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Cyberbullying: what’s the solution?

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Cyberbullying: what’s the solution?

A recent survey, commissioned by the Children’s Society and YoungMinds, has accused Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter of failing to protect young people from harassment on their platforms. The enquiry into cyberbullying has found – what many of us already know – that online abuse severely affects the mental health of young people. Almost half of young people report having experienced threatening, intimidating or abusive messages on social media. Some young people even report being driven to the verge of suicide.

The survey creators have asked that Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter take reports about online harassment more seriously, but what can we do to make our teenage years happier and safer from bullying?

What to do if you are being bullied?

If you are being bullied, report it. It doesn’t matter who to. Tell your friends, your family, your teacher’s cousin’s godmother – it doesn’t matter. Just tell someone. You have done nothing wrong, and you must not endure these attacks. Cyberbullying affects your grades, your mental health and your ability to grow into the wonderful adult that you are destined to be.

It doesn’t matter if the person bullying you has something “on you” that they are trying to blackmail you with, threatening you that if you “tell” they will tell your mum about your antics 3 months ago. Your mum isn’t going to care (at least not for very long) that you kissed the wrong boy at the party you weren’t supposed to be at, and worst case scenario there may be a lot of shouting. The bullying you are experiencing on the other hand is jeopardising your whole future and she needs to know about it. A few minutes of shouting is worth it for the protection of the rest of your future. Also – it is always worth remembering that your parents were young once (difficult to believe we know) and that they will also have made mistakes, and will expect you to make a few too…

If, for whatever reason you feel you can’t tell anyone (although you can, we promise!), please call a helpline (numbers at the end of this article). It isn’t worth messing around with this stuff. Don’t let sad, insecure people affect your future. You deserve so much better than this.

What to do if you witness bullying?

Don’t ever be a bystander. If you know someone is being bullied, report it. Immediately. It is your duty as a good human. Bullies rely on bystanders to get a kick out of what they are doing. They love the fact that you are scared of them, and fear being their next victim. Remove their power. Tell an adult. Children hurt themselves every day because of bullying. Don’t have it on your conscience that you could have done something to protect someone and you failed to do it. Write an anonymous note for your teacher, tell your parents so they can report it – do whatever you need to do. Oh and also know that the second you report something, everyone else will get brave and start reporting too, and then you’ll have a much happier classroom.

We, here at TeenZone, would like the solution to bullying to be a sudden attack of conscience on the part of bullies, but unfortunately, this seems unlikely. What are your thoughts on solutions to this epidemic of cyberbullying and online harassment? What do you think the platforms can do to make life safer for young people online? TeenZone  have paired up with an app called SpeakUP that we hope will protect you and your friends against bullying, harassment and abuse. The app allows you to report anonymously to teachers and psychologists at your school if you are concerned about anything affecting you or someone else you know. Let us know what you think about this, and if you would like to be involved in this anti -bullying campaign please contact us on teenzone@panorama.co.za

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