How to stop a cyberbully


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Social media platforms and online forums have the power to connect people around the world. They build community and togetherness, and they offer a place for people to give each other, love, support, and guidance. However, this connectivity does come with a dangerous downfall—cyberbullying. Cyberbullying poses a real threat to today’s youth, which is why it’s important to know strategies for preventing and stopping incidents of cyberbullying.

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is bullying that occurs through digital means. Cyberbullies can attack people using cell phones, social media accounts, interactive games, apps, and even email. According to “Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Tik-Tok” are some of the most common places where cyberbullying occurs. Perpetrators also use online chat rooms and message boards to attack their victims. These events are often repetitive or sustained, and they are personal and meant to inflict social or emotional harm. Here are seven examples of cyberbullying:

  • Spreading false rumors

  • Harassing messages or comments

  • Threatening language

  • Sharing images or information to humiliate

  • Impersonating the victim

  • Purposeful exclusion

  • Cyberstalking

Why do people bully others online?

While it is difficult to know exactly what causes people to harass and bully others online, there are some commonalities within the profile of those who do. Dr. Amanda Nickerson—Psychology Professor at the University of Buffalo and Director of the Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention—says that cyberbullies may “lack empathy” or “view aggression as an appropriate or justifiable behavior.” Nickerson points out that “people who cyberbully others often engage in other forms of bullying—such as physical, relational, and verbal bullying—or display other behavioral problems including impulsivity.” She also notes that “high parental conflict, low parental supervision, poor peer relationships” and a history of “[being] victimized themselves” may relate to this type of behavior.

What to do if you experience cyberbullying

Being the victim of cyberbullying hurts. It can leave you feeling violated, intimidated, embarrassed, or threatened. Whether you’re dealing with internet trolls, people hiding behind fake accounts, or cruel messages from someone you once considered a friend, there are steps you can take to deal with your cyber situation.

Ask the person to stop

The first thing you should do when experiencing negativity online is to ask for it to stop. When faced with cruel posts, online rumors, or angry comments, communicating your feelings is crucial. Keep in mind that a short and direct request is best, and you should only ask the person to stop if you feel safe enough to do so. Otherwise, avoid interacting with them in any way.

Don’t retaliate

Remember, it’s important not to retaliate against a cyberbully. Cyberbullies hide behind the anonymity of the internet and they use the secrecy of fake accounts or private messages to disturb, discourage, and scare others. Engaging in a back and forth conversation with this person could actually excite or even enrage them.

Gather evidence

You can still stand up for yourself without fighting back. The first step in doing this is to gather evidence of bullying or harassment. You should screenshot, download, and save messages, images, videos, or voice recordings sent by the attacker—even if they are embarrassing or upsetting. Remember to also save proof that you asked the person to stop. Doing so substantiates the idea that the bully knew they were upsetting you, and it helps to show that the harassment is sustained and ongoing.

Block and report

After documenting the situation you should take advantage of any safety and privacy options that are available to you. Protect your emotional well-being by blocking the bully’s phone number and social media accounts. Next, report the person or user to the appropriate authority. Sometimes this is as simple as making an in-app complaint, and other times it may require contacting a school administrator or even the police.

Reach out to a trusted adult

Your feelings matter. If someone is trying to tear you down, it’s best to find some allies in trying to build you back up. Talking to a supportive counselor, teacher, parent, or coach is a good place to start. Share how this event makes you feel, and ask for advice. Knowing that someone is in your corner can help rebuild your confidence and lessen feelings of isolation.

If you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to an adult in your life just yet, there are other options. recommends calling 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) if you need someone to talk to about the ways cyberbullying is affecting you.

Protect your accounts

In addition to blocking individual accounts on social media, you may be able to take further steps to protect yourself online. Apps often have privacy settings that limit what a non-friend can see on your account or profile. Also, there may be settings that control what kind of comments can be posted to your page. Shagoon Maurya—psychologist, psychiatrist, and founder of—recommends  that you also “log out when using [a] public [device] or your friend’s device at all times to prevent misuse.” Maurya is also adamant that social media users “do not share private information like address and phone number openly.”

Understanding the scope and impact of cyberbullying

Online devices, social media apps, streaming platforms, and interactive message boards have integrated with society and community. The implications of the movement toward technology do not bypass children and adolescents. With 95% of U.S. teens online, it is important to understand the scope and range cyberbullying has.

Speaking with Lauren Tingley,  Creator of Simply-Well-Balanced she notes “In recent years, data has shown an increase in this number to nearly one in five US teens who face online harassment on social media sites. Most common among 13-17 year old (75% of them), with 54% of these teens saying they were harassed daily or weekly–often by classmates they knew in real life–with over 80% experiencing emotional damage because of their bullying experiences. Children and teens are especially vulnerable to bullying from their peers, and between social media, distance learning and doing everything on Zoom, children of all ages are spending more time online than ever before. This has made it even easier for these bullies to victimize others without supervision.” also points out that girls and members of the LGBTQ+ community are disproportionately affected by cyberbullying. These numbers are significant, as those “who experience cyberbullying are at greater risk…for self-harm and suicidal behaviors.”

Tips for parents looking for cyberbullying solutions

Most parents want to help their kids navigate the ups and downs of growing up—they guide them through the emotional rollercoaster that is finding friends, building confidence, and standing up for themselves. But when it comes to online interactions, some parents feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to intervene when something goes awry. Despite the enormity and complexity surrounding cyberbullying, experts say that there are some prevention methods and intervention techniques parents can use to help their children.

Establish a line of open communication

The first step in helping your children deal with cyberbullying is to establish a trusting and judgment-free relationship. Explain that navigating social media, chat forums, and other online interactions can sometimes be difficult. Encourage your child to come to you if they receive an upsetting message or image.

Role-play cyberbullying scenarios with your child. This will help you gain insight into how your child might behave if they were to encounter online harassment or intimidation. Remember, cyberbullies sometimes gain leverage over their victims by threatening to embarrass or blackmail them with private or sensitive information—so it’s important to let your children know that you won’t judge them if they come to you for help.

Research parental controls and monitoring apps

With multiple social media accounts, hundreds of text messages, and an endless number of online chats and forums, it may feel impossible to effectively monitor your child’s online activity. Take advantage of parental controls on your child’s devices and social media accounts and look for applications that offer monitoring and protection.

The Bark app is one parental tool that monitors text messages, emails, and activity on dozens of social media sites and platforms. It sends alerts to parents in real-time, and it can be used to jumpstart conversations about online safety. Using an app like this helps protect your children from cyberbullies while still respecting their privacy.

Promote peaceful resolutions

Beyond asking for the person to stop, tell your kids to avoid engaging with a cyberbully. Teach your children not to retaliate or fight back. Instead, encourage them to block and report people demonstrating cruel or inappropriate behavior. Cyberbullies often thrive off of online attention. By not responding, the bully may lose interest and stop.

Speak to a school counselor

Your child’s guidance department can be an excellent resource for preventing and dealing with incidences of cyberbullying. According to Dr. Johanna Sam—Professor of Counseling, Psychology, and Special Education at The University of British Columbia—schools with “anti-cyberbullying programs were more effective [in] reducing incidents of cyberbullying in comparison to [schools with] programs that focused generally on violence prevention.”

It’s important to ask your child’s guidance counselor about what the school does to prevent cyberbullying and support healthy internet usage. If the school doesn’t have an anti-cyberbullying program, ask if they would consider adding it to the social and emotional learning plan.

Know when to contact the authorities

While kids may need your support dealing with the occasional negative comment or rude text message, some instances require outside intervention. When the bullying is sustained or threatening—and blocking isn’t enough to keep your child safe—it’s important to let people know what’s going on. Reporting abuse on social media platforms, and reaching out to school officials or your local police is necessary if the bully’s behavior is criminal or dangerous. Here are four reasons to bring cyberbullying to the authorities:

  • If illicit photos are being sent to a minor

  • If the bully is threatening someone’s safety

  • If the bully is stalking the victim

  • If blackmail is being used to get the victim to commit a crime or engage in dangerous activity

This article originally appeared on YouNow and was syndicated by

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Of course, Elden isn’t the only person who we mainly remember as kids from way back when, and who we were shocked to learn had aged the same number of years that we had. Here’s a rundown of formerly famous kids who are grown adults today, and we simply can’t process the information.


Image: A spoof of the famous Nirvana album cover that does not depict Spencer Elden all grown up.



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Abigail Breslin made her film debut at the age of six in the 2002 M. Night Shyamalan movie Signs, but it was her performance in 2006’s Little Miss Sunshine that made her a star. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance, and even though she didn’t win, she was only 10 years old, so how about giving her a break?





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Despite not winning Hollywood’s highest honor, Breslin kept acting and has been gainfully employed the whole time. She is currently 25 years old, so she still has plenty of time to win a gold statuette or two.




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In case the Spencer Elden imbroglio didn’t make you feel old enough, here’s Frances Bean Cobain, who was born in 1992 to Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain and Hole’s Courtney Love. Her father died before she was two years old, and she pretty much stayed out of the spotlight until 2005, when she granted her first-ever interview to Teen Vogue at the age of 13.


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Dakota Fanning


Dakota Fanning started acting at the age of five and has never been hard up for work in the time since then. The only potential complication in her life might have been that she made so many movie and television appearances as a child that she would have trouble transitioning into roles for grownups.






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Fanning managed to escape the curse of child actors who become unemployed when they get older. Now 27, Fanning appeared in the Twilight franchise and very gracefully aged into adult roles, such as in 2019’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, in which she played would-be presidential assassin Squeaky Fromme.



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Bindi Irwin is the daughter of Australian conservationist Steve Irwin, who passed away in 2006. She was eight years old at the time of his passing, but rather than lower her profile, she continued production of her own television show, Bindi the Jungle Girl, which had started filming before her father’s death and even featured him in some early episodes.





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There was a time in the distant past when the idea of pop singer Madonna settling down and having a family was laughable. But in 1996, that’s exactly what happened, when she gave birth to Lourdes Leon, her daughter with fitness trainer Carlos Leon.


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Jonathan Lipnicki made his big screen debut in the 1996 Tom Cruise movie Jerry Maguire, in which he played the adorable moppet son of Renée Zellweger. His career immediately took off and he worked consistently in movies and television after that, most notably starring in 1999’s Stuart Little.


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In 1999, at age 10, Jake Lloyd starred as young Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, a plum gig that should have catapulted him into superstardom. Instead, he said that he was bullied at school, mocked by fans, and found the entire experience so off-putting that he retired from acting in 2001.



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Lloyd, who is now 32 years old, had a hard time adjusting to life after Star Wars. He was involved in several incidents that required police intervention, including a 2015 incident in which he attacked his mother. In 2017, Mark “Luke Skywalker” Hammill himself said that the way Lloyd had been savaged in the press was simply cruel. “I’m still angry about the way they treated Jake Lloyd,” he said. “He was only 10 years old.”



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Emily Osment was born into a family of actors, including her father Michael Eugene Osment and her brother, who we’ll get to in a moment. At 10 years old she appeared in the second film in the Spy Kids franchise, followed by its 3D sequel a year later. In 2006, she joined the cast of the Hannah Montana television show, opposite Miley Cyrus.


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Emily Osment’s brother Haley Joel Osment had already been in a few movies when he starred in 1999’s The Sixth Sense, but the supernatural Bruce Willis vehicle put him on the map. After conquering Hollywood at 11 years of age, he had his pick of high-profile roles, but inevitably, the roles for the child actor dried up once he was no longer a child.





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Osment had the good fortune to be so heavily identified with his role in The Sixth Sense that when he began taking into adult roles, he looked nothing like his former self and could almost pass as a new actor. Now 33 years old, he’s pretty much unrecognizable to people who only know him from The Sixth Sense, particularly when he appeared on HBO’s Silicon Valley in 2017 as a bearded tech bro.


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At the age of 13, Ariana Richards starred in 1993’s Jurassic Park as Lex Murphy, the teenage girl who (SPOILER ALERT) saves the day with her computer hacking skills. At the time of its release, it became the highest-grossing movie of all time, perfectly positioning Richards to become a bona fide movie star, but after a couple more movies, she moved on.


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Jamie Lynn Spears is the younger sister of singer Britney Spears, and she achieved fame in her own right as the star of the Nickelodeon show Zoey 101. However, at the age of 16, she announced that she had become pregnant, and she stopped acting.




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Spears’ exit ended up being temporary, and she came back to showbiz after five years. She released several country music recordings, and in 2021, after returning to acting, it was announced that the now 30-year-old Spears would release a memoir in 2022. She also appeared with her daughter Maddie on the Nickelodeon game show Double Dare in 2019 (pictured).


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Mara Wilson starred in a trifecta of classic movies before she turned 10 years old – 1993’s Mrs. Doubtfire, a 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street, and 1996’s Matilda. In which she played the title character. After starring in 2000’s Thomas and the Magic Railroad, she went on a 12-year hiatus from acting.


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In 2012, Wilson finally explained why she had stopped making movies, describing filmmaking as “tedious.” Now 34 years old, she’s done a little acting since then, appearing on Broad City and doing a voice acting role on BoJack Horseman, but she clearly does not miss being a movie star, as she made clear in a New York Times opinion piece. “It was cute when 10-year-olds sent me letters saying they were in love with me,” she wrote. “It was not when 50-year-old men did.”



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