In the wake of the tragic suicide of 15 year old Amanda Todd I want to provide children, teens and parents with some advice on how to deal with cyber-bullying. For anyone dealing with cyber-bullies or bullies in general, it can feel hopeless. This advice is designed to help you stop the bullying, get support, and stay positive. Not all of the advice will make sense for each person, so choose the bullying advice that works for you. The most important thing is that you reach out for help. You don’t have to deal with it by yourself.
Talk to a trusted adult, whether it’s a parent, grandparent, aunt/uncle, teacher, coach, youth group leader or your church. Ask for their help. Keep asking until you find someone who can and will help you. If need be, report it to the police. Police take these types of incidents very seriously. Don’t let the bullies know you’re upset. Bullies are trying to hurt your feelings and make you angry, scared and embarrassed. It’s hard, but try not to show when they’re getting to you. Your best defense is to stay calm and/or laugh it off. Don’t reply in anger online. Stand up for yourself by telling bullies clearly and calmly to “Stop.” Walk away or turn off your computer or cell-phone. Ask for a mediator. Sometimes bullies are angry about something they think you may have said or done. Sitting down with an impartial adult or peer mediator may help resolve the disagreement so it doesn’t go any further. Find a support group. If possible, make friends who are not connected to the bullying group. If the bullies are at school, look into joining a group, team or activity away from school. Find a local peer counseling group or hotline such as the kids-helpline. Sometimes it helps to talk with someone you don’t know or who has gone through something similar. Your school guidance counselor can usually help you find local resources. Don’t bully others. You may be tempted to lash out at someone else, or to “get even” with the bullies, but doing so can make the situation worse and even get you into serious trouble. Keep a journal. Write down the times you felt bullied. Not only can it help to put your feelings on paper, but it is also useful to keep a record of the experiences in case you need to show the history to someone else such as the police. Don’t provide ammunition. Avoid taking suggestive photos, sharing too much information online or “friending” people you don’t know or trust. Cancel social networking, email and cell phone accounts and open new accounts. Share the new information with smaller groups of friends. “Unfriend” or block the people who are involved in the bullying. Don’t let the bullies follow you into your own home by reading their comments online. Don’t give up. Bullying is not OK. You have a right to feel safe in school, in your home and around your community. Remember that it WILL get better. You aren’t the only person going through this. As bad as it may seem, you can get through it.
Most importantly, remember to ask for help, support or advise from any of the people or organizations I have listed above as soon as you can.

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