Bullying Is Everybody's Business

Learn the complex system that underlies a cyberbullying situation. By Liz Perle
Topics: Cyberbullying
Bullying Is Everybody's Business

Until recently, parents, teachers, and news accounts have focused on the relationship between a bully and his or her target. But experts say that there are usually more kids involved in a cyberbullying scenario, making it a much more complex organism than previously thought. In fact, one of the side effects of how public bullying has become is that potentially everyone in the bully's circle of friends -- both online and off-line -- may be involved.

Identifying the different roles in a cyberbullying situation can help you to help your kid develop self-awareness and a sense of empathy. These skills will go a long way toward cultivating an online culture of respect and responsibility.

First, there's the cyberbully, the aggressor who's using digital media tools (such as the Internet and cell phone) to deliberately upset or harass their target -- the person who's being cyberbullied. Then there are the bystanders, the kids who are aware that something cruel is going on but who stay on the sidelines (either out of indifference or because they're afraid of being socially isolated or of becoming a target themselves). But there are also kids who act as upstanders. These are the kids who actively try to break the cycle, whether by sticking up for the target, addressing the bully directly, or notifying the appropriate authorities about what's going on.

Kids may play different roles at different times. Your advice to your child will differ depending on the situation and the specific role your child is playing in whatever bullying or drama is going on.

By making kids aware that a safe world is everyone's responsibility, we empower them to take positive actions -- like reporting a bully, flagging a cruel online comment, or not forwarding a humiliating photo -- that ultimately can put a stop to an escalating episode of cruelty. (Get more tips on exactly what to do if your kid is cyberbullied, and learn how other parents are taking action.)

About Liz Perle

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Liz is Common Sense Media's intrepid editor in chief -- read all about her here. Google+ Read more

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Comments (28)

Adult written by Stand

First, you must understand the nature of the personality you are dealing with. You can find tons of coping information on youtube under narcissism. It may help to change your perspective as the victim of bullying when you realize the bully is coming from a place of insecurity and weakness. Projecting that weakness onto you makes you the target. It's not personal. The bully will not take responsibility for improving their perceived shortcomings and in turn blames others for why they are miserable. Common traits that bullies lack and target in others are honesty, intellectualism, creativity, independent thought, empathy, attractiveness, confidence, self-esteem , generosity, alternative lifestyle, high achiever, shyness, sense of fairness. Any of these qualities can be seen a s a threat by a person or group bound by lack of these positive traits. The goal of the bully is to isolate and alienate you from positive reinforcement because the bully also feels isolated from these characteristics. They lack traits they see as human. The narcissist's brain is wired in a way that lacks empathy, demands control and sees others as the source of their problems. They are predatory in nature and seek to destroy those with traits they lack. Narcissists crave attention positive or negative, so ignoring them in person is futile. Direct confrontation increases problems since their internal dialogue is "how dare you". The narcissist fears exposure and that is your weapon, if you know what they are doing to sabotage you and can prove it in a real life scenario. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people is an excellent deterrent to real-life bullying. Online, respond in a positive manner the first time you are bullied then adopt a no contact policy with cyberbullies. Example: "you really suck at this game" Response: " I play it often to get better at it" . If they respond in a negative way, save the bullying communication and report them to the webmaster if they persist. Webmasters and site administrators appreciate knowing about trolls and bullies to block them from the site because bullying is against the law.
Adult written by dkrizinski

Cyberbullying is becoming more and more prevalent in today's social media where children are involved. As stated above there is usually more than two player involved as well. We do tend to think of the bully and the bullied...however; there are more than those two usually involved and when it comes to this, those others involved as the bystanders are just as much a part of the bullying as the person actually doing the bullying themselves. This got me to thinking about a recent academic endeavor that we have been involved in for a class that I am working on. Within it right now we are discussing groupthink. That is, " group members try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically analyzing and evaluating alternatives." (Phillips & Gully, 2014, pg 305) Now as children most of them do not realize that they have delved into this groupthink modality; however, it is prevalent in cyber bullying as the rest of the bystanders do not want to look weak to the others or be involved in actually being the bully's next target as well. They all gang up on the perceived "weak" one and target them instead, and without thinking of the consequences or evaluating what alternative to doing so might help to keep this from happening. All too often we see kids involved in this and we must take control to stop it. Cyber bullying is becoming one of the worst epidemics on record and the only way to stop it now is to try to get it at its source. If you have children it is your responsibility now to monitor what they are doing online, both through computers and through other electronic devices connected to the web. We as parents have to start making sure that we are involved in their lives and know what our children are doing and exactly what they are involved in online. This may seem like intrusion to them, but in the long run we may stop bullying before it starts or we may even save a life from being taken far too soon because of being bullied so badly that the child thinks the only thing to do is to take their life. I implore everyone that reads this and has children to try to be involved in their activities and to make sure they know what they are doing with online discussions and forums that they may be involved in. Remember that it is up to us now to take care of our children both in the real world and online as well. Phillips, Jean M. and Gully, Stanley M. 2014. Organizational Behavior Tools for Success (2nd ed). Mason, OH: South-Western, Cengage Learning
Adult written by Deanguy

First of all, I truly am sorry for all of the children that are being bullied in school. I am a dean in a public school and my number one priority is to prevent bullying. Most victims think that the situation will get worse if they tell someone, but if they get bullied on a daily basis that may be too emotionally painful. If you are getting bullied, TELL YOUR PARENTS AND TEACHERS IMMEDIATELY. Many bullying scenarios can be solved successfully if teachers, administration, and parents work together. If it's a gang issue, it is more complicated, but there's always a way.
Kid, 11 years old

I am a sixth grade girl. I myself are bullied. I have been called several words out of the book. Please do tell parents, teachers, or guardians if you are being bullied. Now bullying is getting words. Take a stand. Speak up. Words can kill. Stop bullying. Maybe someday this world will learn to cooperate.
Adult written by Arizona's Zeus

It fails me to try and understand WHY these kids don't just BLOCK the BS, and continue to interact with these bullies when they have the option to quit the conversation? Is it curiosity that continues to drive them to interact with these psychos or self loathing? THEY HAVE THE CHOICE TO NOT INTERACT WITH THESE "PEOPLE". WHY NOT MAKE THE RIGHT ONE? I realize you cannot avoid it at school, except when it starts, go get help. DON'T get yourself in a situation where the bullies have the upper hand. Most people are SMARTER than the bullies. DOesn't take much brainpower to outsmart them. IF you want to really avoid the issues, BUT, there are those kids who just want to keep in good with the kids they are hanging out with, hmmmmm, gotta wonder about their coping mechanisms taught at home.....
Adult written by IStopBullies

The best way to stop a bully is to strap on some balls and stand up to the bully. And if the problem is too big to handle by yourself that's when you go get a parent or teacher
Teen, 13 years old written by Turtlelover70

If any bullies are reading this , PLEASE stop being mean . It hurts people's feelings and earns you a terrible reputation ! Plus , your gonna get caught someday, why not avoid that and be nice!
Teen, 13 years old written by Turtlelover70

I have been bullied online in a video game and he was saying really mean stuff to me then somebody steped in and started helping me then other people saw and joined the group and we were able to get rid of him .AWAYS HELP PEOPLE when they are bullied onlined
Teen, 13 years old written by Turtlelover70

Well it is good to ignore the insults but you have to tell because even if the bully gets back at you tell again . You need to show the bully that your not the guy to pick on
Teen, 13 years old written by Strategist101

I find that bullying, though a tough problem, can be stopped. Although peaceful responses are the best answer to it, if they start swinging, my logic is "They Swing, You Block" or "They Start It, You Finish It," I think negotiation is the best answer, but sometimes people don't listen to words. I don't support the use of violence as an offensive procedure, only as defense.
Kid, 12 years old

If you're getting bullied every day, don't just just let it side speak your mind. You have a mouth, open it and say how you feel. And if it doesn't stop go to your mom. Don't just ignore say something.
Teen, 13 years old written by SockyChibi<3

I've been bullied, still am, all because I have Asperger's Syndrome. I still talk, walk, and act normally, but I've been called the cruellest of names, hurt, and threatened. This ugly girl told a guy I liked that I wanted to have sex with him, which wasn't true, and he avoided me for months! I got called ugly, fat, slut, a**hole, b**ch, fata**, retarded, etc. and THIS WOULDN'T STOP!!! So, I suggest that if you have a child who's being bullied, encourage them to talk to you, because holding something in would only hurt them.
Kid, 10 years old

I have a friend and she was cyberbullied. The bully sent harrassing emails and most of my friends were upstanders. They asked her if there was something wrong and if the bully had a problem with our friend and she cussed. The victim knows the person in real life and to make matters worse she knows her very very well. We told her to ask her parents but I don't know how they responded.
Teen, 14 years old written by BeABuddyNotABully

i dont know what to do i need help!! theres a girl name huter at my school he vocies is like a frogish deepish vocie she has a bad hair cut cant get fix not best chothes and think a know it all tho she doesnt i feel bad when she gets teased and im her friend kinda i see people make fun i laugh and say things :( she look at me like what are u she came to my house told people and i got mad i need some tips to what to do THX
Teen, 13 years old written by smartkitty

to BeABuddyNotABully- try standing up for her. say something like " your being mean, please stop." and be nice her. it realy helps people who are being bullied to have someone being nice to them. and if that dosen't work tell a teacher anoimisly
Kid, 10 years old

She should have a adult she can trust. Try writing down what the bully says. Then show it to the trustworthy person. I hoped my advice helped ∞MS∞ Please note this is a reply to BeABuddyNotABully.
Kid, 10 years old

I think people are bullying her. Did you try asking a adult you trust? If you get mad, try making your emotions into art or dancing or whatever you want. This may not be the best advice but I hope some of it helps. ~ ∞MS∞ Sorry I made a clone on the reply below...I guess BeABuddyNotABully has two replys now...
Kid, 11 years old

My name is Cristian Marquez and at school i used to get bulled a lot acually i got a big bruise on my arm by the person that was bullying me and i would go home crying everyday because they made me feel so bad about myself and so weird. I could never put those things they said about me behind, i got beat up in the bathroom at school and i got a black eye and the bully said he would kill me if i told anyone and i told an adult and we talked through it but it didnt work. I want to tell all you kids out there if your being bullyed tell an adult dont let yourself get bullyed because your awesome and you know it and you dont deserve to be treated like how i was.
Kid, 12 years old

I don't understand why cyberbullys feel the need to do that. It's sad that they are making fun of other people for their problems and flaws when they can't even see their own. I don't think they realize that once you have bullied someone they never forget it and if its online it doesn't just go away with the click of a button. someone needs to do something about it or something bad is really going to happen and effect everyone and you just can't wait until it's too late
Adult written by Arizona's Zeus

don't you kids talk to your parent's or a caring adult? these bullies are SICK. They have psychological problems at home or in their lives that they can't control, so they take it out on whoever gets in the way. what an easy target at school, lots of kids to pick from . Some of These kids are wired differently than you , also. (mentally) It's a fact of life. There is no explaining it, it just is what it is. Don't try to figure it out. Do what you can to involve an adult, avoid situations where you think they may be or where they can get a hold on you, whatever it takes. Talk to your parents and tell them what is going on . let them help you. Avoid the BS. If you can't , then give as good as you get, some of the bullies have to be dealt with directly for them to "get it", that YOU aren't their target that they want to mess with.
Kid, 10 years old

+Arizona's Zeus You mentioned "Don't try to figure it out." These issues need to be figured out. Bullies aren't villains who think of nothing but their targets. They're human, just like anyone else. A counselor/therapist needs to find the root of the problem, why the bully is doing this, what the issue is. Trust me, there's almost always an explanation for why this person is bullying others. "Some of these kids are wired differently than you?" What does that even mean? Everyone is human, even people who are bullying others. It seems like you're separating bullies vs. everyone else, as if the bullies are second-class citizens. That will just create more angst around the issue, which isn't what we need to figure out the problem.
Teen, 16 years old written by candypop37

I have been bullied ever since i was 12 by my sister and her friends and my best friend's boyfriend's best friend's friend and they hurt me and made me cry
Teen, 14 years old written by sweetrae1

So say your daily life deals with bulling, and its at school you should tell a teacher first, and if they don't do anything tell your principal because they are their to stop bulling. If that doesn't work than tell your mom and she should tell the district and she will help you