Cyberbullying Ask a group of adults what "bullying" means, and you’re likely to hear a range of answers. One person might cite physical intimidation to gain something – money or physical possessions. Someone else would point to actions designed to ostracize someone from a social group. Another could say bullying is a whisper campaign designed to smear a reputation. All of these could be considered bullying tactics.


Cyberbullying involves children and takes place over digital devices. It occurs when someone sends mean, embarrassing, untrue, or hurtful messages directly to a victim. It can also occur when the person sends the messages to someone else about another person.

Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation.

The most common places where cyberbullying occurs are:

  • Instant Message(via devices, email provider services, apps, and social media messaging)
  • Social Media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter
  • SMS (Short Message Service) also known as Text Message sent through devices
  • Email

NetSmartz, located at: is a recommended online safety education program. It provides age-appropriate videos and activities to help teach kids of all ages how to be safer online as well as information of potential online risks and empowers them to help prevent victimization by making safer choices on-and offline. Parents and teachers can find tools they can use to protect their children.


Most kids are not bullies or victims; they are bystanders. They are afraid to speak up about cyberbullying because they’re afraid of being targeted next or being called a tattletale. However, information from bystanders is critical if teachers and other trusted adults are to take action. Click here for more information about cyberbullying.

Talk to your child about not being a bystander and go over the following expectations with them:

  • Do not participate. Encourage children not to "like," share, or comment on information that has been posted about someone, and do not forward a hurtful text to others. Not participating may limit the potential damage of the messages – to others and to themselves.
  • Do not retaliate or respond negatively. If a child feels that they must respond, encourage a calm, clear, and constructive response. Angry and aggressive reactions can make a bad situation worse.
  • Encourage children (and adults!) to step away from the device so they do not resort to blaming, shaming, or retaliation. This provides time to get calm and centered so they can create a response that makes it clear that others’ digital behaviors are hurtful and unacceptable.
  • Respond privately to the person who created the hurtful message. If they feel safe doing so, it might help to follow up with the person who created or shared the hurtful message privately, either online, in a phone call, or in person. Doing so can make it clear they do not support the negative actions. It also provides an opportunity to authentically share concerns about the behavior and what might be behind it.
  • Follow up with the person who was targeted. By reaching out, they are providing support and showing that they do not agree with the negative behaviors. Additional resources on this topic can be found in the cybercrime resource directory tab.