The following activity was designed by
COPA to help people deal with Cyberbullying * Cyberbullying is a way of hurting someone using the internet. It’s like bullying, but online.
If you’re being bullied, it’s important that you know that there is nothing to be ashamed of, or feel embarrassed about.
The people who bully want you to keep it all quiet and secret. They want you to feel ashamed, and to blame yourself for being bullied. Our opinion: Don’t be ashamed. And don’t keep it a secret.
Cyberbullying, and every other kind of bullying, can be a painful and scary thing to talk about. So kudos on checking this site out. We know that it took courage to come here.
The following activity will:
Help you learn about bullying
Help you feel stronger
And help you figure out different ways to protect yourself
To start out, we’re going to look at a number of different cyberbullying scenarios. In each scenario we’ll talk about what you can do to deal with them in your own way.
After, you’ll have a chance to practice what to do if you are being cyberbullied — or what you can do if you see someone else being cyberbullied.
If you want to talk to someone right now call the
Kids Help Phone.
Their number is
It’s free for everyone. Plus you don’t have to give your name or address – you can stay anonymous.
To better understand bullying, it’s important that we start by talking about rights.
In Canada, we believe that everyone has certain rights, and the right to protect them. Most importantly, everyone has the right to be free of hurt, harm, abuse and violence.
or in COPA’s words, everyone has the right to be:
These three rights cover everything!
If any of these rights get taken away, it means that someone has hurt you.
Rights can mean different things to different people. Rights can also mean different things at different times.
What does it feel like to be Safe?
When you feel safe. It’s kind of like a feeling of peace.
You might feel really safe at school. Or, you might feel safe at home.
You might feel safe when your best friend gives you a hug, but not when you get hugged by your cousin.
You might feel safe doing schoolwork on your own, but not so safe during a group exercise.
How and where you feel safe can change depending on the person, the place, or how you are feeling at the time.
You might feel safe at home, or depending on who’s at home with you, not at all!
Everyone has the right to feel safe!
What does it feel like to be Strong?
You can feel strong in two ways.
You can feel strong in your body. And you can feel strong inside — in your mind.
Feeling strong might mean feeling confident about protecting yourself physically. You might use your body, your voice, or your body language.
Or, you might be strong when you feel brave or courageous.
Everyone has the right to be strong, inside and out.
What does it feel like to be Free?
Being free means different things to different people.
To people in Canada, being free means having the right to express your thoughts and opinions, and to choose your own beliefs.
It’s hard to feel safe and strong, if you don’t feel free.
Everyone has the right to feel free!
SIDE NOTE: The right to be free covers more than just this. To learn more about the right to be free, and other fundamental rights,
Freedom is great! But there’s always a cost to freedom: responsibility.
Freedom can only exist if we choose to respect other people’s rights as well as our own.
In order to be free, it’s our responsibility to consider how other people see things, and respect how others choose to express themselves.
When someone takes away any of your rights, it means that they’ve hurt you in some way.
Sometimes it’s an accident, and other times it’s done on purpose, with the intention of hurting someone.
To us, at COPA, if someone takes away your rights, that means that an assault has taken place.
Knowing what assault is helps you better understand the difficult situations that happen to you, your family, friends, and classmates.
Knowing about your rights, and what assault is, can actually make you safer, stronger and freer!
To make it simple, we often talk about four different kinds of assault.
You probably know about each of these, even though you might not call them by the names we’re using here.
This is usually the easiest for people to understand and react to.
If you go home with a big cut or a bruise on your face, people are probably going notice and react right away.
Verbal assault is very common.
We’ve all seen this or lived with plenty of it.
Mental or psychological assault
Mental abuse is harder to describe. It could be mind-games, cruel pranks, or mean comments that are supposedly "just jokes".
It can also mean excluding people in some way – leaving them out on purpose to make them feel bad.
Sexual assault is usually the hardest one for anyone to think about or talk about. And it’s much more common than you would think because so many people are afraid to talk about it and keep it secret – sometimes their whole lives.
It’s true though, that when you start to know more about it and have words to talk about it, you feel better. Especially when someone is there for you, listening and caring.
Most people think that sexual assault means that someone is having actual physical (sexual) contact with the other person.
But it can also mean giving someone a certain look, or sending a message or comments or pictures.
The word bullying is used a lot these days. At school, at home, online, in the newspapers. It gets misused a lot too.
Sometimes people call any situation where someone gets hurt, bullying.
To us at COPA bullying is one way of assaulting someone.
To explain: Maybe two people just get mad at each other, maybe even really good friends. They get in a fight and then suddenly one person hits the other and yells horrible things at them.
They are for sure hurting their friend and even taking away their rights. It is a physical assault.
But, that’s different than bullying.
With bullying, someone is (or some people are) going out of their way to hurt one person in particular (or one group in particular).
It’s like they have a plan of some kind to torment the other person, to cause them pain and they zero in on that person or people. Make them a target. For their own pleasure. For no good reason whatsoever.
In these situations, there just aren’t two sides of the story – it’s not a conflict. When someone is targeted like that, the person or people doing the hurting are responsible and the person or people being bullied are not at all to blame.
People who are being bullied try to find a reason for being bullied, and try to change how they are, how they dress, how they speak, all kinds of things. But, this has nothing to do with the bullying.
You have probably seen that all kinds of people get bullied. It is
never the fault of the person who is being bullied.
This is true, whether it’s in person or online.
Can you list a few ways that someone could be assaulted online psychologically?
Can you list a couple of ways that someone could verbally assault someone online?
Cyberbullying and Assault
When someone takes away your rights when you’re online, that is also a form of assault.
It doesn’t matter if you are with that person in real life, or if it’s happening online.
There are different ways assault can happen online.
Did you know that these are also forms of assault and cyberbullying?
Posting photos of someone else without their real permission.
Chain Mail (emails that say that something bad will happen in the next 24 hours if you don’t forward them).
Sharing someone’s private information without their permission (like their address).
Keeping Your Rights
If any of these kinds of assault have happened to you, it’s never your fault. And it’s not OK.
You haven’t asked to be hurt. The person doing the harm is the one who is responsible.
We’ve found that when someone is trying to take your rights away, it helps to be 'assertive'.
Being assertive is not the same as being aggressive — which often involves some kind of revenge.
Being assertive means keeping your rights without taking the other person’s rights away. This can be kind of tricky, and we don’t really learn about this much.
Let’s talk more about this stuff. Here are COPA’s thoughts:
Different Ways to Respond…
What’s it mean?
Could be you decide to ignore it, or laugh it off.
What’s the problem?
Well, it might send a message that you don’t mind, or that your rights don’t matter (and, that’s not true).
It might mean that the person who’s hurting you is even more convinced they are in charge and can get away with hurting you more.
At COPA, we’ve seen that being passive doesn’t really work.
What’s it mean?
Could mean you do something to make the person who’s hurting you feel awful, maybe even taking revenge and doing the same thing to them.
What the problem?
It sends a message that you don’t care about their rights either.
It also might corner them into lashing out against you and turn it into a bigger fight.
At COPA we’ve seen that being aggressive doesn’t really work.
What’s it mean?
Being assertive means you are standing up for your rights, and that you won’t take away other people’s rights either.
Usually, bullies expect you to be passive or even aggressive. Most people are surprised by assertiveness. Surprise can work to your advantage.
Consent is a word that gets used a lot these days. And lots of people tell us that they don’t really know what it means.
To COPA it means giving someone your full permission for someone to do something – whatever that is.
When someone says YES clearly it means YES.
When they say NO it really means NO.
It gets a little complicated here, because sometimes people say yes or no, but they don’t mean it.
We’ve learned that part of giving consent, or thinking that someone is consenting means paying attention to the way they say it and the body language they use.
This could mean that if someone doesn’t say anything at all, or answers unclearly, or even says MAYBE that is NOT considered consent.
MAYBE doesn’t mean YES.
It might mean NO.
MAYBE might mean that the person is thinking about it, or just not sure, or worried about saying NO.
At COPA we use the term authentic consent. This means that the person asking for consent needs to be absolutely sure that the other person is really, truly saying yes – that it’s really clear.
When someone posts a photo of you online or shares personal information about you, it is important that they have your real, true, authentic consent.
That means clearly asking your permission first, and really making sure you are really, truly fine with it. And it’s totally fine to take time to think about it, and even ask someone you trust.
Let’s see what this might look like in real life, but before we continue, we have this to say (again – sorry!)
It’s just not your fault if someone does something to hurt you. NEVER.
Scenario - Someone posts a photo of you without your consent.