to flag offensive content. If a comment violates the site’s Terms of Use (rules set forth by the company on what a user can and can’t do on a site), they might elect to remove it. If a person or a page continues to harass you, you can block them which will make them unable to contact you again.

Do not suffer alone.
Talk to someone about what you’re going through. Reach out to your spouse, a clergyperson, or a trusted friend. Children should reach out to their parents, a guardian, or a trusted adult. If bullying comments are threatening, disturbing, or graphic, reach out to local law enforcement for guidance.

Do not join in.
If you see someone bullying someone else, don’t join in. That would make you a bully, too. Being an accomplice to bullying is wrong and can get you into as much trouble as the person who started the bullying. If someone you know is bullying, reach out to them and tell them to stop or you will distance yourself from them. Bullies may stop when their behavior begins to cost them socially, as it helps them see the cost of their bullying behavior.

Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act
Florida Statute 1006.147, also known as the Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act, prohibits bullying and harassment of any student or employee of a public K-12 education institution. The law substantially expanded the school system’s power to combat bullying and harassment. It defined “harassment” as any threatening, insulting, or dehumanizing gesture, use of data or computer software, or written, verbal, or physical conduct directed against a student or school employee that:
  • Places a student or school employee in reasonable fear of harm to his or her person or damage to his or her property;
  • Has the effect of substantially interfering with a student’s educational performance, opportunities, or benefits; or
  • Has the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of a school.

Although the law applies mainly to publicly funded K-12 organizations, many private schools have similar policies. If your child attends a private school, check with the administration to see what their bullying policy is.