Cybersecurity is important for Marines and their families. While part of that means keeping your online identity and information safe, it also means keeping your emotional health safe online as well — that’s why it’s important to talk about cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices, such as cell phones, computers, or tablets. Cyberbullying is also more than individuals poking fun at one another. It includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful or false content about someone else. Those who are bullied are more likely  to experience depression and anxiety, health complaints, and decreased achievement, both in school and the workplace.  And because digital information rarely actually goes away and often acts as a public record, cyberbullying can harm everyone involved, including the bully and others participating in it.

And it happens more frequently than you think. The 2014–2015 School Crime Supplement (provided by the National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics) reported that 21% of students ages 12-18 experienced bullying.

Warning Signs a Person is Being Cyberbullied, or is Cyberbullying Others

  • Person hides their screen or device when others are near and avoids discussion about what they are doing on the device
  • Social media accounts are shut down or new ones appear
  • Person avoids social situations, particularly those enjoyed in the past
  • Person becomes withdrawn, depressed, or loses interest in people and activities

What to Do When Cyberbullying Happens

  • Take Notice: Recognize if there has been a change of mood or behavior and try to explore what the cause might be
  • Ask questions to learn what’s been happening, how it started, and who is involved
  • Document the situation. Take screenshots of harmful posts or content if possible.
  • Report the situation. Most social media platforms have clear policies and reporting processes. Contact the platform to report offensive content and have it removed. If the person has received physical threats, or if a potential crime/illegal behavior occurs, report it to the police.
  • Provide support. Peers, mentors, and other trusted individuals can sometimes intervene to positively influence a situation with negative content posts. Public intervention can include posting positive comments about the person targeted to try and shift the conversation to a positive direction. Determine if more professional help is needed for those involved, such as speaking to a guidance counselor or a medical health professional. 

For more information on cyberbullying or support, reach out to your local Marine Corps Family Team Building office