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Bullying that happens on social media is just as harmful as other bullying — and sometimes it’s even worse. That’s because it’s hard to get away from and it can reach people no matter where they are or what they’re doing.

What can I do if I’m being bullied online?

Getting bullied on social media or through text messaging can feel really terrible. Being connected to your phone, tablet, or computer all the time means that a bully can sneak into your life and make it feel like there’s no safe place to be. But there are things you can do to stop online bullying.

  • Change your privacy settings. Make sure that all of your social media accounts have very strict privacy settings. Set your accounts to “friends only” or “private.”

  • Block and un-friend. Block any harassing accounts, email addresses, or phone numbers.

  • Keep your personal details private. Don’t post your home address, phone number, school name, or any other personal information about yourself.

  • Take a break from your phone or computer. If it feels like the online bullying just won’t stop, take a break from social media. Turn off your phone or put it out of your sight.

  • Save harassing emails, texts, or messages. Take screenshots of harassment. This can be important evidence down the line.

  • Report bullying where it happens. Report online abuse to Facebook or Twitter if you're bullied on those platforms. You can report to other site admins if you’re bullied on their sites.

  • Tell an adult that you trust. Talk with a parent, teacher, coach, counselor, or someone who can be supportive. Adults can only help if they know about the problem.

  • Don’t respond to mean or threatening messages. This can make bullying worse.  Also, you could get in trouble if you make threats back.

  • Report serious threats to the police. If someone threatens your safety or shares sexual pictures or video of you, report it to the police immediately.

It may be hard to care about a bully’s feelings, but people who bully are often in pain and insecure about themselves. So they’re unfairly taking their bad feelings out on you. It isn’t right, but it might help to remember that their mean actions are not about you. Their bullying is about their own insecurities. You’re valuable. You’re important to this world. And no matter what anyone might say, you didn’t do anything to deserve this.

How to prevent cyber bullying

You can help stop online bullying in the following ways:

  • Don’t contribute to online bullying, even if your friends encourage you to do it.

  • Don’t encourage bullies by “liking” or sharing their comments or posts.

  • Don’t spread rumors online. Call out misinformation and gossip.

  • Don’t forward mean messages.

  • Defend other people when they’re being bullied online.

  • Block and report harassers. Many websites like Facebook or Twitter have safety centers where you can report harassment.

Am I an online bully?

You might think that online bullying isn’t a big deal, that everyone else is doing it, or that you won’t get caught. But  online bullying is a big deal.

Online bullying can really hurt others, and it can have serious consequences. Being bullied can make you feel alone, scared, and hopeless. Some people have even committed suicide because they were harassed online and didn’t think it would ever stop. When this happens, the people who harassed them face very real consequences — including legal action. And people who share sexual/naked pictures and videos of others without their consent can also face serious legal action.

The internet is permanent — what you post can live forever, even if you delete it. Assume anything you share online or in apps could be seen by anybody, anywhere, no matter what kind of privacy settings you use. It’s also easy for people to save and share screenshots of things you post.

If you think you might have crossed the line and are bullying someone, know that you can stop. Most people in your life that you care about will probably not only be ok with it, but may even respect you for it. Everyone deserves to feel safe and respected - including the person you’re bullying.

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