Bullying and Cyberbullying: FAQs and Resources

Unfortunately, both bullying and cyberbullying are very common. One in four children are bullied, and seven out of ten kids are affected by cyberbullying.

Read the below frequently asked questions and answers to learn more about this epidemic, and how we can work together to make it stop.

What is bullying and cyberbullying?

Bullying is an unwanted, aggressive behavior that happens when a person uses their power, such as popularity, physical strength or access to embarrassing information to control or harm others. Bullying can take many forms, such as name-calling, spreading rumors, verbal or physical attacks, threats, excluding someone on purpose and more. While bullying can take place anywhere, it commonly occurs in the school building, on the playground, bus, in neighborhoods or on the Internet.

Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place on any electronic technology, such as computers, cell phones or tablets, and usually occurs through texting, email, social media sites or chat rooms. Cyberbullying is different than bullying in many ways – it can happen 24/7, and since images and messages can be posted anonymously, it can be very difficult to find the source.

For Parents

How can I tell if someone might be a victim of bullying or cyberbullying?

Signs to look for in a child or teen:

  • Unexplainable injuries
  • Lost or destroyed items, such as electronics, clothing or books
  • Not wanting to go to school or declining grades
  • Avoidance of social situations or sudden loss of friends
  • Stomachaches, headaches or faking illness
  • Trouble sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Stops using their device(s) unexpectedly
  • Appears nervous or jumpy when using their device(s)
  • Acts angry, depressed or frustrated after going online
  • Avoids discussing what they do online

I’m afraid my child may be a bully. What are some signs I should look for?

  • Starts to hang out with the wrong crowd
  • Has increased behavioral issues at home or school
  • Shows little sympathy toward those who are bullied
  • Is overly concerned with being popular
  • Has violent tendencies
  • Frequently uses their device(s) and gets unusually upset when they can’t use their device(s)
  • Switches screens or hides their device when you are near
  • Uses multiple social media accounts/accounts that aren’t their own
  • Laughs excessively when using their device(s) and won’t tell you why
  • Avoids discussing what they do online

Where can I go for additional resources on bullying?

For Children and Teens

What should I do if I’m being bullied?

  • Immediately stand up for yourself, whether it’s calmly telling the bully to stop, laughing it off or walking away.
  • Don’t fight back. Find an adult so that they can stop the bullying on the spot.
  • Don’t keep your feelings to yourself. Talk to a trusted adult, such as a parent, teacher or pediatrician, so they can help you stop the bullying and to help you feel less alone.
  • To prevent being bullied in the future, stay away from places where bullying occurs, and stay near other kids or adults.

If you’re being cyberbullied:

  • Don’t respond or forward cyberbullying messages.
  • Keep all evidence – save and print screenshots, emails and text messages, and be sure to record the dates, times and nature of the cyberbullying.
  • Report cyberbullying to the following:
    • The social media site where the cyberbullying took place
    • Your school
    • Law enforcement, if the cyberbullying consists of violent threats, stalking and hate crimes, photos or videos of you in a private setting, or sexually explicit messages or child pornography.

What should I do if I witness bullying?

  • Don’t sit back and do nothing.
  • Stand up for the person being bullied by being kind to them and make them feel included – talk to them at school, sit with them on the bus or during lunch. This will help them know they are not alone.
  • Report the bullying incident to a trusted adult, such as a teacher or parent, so that they can intervene and help put an end to the bullying.

If you witness cyberbullying:

  • Let the person bullying know it’s not cool to make fun of people.
  • Report the post – many service providers will remove it.
  • Tell an adult or authority figure so they can intervene.
  • Write something nice on the target’s wall to show your support.

I am guilty of bullying. How can I stop?

  • Apologize to people you have bullied.
  • Stop and think before you say or do something that could hurt someone.
  • If you feel the urge to be mean to someone, find something else do to, such as going for a walk, watching TV or talking to a friend.
  • Talk to a trusted adult, such as a parent or pediatrician. They can help you learn to be kind to others.

Where can I go for additional resources on bullying?