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Dear Dish-It: I'm Being Cyberbullied

Dear Dish-It,

I told my friend I didn't want to be friends anymore, now she is sending me hate-mail. What should I do? I already blocked her from everything and I told my parents.

Dramaqueen13

Dear Dramaqueen13,

Sounds like your friend is being a bit of a cyberbully. Cyberbullying is the use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target another person. Online threats or "flames" (rude texts, IMs, or messages) count. So does posting personal information or videos designed to hurt or embarrass someone else.

Online bullying can be easier to commit than other acts of bullying because the bully doesn't have to confront the victim in person. Some cyberbullies probably don't realize just how hurtful their actions are.

By definition, cyberbullying involves young people. If an adult sends the messages or notes, it may meet the legal definition of cyber-harassment or cyber-stalking.

Virtual Acts, Real Consequences

Because of the role technology plays in our lives, there is often no place to hide from bullies. Online bullying can happen at home as well as school (even in the coffee shop or anywhere else people go online). And it can happen 24 hours a day. Sometimes, online bullying, like other kinds of bullying, can leave people at risk for serious problems: Stress from being in a constant state of upset or fear can lead to problems with mood, energy level, sleep, and appetite. It can also make someone feel jumpy, anxious, or sad. It's not just the person being bullied who gets hurt — the punishment for cyberbullies can be serious. More and more schools and after-school programs are creating systems to respond to cyberbullying. Schools may kick bullies off sports teams or suspend them from school. Some types of cyberbullying may violate school codes or even break antidiscrimination or sexual harassment laws, so a bully may face serious legal trouble.

Why Do People Do It?

Why would someone be a cyberbully? There are probably as many reasons as there are bullies themselves. Sometimes, what seems like cyberbullying may be accidental. The impersonal nature of text messages, IMs, and emails makes it very hard to detect a sender's tone, and one person's joke could be another's devastating insult.

Most people know when they're being bullied, though, as bullying involves relentless teasing or threats. The people doing the bullying know they've crossed a line too. It's not a one-off joke or insult — it's constant harassment and threats.

Intentional online bullying can be a sign that the bully is feeling hurt, frustrated, or angry, and is lashing out at others.

What to Do

If you're being bullied, harassed, or teased in a hurtful way — or know someone who is — there is no reason to suffer in silence. In fact, you absolutely should report upsetting IMs, emails, texts, etc.

  1. Tell someone. Most experts agree: the first thing to do is tell an adult you trust. This is often easier said than done. Teens who are cyberbullied may feel embarrassed or reluctant to report a bully. But bullying can escalate, so speak up until you find someone to help.
  2. Most parents are so concerned about protecting their kids that sometimes they focus on taking all precautions to stop the bullying. If you're being bullied and worry about losing your Internet or phone privileges, explain your fears to your parents. Let them know how important it is to stay connected, and work with them to figure out a solution that doesn't leave you feeling punished as well. You may have to do some negotiating on safe cell phone or computer use — the most important thing is to first get the bullying under control.
  3. You can also talk to your school counselor or trusted teacher or other family member. If the bullying feels like it's grinding your life down, counseling can help. If you're not ready for that, you can still benefit from the support of a trusted adult.
  4. Walk away. That tip you've heard about walking away from a real-life bully works in the virtual world too. Knowing that you can step away from the computer (or turn off your phone) allows you to keep things in perspective and focus on the good things in your life. Ignoring bullies is the best way to take away their power. Sometimes ignoring a bully isn't easy to do — just try the best you can.
  5. Report it to your service provider. Sites like Facebook, MySpace, or YouTube take it seriously when people use their sites to post cruel or mean stuff or set up fake accounts. If users report abuse, the site administrator may block the bully from using the site in future. You can also complain to phone service or email providers (such as Gmail, Verizon, Comcast, and Yahoo) if someone is bothering you.
  6. Block the bully. Most devices have settings that allow you to electronically block the bully or bullies from sending notes. If you don't know how to do this, ask a friend or adult who does.
  7. Don't respond. Resist the urge to "fight back." In some cases, standing up to a bully can be effective, but it's also more likely to provoke the person and escalate the situation. Ask an adult to intervene instead — after all, fighting fire with fire just leaves everything burned.
  8. Although it's not a good idea to respond to a bully, it is a good idea to save evidence of the bullying if you can. It can help you prove your case, if needed. You don't have to keep mean emails, texts, or other communications where you see them all the time — you can forward them to a parent or save them to a flash drive.
  9. Be safe online. Password protect your cell phone and your online sites, and change your passwords often. Be sure to share your passwords only with your parent or guardian. It's also wise to think twice before sharing personal information or photos/videos that you don't want the world to see. Once you've posted a photo or message, it can be difficult or impossible to delete. So remind yourself to be cautious when posting photos or responding to someone's upsetting message.

If A Friend is a Bully

If you see a friend acting as a cyberbully, take him or her aside and gently talk about it. Perhaps there's a reason behind the bullying and you can help your friend think about what it is. Or, if you don't know the person well enough to talk about feelings, just stand up for your own principles: Let the bully know it's not cool. Explain that it can have very serious consequences for the bully as well as "bystanders" like you and your friends who may feel stressed out or upset about what's going on.

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Dear Dish-It in the forums

astucieuse331
astucieuse331 posted in Friends:
I've always felt the same way. My one best friend gossiped behind my back, used me, all that girl stuff. She took me for advantage and we had a bunch of fights because of her finding a new friend and completely acting as if I didn't exist, and I told her to give me at least some attention every once in a while if she can't even continue to talk to me daily. And.. I lost her. Well, she lost me. We both lost each other. But then I realized.. it's the people that you least expect to be nice to you you'll find kindness in. Why? Based on personal experience, and I'll tell you the story: For my gym class, me and my peers were supposed to make a group for a dance. This was when my best friend had found a new friend already, and the time at which we had a few fights because of that. Of course, I relied on my best friend to count me in her dance group. At lunchtime, I sat together with my best friend, and we ate our lunches in silence. All of a sudden, I brought up the dance groups and asked her straightforwardly: "Can I join your group?" No reply. "Kelly, can I join your group?" No reply. "I mean, since our class is uneven, I found it fair that there'd be a group of five, you know?" None at all. Kelly ignored me straight off the bat, leaving me speechless. My mind raced with thoughts, and I thought, maybe it's not worth having Kelly as a friend. A few days later, we were playing Dodgeball for gym. I was on Kelly's team, and overheard her talking with her new friends about who to pick for the dance group. One of her friends mentioned me, and Kelly said: "Oh no, we shouldn't pick her because _____ (I don't know what she said then)." I was shocked, but was anticipating it, so when the time came to choose groups, I saw my friend, Luke, ask two girls, Cher and Bridgette, to join their group. Surprisingly, Cher and Bridgette actually accepted him, and so I thought, "Wow, if they accepted Luke, they might accept me aswell!" and so built up the courage to ask them if I could join. Even though Cher and Bridgette were mean to me sometimes, I knew that I had to risk it and see what'd happen. Afterall, rejection is just another opportunity to find a better group. Little did I know, it'd be the best choice of my life. They were so happy, and even thanked me for joining them! I was speechless once more; I never knew that the peers that I thought I would never be friends with would actually be my friends!  So yeah, that's what I learnt, and I never regretted learning that fact. Ever since then, though, I've learnt not to trust people as much as I used to anymore. I learnt that independency is what works for me, what I was meant for in terms of socializing or working. But, other things may work for you. If you still want a friend, you can be independent and wait for the right person. However, if you still want a real friend, you can wait, but still mingle (hang out) with other people! I I'm not going to make fun of you because I know how you've felt, just as I stated in my past problem before. But you can move on from those friends, they're not worth your time and certainly don't deserve you as a friend. Trust me, if it's meant to be, you'll definitely find a true friend. But if it's not, you may become like me, finding happiness in my own way. I want to remind you though-- you don't need someone to stay happy, or keep you company. This may sound silly, but you can even have your own invisible friends! I've had one, but that's very rarely for me. It's not silly though if you see the general idea; usually these friends are made from different dimensions of your personality or just because of will. There's a lot more fish in the sea, though, so I'm sure you'll find a true friend that's meant for you  :) Take care, and I hope you'll find a true friend soon!
reply about 18 hours
ts01
ts01 posted in Friends:
im so sorry you girls feel that way.true friends are there, its just easier to find users because they are more plentiful. dont give up, you will find real friends eventually
reply about 18 hours
lolflowergirl
lolflowergirl posted in Friends:
i feel alone too
reply about 20 hours
kayme123
kayme123 posted in Friends:
i know the feeling. but i got taken off a website instead of my friends. i can assure you they probably feel the same and are missing you, BUT its not worth dwelling over it. friends come and go without any choice in life and trust me, i lost the love of my life and my two of the best friends in the world. The thing is, you have to move on, because they wouldent want you feeling sad over them right? they'd want you to be the happy person you were when you were with them! for starters, i'll be your friend so your not scared to make some new ones. To be honest, i went through the exact same thing as you did and it DOES hurt very bad. But once you find some people that are willing to make you feel better, you know you've chosen the right friends again
reply 1 day
Irene_love
Irene_love posted in Style:
"1.am.3m0" wrote:Hey. Im also turning 15 soon. So dont worry you arent alone hahah. Start dressing for your shape and also find whats comfortable.  Because if you wear something that is uncomfortable you wont be happy and happiness is the best look :) Most of the time I wear jeans with a graphic tshirt or singlet and a cardigan or light jacket. Hoodies are great for winter. And I wear combat boots like doc martins and converse. Hope I helped somehow! :)
reply 1 day

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