How to stop bullying and cyberbullying

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Kevin Mangelschots

Bullying is a prevalent problem in society. Not just in real life, but cyberbullying via social media as well.

It has several negative results to the victim and potentially to the friends and family of that person as well. That’s why it’s important to learn how to stop bullying. One of the ways to do this is to become more tolerant of each other.

Harming others is not, and should never be, okay. That’s why we need to acquire the skills to stop this toxic, vicious cycle.

How to stop getting bullied?

Image of the words, “stop bullying” being written by someone's hand holding a marker.

  • Stay calm

    One of the first steps to stop getting bullied is remaining calm under pressure.

    When you are relaxed, you make better judgment calls, you seem less anxious, fidgety and afraid, and this will always be noticeable in your behavior. Calmness is associated with confidence and being in control. And bullies don’t like it when others are in control of their own actions.

    Staying calm is not the same as enjoying or consenting with the ongoing bullying, by the way. It simply means having enough emotional control to consider your best choice of action before carrying it out with dignity.

  • Walk away

    Walking away from a bully shows that you won’t put up with the things they are doing/saying.

    Important to realize is that walking away can only be effective when you look unintimitated and uninterested. When the bully perceives you as being scared, which is possible because you “are running away”, chances are large that the bullying will increase in intensity and frequency in that case.

    That’s why it’s best to tell them firmly that you don’t appreciate what they are doing, and that you want them to stop before walking away. This way, the message that you won’t put up with their bullying gets across more clearly and is almost impossible to be misinterpreted.

  • Act like you’re bored

    A young woman holding her head looking bored.

    Acting like you’re bored and uninterested might make them lose interest in you as a target.

    If their aim is to hurt you mentally through a verbal assault, or if they want to be looked at as tough guys to impress their friends, this strategy will probably work well.

    Acting like you’re bored when the bullying takes physical or sexual forms is obviously not advised. In these cases, other strategies will work much more effectively. Never let people harm you physically or sexually.

  • Ignore it

     

    Image of a man focusing on one thing while the rest of his colleagues are talking in a meeting.

    Ignoring it can potentially stop bullying because often times, the bully is looking to get a response out of you. When you ignore it, you may become uninteresting as a target.

    However, ignoring it might make it, so they perceive you as scared. And bullies love helpless targets. It is kind of a double-edged sword. That’s why ignoring it might be a dangerous strategy to go for.

  • Stand up tall and look unintimidated

    One of the most effective ways to stop bullying is to stand up tall and look unintimidated.

    Always a good strategy to go for, no matter what you’re doing in life. And especially so for defending yourself against bullies and potential bullies.

    Like already briefly mentioned, bullies always target people they deem weak, inferior and generally unable to defend themselves. Nothing says you’re not an easy target like being confident, standing up tall while looking straight forward instead of turning your gaze towards the ground.

    When doing this in general, it is unlikely that bullies will target you, as there are a lot of easier targets available to them.

  • Increase your confidence

     

    Picture of a person cutting the letter T of the sentence “I can't do it” with a pair of scissors.

    If you’re not confident yet, then it is time to do something about it and work towards raising your self-esteem in the future.

    How can we accomplish this sometimes seemingly impossible task? Well, there are multiple possibilities here. There’s no one size fits all solution. Start working out, lift weights, learn martial arts, learn to talk and socialize with other people, learn to value yourself as a person, and work on your personal weaknesses in general.

    Keep in mind that a combination of all those things is advised, as they will all work together in coherence and compound to increase your confidence.

  • Tell the bully to stop

     

    Image of a man holding out his hand, indicating he's telling to stop.

    Perhaps the best way to stop bullying.

    Telling the bully to stop is a powerful way to tell them that you don’t appreciate what they’re doing, that you want them to stop, and that you won’t put up with their behavior.

    When the bully tries to hassle you because of low self-esteem, this strategy will most likely work great. When the bully hassles you because of an overly high self-esteem, it might be possible that he/she sees it as a challenge and won’t back down since they deem you inferior to them.

    However, telling the bully to stop is in most cases still a good thing. No matter what you do in life, there are going to be times when you will need to be assertive and defend yourself. You might not like doing so, you might not like confrontation, but it’s better to learn this early on in life rather than later. You won’t regret having this important life skill in your command.

  • Defend yourself verbally

     

    A man and woman arguing while pointing their finger at each other.

    You will need to defend yourself verbally multiple times in your life. Be it from bullies, companies attempting to scam you, or your boss being inconsiderate of your feelings or over asking you.

    It is a skill that can be learned. As a matter of fact, assertiveness training is becoming ever more popular these days. And even people who avoid conflict because they don’t like disharmony can learn to become assertive and define clear boundaries if necessary.

  • Tell a person in authority so the bully stops

    A person in authority, like let’s say a teacher when the bullying happens at school, the coach when it happens at the gym, or the police, can help to get the bully to stop.

    However, sometimes the teacher and school will not go to the lengths necessary to get the bully to stop. This might make it so the bullying behavior increases in frequency and intensity.

    In general, I would always advise people to learn to defend themselves, both physically and verbally. Informing the police is a good thing since you can take legal action against the bully(s). Be it immediate action, or maybe somewhere down the future if necessary.

  • Defend yourself physically

     

    I’m not promoting violence. But, there are people out there that won’t stop until you show that you can and will defend yourself physically if the situation calls for it.

    There are people out there that don’t care about morality like most people do, they don’t care about equality, fairness, or empathy. The only thing they care about is themselves, and they will obtain what they want through any means.

    Those are the kind of people who won’t respond to reason or authority figures. Thus, those are the kind of people who we need to be able to defend ourselves from physically.

    Only resort to defending yourself physically as a last resort. Because getting in a physical altercation is not only dangerous, but it might also get you into trouble with the police as well. But in some cases, you’ve got no choice or better option.

How to stop cyberbullying?

Picture of a prohibition sign saying “stop cyberbullying”.

  • Think about what you post

    Probably the best tip to prevent cyberbullying, or at least to protect yourself from it as well as you can.

    Think about the things you post, because once you post something on social media, it’s there to stay. People can take a screenshot, save an image, a text, and they possess it forever.

    Be especially careful with what pictures you post, since erotic pictures are obviously an easy way to blackmail or cyberbully you.

  • Keep your password secret and change it often

    Keep your password secret to everyone, even your best friends. You never truly know what someone is thinking or might be hiding. Not to mention that some of your friends can turn on you in the future. That’s just the sad reality of the world.

    Even better, change your password frequently. This way, hackers have a harder time to get into your computer and, thus, your personal possessions. Try creating a stronger password with a capital letter, number, and other characters in it.

  • Report cyberbullying to authority figures and the service providers in question

     

    Hierarchy, describing effective leadership.

    Reporting cyberbullying to an authority figure and the service provider can help them track down the offender and thus, hold them accountable for legal consequences.

    It is best to inform both the authority figures and the service provider where the cyberbullying is happening, as they can work together on the case if necessary.

  • Block the bully, don’t respond

    Another good tip for how to stop cyberbullying is simply blocking the bully and not responding.

    Don’t give them the pleasure and satisfaction of showing your distress to them.

    When you respond, they know you are triggered. Thus, the cyberbullying will probably become worse instead of better.

    If you do respond, don’t become upset or angry. Just calmly tell them to stop or that you will inform the police of their actions. This shows the cyberbullies that you’re serious about the matter, but also that they aren’t harming you as much as they were hoping for, as you remain calm.

  • Confront the person, tell them you will take legal actions

     

    Illustration of the word confrontation written on a notepad.

    In those rare cases where you know who the cyberbully is, you can confront them and threaten them to take legal actions.

    This can work, but it is less likely to work than is the case with bullying in real life, since cyberbullying is often done in anonymity. Thus, they might deem themselves safe from any repercussions.

  • Ask for help by authority figures and friends/family

    We all need a little help every once in a while. Sometimes a person who’s not as closely emotionally evolved with the problem might be able to analyze the problem and possible solution more objectively.

    It is always good to have different kind of insights and different point of views, even when you don’t necessarily agree with them.

  • Call/tell the police

    When the cyberbullying continues, call the police and tell them what is happening. Try to gather solid evidence for them that can be used in a legal case like recording what the person is saying, what they are mailing, what they are screenshotting or what they are blackmailing you with.

    When the cyberbully knows what they’re doing, it is possible that the police can’t catch them. But, it is always worth a try and in most cases, they can.

Keep in mind that learning how to prevent cyberbullying is still no guarantee that no one is going to attempt to do so. In the end, nobody is exempt from being a potential victim.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

What is bullying?

Picture of two children pointing at and bullying one young boy sitting depressed on the ground.
 
Bullying can be described as physical, mental or sexual systemized aggression from a single person or a group towards one person or a group of people.
 
Bullies often target people who they deem weaker or inferior to them and who they consider incapable of defending themselves.
 

The difference between teasing and bullying is that teasing is carried out in good spirit and that it even has an important function because it builds up character. Teasing happens when we like people.

Bullying on the other hand happens when we dislike someone. Bullying is aimed at a single person or group with the goal to harm that person either physically, mentally or sexually. Through the eyes of a bully, the victim(s) is not allowed to resist, whereas a teased person is allowed and even expected to resist.

What is cyberbullying?

Illustration of a prohibition sign with various examples of cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying means bullying a person or group through the usage of digital technologies such as a computer, tablets, and cell phones.

It is typically done by sending messages in a threatening, intimidating or denigrating manner. Cyberbullying is often times repeated behavior.

Why do people bully?

Bullying is a learned, albeit toxic and vicious behavior. This is essential because it means that the behavior can potentially be unlearned.

People often bully others because of mainly two reasons.

  1. Because of low self-esteem

    Image of a woman who's overwhelmed by fear and is experiencing feelings of anxiety as a result.

    Reason one is because the bully has low self-esteem.

    Thus, he/she feels the need to bully others to feel themselves better, to raise their confidence, to make them feel superior, or at the very least not inferior to others.

  2. Because of overly high self-esteem

    Reason two is because the bully has an overly high self-esteem.

    This means that the bully feels superior to others and deems others to be below them. They do so because they can get away with it, and because they enjoy the sense of power and being in control that bullying others gives them.

Why is cyberbullying popular?

Illustration of a man scratching their head while holding a yellow question mark.

Cyberbullying can happen at any time and anywhere. Whereas bullying obviously happens in real life. Be it at home, work or any other physical place.

Furthermore, it’s popular because the people hide behind their so-called anonymity. This is one of the critical downsides of using too much social media.

However, each computer has an IP address that more or less functions as the address where you live in real life. In recent years, cyberbullying has been getting a lot more attention and more actions, including legal measures, have been taken to punish cyberbullies.

So cyberbullying is popular because:

  1. Perceived anonymity
  2. It can happen anytime
  3. It can happen from basically everywhere

How to help someone who is being bullied

Picture of the words “stop bullying, stand up. Speak out”.

  • Take immediate action and stand up for that person

    Both concern and hope are required to take action. And this is no different with regard to bullying.

    Bullying is never okay. And we need to be the change that we want to see in the world. In order to do that, we require ourselves to set a good example.

    When we see a people that’s being bullied, stand up for them. Especially when you see that they can’t properly defend themselves verbally or physically.

    Of course, it is even better if the victims can stand up for themselves, as this will last them a lifetime. That’s why, if possible, you should teach them that they should learn to stand up for themselves, both physically and verbally.

  • Separate the bully and the bullied individual

    Defuse the situation and put the bullied person out of harms way by separating them.

    This will help the bullied individual to relax and will show the bully that his behavior is not okay and that there are people out there that will stand up to their negative behavior. That’s not to say that the bully will stop this behavior in the future. But at least you saved the victim at this time.

  • Listen and support the person who’s being bullied

    Image of a man holding his hand near his ear and listening carefully, isolated on a gray wall background.

    Everyone needs someone to vent to once in a while, no matter how tough you might be.

    Support the victim by listening to them, by giving them advice, and by comforting them when necessary.

  • Be friends with the bullied person

    You can help someone who is being bullied by being friends with them.

    Support them, listen to them, defend them and help them where necessary.

    Everyone requires friends. It is friends that make this life worth living. Friends also help to increase one’s self-esteem and confidence. You might even be the only friend that the victim in question has. You might actually be the difference between someone contemplating suicide, or having someone and something to live for.

  • Tell other people that bullying is not ok and should not be tolerated

    A black man making a no sign by waving his finger.

    It is good practice to show other people the devastating effects that bullying can have.

    Tell them, and show them, that bullying is not ok. That it is not beneficial for society nor for the victims, and that this kind of toxic learned behavior should not be acceptable and should stop.

  • Set a good example

    All previous points come back to setting a good example for other people and society as a whole.

    You can’t force other people to change. But you can at least practice what you preach and try to be the change that you would like to see in the world.

    You will be a beacon of light for victims and to others alike that shows that you will not stand for bullying.

Conclusion

Lessons Learned statement on paper note pad. Office desk with electronic devices and computer, wood table from above, concept image for blog title or header image. Aged vintage color look.

Bullying can have devastating results for the victim and the people around that person.

Again, it is important to consider that bullying is learned behavior, and thus, can potentially be unlearned. We know this is possible because there are multiple ways to stop bullying.

Since it is learned behavior, this means we should try to aim to improve people’s upbringing. Raising our kids with decency and respect can go a long way to solves bullying, cyberbullying, and a whole variety of other problems.

Make sure to not allow yourself or others to be bullied. If you are being victimized, make sure you’re not allowing it to go on for longer than it has to. Take steps to solve the issue. Be it due to legal actions, or by solving the concern yourself.