The cellphone has made it easier for young people to chat with the world. However, it has also brought bullies, who were previously restricted to personal interaction and PC-based bullying, into a new level of intimacy with their victims. Most people carry their cellphones on their person all the time, with 60% of them taking the phone to bed with them (using it as an alarm clock). Bullying is therefore not restricted to a forum/ social networking platform, where the victim may unsubscribe and leave the platform. If the bully has his victim’s cellphone number, he can continue to bully him/her directly.
Here are some of the ways someone who is being bullied can deal with the problem:
- If someone writes nasty things about you on the forum, save a copy or print it so you have documented proof of the incident.
- Never reply to a cyber-bully or send a nastier message back. Engaging the bully in a debate gives him/her what he wants (your attention) and also shows that he can hurt you.
- If the bully was supposed to have been a friend, terminate the relationship regardless of the complicated feelings you may still have about him/her. Friends don’t write nasty messages about you, and they certainly don’t try to get you to do something wrong/that makes you uncomfortable.
- If the bully tries to blackmail you over an (imagined) infraction, do not give in regardless of how big the threat is. The blackmailer may demand you do worse things so they keep your secret if you have one, or he/she may finally disclose your secret. Also note online sexual predators pretend to be your friend so you can trust them, nudge you to do something very small that is “wrong” and then use the incident to push you into further contact.
- If the bullying is happening on a social networking platform, report it to the platform moderators/managers.
- If the bully contacts you directly on your cellphone, tell someone you trust what is happening. Your parents /siblings/friends/school councilor can probably help you find a solution that works best for you.
- If you keep receiving nasty messages, take a break from your phone for a few days to see if this person will wander off. Find out if your cellphone provider can help you by changing your number. If you are on a Pay-As-You-Go cellphone plan, find out if you can buy a new starter pack/SIM card.
- If you really liked the platform, sign on with a different cyber name and don’t give out your personal information.
- Always be careful about who you lend your phone to, or who you give your contact details.
- Remember that it’s not your fault and you don’t have to put up with it, or be ashamed that you are being bullied. Also, you are not alone. People and resources are available to deal with the problem.