Responding to Cyberbullying: Top Ten Tips for Adults Who Are Being Harassed Online Cyberbullying Research Center

By Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin
(For a formatted .pdf version of this article for distribution, click on the image above [or click here]).

1. Do not retaliate. Those who bully you online want you to react to them. The problem is that if you respond angrily, the aggressor may feed off of that response and continue (and even escalate the severity of) the cyberbullying. Plus there could be consequences for your response.

2. Record everything. Keep evidence of all content (pictures, texts, emails, tweets, status updates) that the cyberbully has sent or posted about you. If the cyberbullying is occurring on a blog or forum, take screenshots of the posts. The evidence will be useful to build a case against the person harassing you, and to work with authorities (such as law enforcement) when needed.

3. Talk to your employer. Let your employer know if the cyberbully is a co-worker, or if the bullying is occurring on a work-related forum or blog. If the harassment prevent you from doing your job, your employer needs to know about it.

4. Contact law enforcement. If threats of physical harm are made, or if the cyberbullying starts to get more dangerous, make a police report. The more evidence you have of the threats, the easier it will be for law enforcement to respond.

5. Report abuse. Every reputable website has a “Report” feature that allows you to tell them about behaviors that violate their terms of use. Guilty parties will be banned. Avoid sites that do not provide clear options to report those who bully you.

6. Consult with an attorney. If you feel like major damage has been done to your reputation due to an aggressor, contact a lawyer and see what your options are. You might be able to file a civil suit against the cyberbully depending on the nature of  the case. Possible legal actions include intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation of character, presentation in a false light, invasion of privacy, and harassment.

7. Talk about it. Speaking with trustworthy friends about what you are going through could be cathartic. They might have gone through similar situations might be able to give you ad- vice. Talking to someone about what you are going through, even if it is just to vent, can be very therapeutic.

8. Cut ties. Don’t befriend the cyberbully or try to get them to warm up to you. If you  feel like you need to respond to the aggressor, do it respectfully. Do not try and rationalize or make friends with that person.

9. Block the aggressor. Block the cyberbullying at its source. If you are getting incessant emails from someone, use your email program options to prevent that person from contacting you. Use the options within social media sites or applications to do the same. Then, the aggressor won’t be able to see you, search for you, or contact you in any way. You can even go through your cell phone provider or telephone company and block a particular phone number that is calling you.

10. Change your contact info. Change your e-mail, phone number, or online account completely. This would be a last resort because it greatly inconveniences you, but it may be necessary to terminate the problem.

This Top Ten List provides specific guidance for adults who are being cyberbullied.

Citation information: Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J. (2013). Responding to Cyberbullying: Top Ten Tips for Adults Who Are Being Harassed Online. Cyberbullying Research Center. Retrieved [insert date], from http://cyberbullying.org/Responding-to-cyberbullying-top-ten-tips-for-adults.pdf

Keywords: response, cyberbullying, adults, responding, tips

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