Although the actual act of cyberbullying is not a crime there are other laws that can tackle these cruel cyberattacks that can cause mental anguish to young children and teenagers and adults, costing the UK economy £2bn every year due to loss of productivity and sick pay leave.
Rather than wait for it to reach the stage of having the offender persecuted, there are ways to nip this abhorrent behaviour in the bud.
Don’t take the bait
Don’t respond to teasing or online name calling. If this is via text, block the sender and if it is on a social media platform like Facebook or Instagram unfriend them or block them as a follower. If they find other ways of communicating with you such as texts and voicemail, delete the texts, don’t open them and delete the voicemail without listening to it.
Instagram is where most young people will experience cyberbullying. A recent survey found that 42 per cent of those surveyed experienced harassment via Instagram. Cyberbullying is often a symptom of someone looking for attention, even if it’s negative.
Keep the proof, save the evidence
As easy as bullying has become thanks to cyberspace, it is also easier to prove that you have been a victim of bullying. Record all the acrimonious activity by taking screenshots of the abuse you receive. Young children and teenagers should take this evidence to their parents or teachers immediately. If you are being bullied by an ex or a co-worker, this evidence is vital if you have to take it down the prosecution route.
Don’t suffer in silence
It doesn’t matter how old you are, cyberbullying can have a devastating effect on your mental health and you shouldn’t keep this anxiety to yourself. There are online support groups for victims of cyberbullying. Choose one that is right for you and many offer one-to-one advice. Confide in a parent, teacher, friend, co-worker or immediate boss. Schools have rules against cyberbullying and the Health and Safety Act protects employees from being bullied. www.dosomething.org is an international online support service that gives you advice on how to deal with cyberbullying.
Don’t get gaslighted
Gaslighting is common type of bullying, often done online through an intranet in a place of work. It is when someone or a group of people gang up against the victim with the deliberate intent to control and manipulate them.
Persistent negative public comment, especially online, is a form of gaslighting where a group of an individual embarks on a smear campaign usually through social media or via internal group emails. These proclamations are often based on lies or exaggerations of the truth and is aimed at damaging your credibility or personal reputation.
Use websites’ safety centres
If the bullying is taking place via a website the perpetrator is going against the site’s terms and conditions. You should report the bully to the website administrator and if the proof is there, they will be expelled from the site. Many sites have safety centres where you can go and report any incident of bullying. The administrators will be able to take down the offensive posts and if the bully is anonymous, they will be able to uncover their real identity.