Frequently Asked Questions – Cyberbullying and Harassment


1. What is harassment?

Harassment (also known as cyber harassment) is the use of email, instant messaging, and websites to bully or harass an individual or group through personal attacks. Harassment can be in the form of derogatory or insulting comments made in chat rooms, e-mail, block postings or comments on social networking sites. Those responsible for harassment are often difficult to track as the perpetrator is often anonymous. Harassment is very difficult to verify because we often do not understand the history or context of the situation. For purposes of this FAQ, consider harassment to include communication between adults.

2. What is cyberbullying?

Like bullying in person, cyberbullying (also known as online bullying) is repeated, deliberate behavior intended to tease, demean, or harass someone in a less powerful position. By contrast, cyberbullying uses electronic media and information technology as the means for carrying out the harassment. Since cyberbullying is online, it exposes the victim to harm 24 hours a day, can be made anonymously, and can potentially be broadcast to a far wider audience than in-person attacks. Cyberbullies can use any type of Internet-connected device through web services like text and instant messaging, games, or social media such as Facebook and Tumblr.

3. What are some examples of bullying?

  • Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things. Verbal bullying includes:
    • Teasing
    • Name-calling
    • Making inappropriate sexual comments
    • Taunting
    • Threatening to cause harm
  • Social bullying, sometimes referred to as relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. Social bullying includes:
    • Leaving someone out on purpose
    • Telling other children not to be friends with someone
    • Spreading rumors about someone
    • Embarrassing someone in public
  • Physical bullying involves hurting a person's body or possessions. Physical bullying includes:
    • Hitting/kicking/pinching
    • Spitting
    • Tripping/pushing
    • Taking or breaking someone's things
    • Making mean or rude hand gestures
    (Source: http://www.stopbullying.gov/what-is-bullying/definition/index.html)

4. How is cyberbullying different from in-person bullying?

  • Cyberbullying happens 24x7 and could happen in your home
  • Cyberbullying is anonymous and is potentially broadcast to a wider audience
  • Posts can be difficult to remove and can last forever
  • Cyberbullies don't have to confront people face-to-face, which makes it easier to do
  • Cyberbullying is pervasive

5. How can I prevent cyberbullying?

Don't forget that even though you can’t see a cyberbully or the bully’s victim, cyberbullying causes real problems. If you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t say it online. Don’t write it. Don’t forward it.
  • Refuse to pass along cyberbullying messages
  • Tell friends to stop cyberbullying
  • Block communication with cyberbullies
  • Report cyberbullying to a trusted adult
  • Speak with other students, teachers and school administrators to develop rules against cyberbullying
  • Raise awareness of the cyberbullying problem in your community by holding an assembly and creating fliers to give to younger kids or parents

6. Should I notify parents/guardians about this issue?

Definitely. The sooner the better. Don't wait until it escalates.

7. What can I do if my child is involved in online bullying?

Be supportive and responsive to all kids who have been involved in bullying situations, whether they are being bullied or are bullying others (or both).
  • Get the full story: Listen carefully and take it seriously. It may not be simple: the child or teen may be the target of bullying or may be bullying someone as well. Recognize, too, that kids may be reluctant to talk about it.
  • Make a plan together. Ask what you can do to help, and make the child's answers the basis for the plan. Discuss what each of you will do.
  • Get help. Find counselors or other experts trained to deal with kids who have been bullied or have bullied others.

For a kid being bullied online:
  • Don't blame the target of bullying -- even if he or she started it. No one deserves to be bullied.
  • Advise kids not to respond or retaliate.
    • Save the material in case authorities need it.
    • Report cyberbullying to the website or company where the abuse occurred.
    • If you feel your child is physically at risk, call the police immediately.
For a kid bullying someone online:
  • Try to understand the source of the bullying behavior. (But don't let reasons become excuses.)
  • Be supportive. It's the behavior, not the kid, that is the heart of the conflict.
  • Discuss how the child or teen can make amends, like an apology or a good deed for the person bullied.

8. What if I'm not comfortable notifying parents/guardians? Who else can I contact?

You can reach out to friends, neighbors, and trusted adults.

If you don’t have anyone to share this with, you can try one of the resources at: http://www.stompoutbullying.org/index.php/information-and-resources/helpchat-line/

If you or someone you know is experiencing emotional distress or a suicidal crisis, please contact your local suicide prevention lifeline, such as http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/gethelp/bullying.aspx, or reach out to your school or family counselor.

9. I'm being bullied by someone who is not a Microsoft customer, but with whom I exchange emails. Is there anything I can do?

Please contact the content provider. The most popular web sites (like Facebook, YouTube, Google, Twitter, and Instagram) make it pretty easy to report cyberbullying. Bullying is a violation of the terms of service of all reputable web sites.

10. Where can I obtain additional information for preventing bullying?

Please visit this site for additional useful information about bullying: http://www.microsoft.com/about/corporatecitizenship/en-us/youthspark/youthsparkhub/programs/onlinesafety/

There are many web service resources on the World Wide Web you can try, including:

www.bullying.org

http://cyberbullying.us

http://www.bullybust.org/resources/key_resources

Third-party web site disclaimer
Microsoft provides third-party contact information to help you find additional information about this topic. This contact information may change without notice. Microsoft does not guarantee the accuracy of third-party contact information.

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Article ID: 3061527 - Last Review: 08 Jun 2015 - Revision: 1

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