Cyber-bullying involves the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated and hostile behaviour by an individual or group that is intended to harm others.
The volume of information and communication exchanged between people has increased greatly because of the increase of use of the Internet, email, chat rooms, discussion groups, cell phone use and text messaging.
The widespread membership and use of websites like: MySpace, Facebook, Meebo, MSN and Twitter are popular for creating online profiles that allow users to hide behind aliases and online personas. YouTube is a similar site dedicated to hosting video clips. Cyberbullying has become prevalent because technology allows bullies to deliver their taunts or threats without a true identity.
Centennial College and Cyberbullying
At Centennial College cyber-bullying is addressed under the Violence Prevention Policy.
Any member who uses his or her authority or influence in a way that is unfair OR any member who engages in any vexatious behaviour in the form of repeated and hostile or unwanted conduct, verbal comments, actions or gestures that affects a person's dignity or psychological or physical integrity and that results in a harmful working or learning environment. Examples of personal harassment include: delaying, withdrawing, unfairly granting entitlements or reprisals for seeking dispute resolution and may be made by word, gesture, electronic messages (including but not limited to telephone, voicemail, fax, email, etc) innuendoes, graffiti, signs, pictures or other acts.”
Am I being Cyber-bullied?
Deliberate, repeated and hostile or threatening online behaviour can lead to more dangerous personal and physical threats. Review the following boxes to determine if you may be a target of cyberbullying:
- Violent language.
- Direct insults (“You are stupid!”)
- Threats to create fear (“I know where you live!”)
- Threat to bodily harm. (“I’m going to beat you up!”)
- General serious threat. (“There is a bomb in the school!” or “Don’t take the school bus today!”)
- Direct threat to serious bodily harm or death (“I am going to break your legs!” or “I am going to kill you!”)
- It is a one-time communication?
- Is the threat repeated in the same or different ways?
- Are the communications increasing?
- Are other people joining in and delivering threats?
- Repeated emails or instant messages.
- Posting real or doctored images of you online.
- Sharing personal or intimate information about you.
- Sharing your contact information.
- Copying others on your private email and other communications.
- Posting and encouraging others to post nasty comments about you.
- Building fake profiles using your online information.
- Sending threats to others or attacking others while posing as you.
- Falsely using your identity for any purpose.
If you are being cyber-bullied…
- Do not reply to the cyber-bully. This intimidation is a game for them and they can’t play the game if you don’t participate.
- Do not delete the threatening messages. You don’t need to review them but keep them as evidence.
- Do not erase or delete messages from cyberbullies -You don't have to read it, but keep it, it is your evidence. You may unfortunately get similar messages again, perhaps from other accounts. The police and your Internet Service Provider (ISP), and/or your telephone company can use these messages to help you. You might notice certain words or phrases that are also used by people you know. These messages may reveal certain clues as to who is doing this to you, but don't try and solve this on your own, remember, tell someone you know and trust.
- Do not keep this to yourself! You are NOT alone and you did NOT do anything to deserve this! Tell someone you know and trust.
- Name the behaviour and tell them to stop,
- Do report the cyber-bullying to the appropriate authorities. Cyber-bullying is not something you want to ignore. It is your responsibility to report this behaviour so the perpetrators can be dealt with, to protect yourself and other potential victims. For more information refer to the Get Help Now section.
- Do report cyber-bullying to your Internet, instant messaging or mobile phone provider. It is important to establish that incidents of cyber-bullying are taking place and have it recorded as a complaint. While action on the issue may be slow, the issue will be taken more seriously if there are repeated complaints about the same person.
- Do report cyber-bullying to the local police. Let the police know what is happening. Depending on the actions taken by the cyber-bully they may have crossed the line and broken the law. Be sure to provide the police with as much information as you can. They can then contact the cyber-bully's ISP (Internet Service Provider) and track them down.
- Don't reply to messages from cyberbullies - even though you may really want to, this is exactly what cyberbullies want. They want to know that they've got you worried and upset. They are trying to mess with your mind and control you, to put fear into you. Don't give them that pleasure.
- You may need to delete your current e-mail accounts, cell phone/pager accounts and set up new ones. If your cyberbullying problems persist, it is recommended that you do this as soon as possible, unless you are working with the police and your Telecommunications Provider to keep the account(s) active to try and catch the cyber bully.
Never give out personal information. This includes your name, name of friends or family members, your address, phone number, passwords, P.I.N numbers, just to name a few. Pictures are particularly risky to share because they can easily be copied and posted elsewhere.
Trust your instincts and don’t believe everything you see or read.
Do not arrange to meet someone you have met online. Should you decide to meet, ensure you meet in a public place and either take someone trust worthy with you or at least ensure a responsible friend or family member is aware. Always protect yourself.
Watch your language. The language made up of thousands of online short forms, acronyms and emoticons can deliver a quick message, but they can also pack a punch. For example: “You are a CWOT,” is easily typed. But consider, would you say, “You are a complete waste of time,” in a face-to-face discussion?
Don’t send a message to someone when you are angry. Your anger will inevitably be conveyed in the tone of your message and you will probably say some things that you will regret and cannot take back after you’ve pressed ‘send’.
Don’t open a message from someone you don’t know. This is particularly risky and could lead to the spread of viruses on your computer.
Use “Netiquette”. Be polite to others online just as you would off-line. If someone treats you rudely or meanly—do not respond. Cyber-bullies are just like off-line ones, they WANT you to answer, so don’t give them the satisfaction. The general advice to address bullying is to identify the behaviour, tell them to stop, then stop responding and report the behaviour.
Disconnect and distance yourself from your virtual reality. Recognize that online communication is very addictive and a healthy break keeps you in touch with your ‘real-life’ interpersonal skills.
Are you a cyber-bully or do you know someone who is?
Take the cyberbullying.org test and find out how you rate.
Where to get support
- If you are a student or staff at Centennial College and feel threatened by a cyberbully please go to Get Help Now.
- Employees may seek advise/support from Security, their Supervisor or Manager, Union Representative or Human Resources Consultant.