'This is what you should know about cyberbullying'

2 September 2019

One in ten young people are bullied online via WhatsApp, Snapchat, YouTube et cetera. Beau Oldenburg is investigating such bullying within an NWO Vici project. Now she has summarised what you should know about cyberbullying in an infographic. This includes tips for victims.

Boy sitting separately from his classmates holding his phone and looking sad

Besides researching bullying, sociologist Beau Oldenburg is keen to share the knowledge she acquires. The infographic [in Dutch] she made about cyberbullying includes three concrete tips for victims. First: block the bully. Oldenburg explains: 'By doing that you are effectively saying: "Stop". And that is important. Before you block, you can decide whether you send a message in which you explicitly state that you do not appreciate the content. You should block immediately afterwards because it's best not to engage in a conversation with the bully.'

Infographic cyber bullyingThe infographic (click for PDF-version)

No solution

The second tip: tell an adult about the bullying. Oldenburg: 'Victims would rather not talk about bullying because they are ashamed. In the case of cyberbullying, they are also scared that their parents will demand they go off-line and hand in their phone. That makes them even more ashamed. Furthermore, that does not solve the problem because then the child will become entirely excluded from the group.'

If you are the adult who the victim unburdens his or her heart to, then make sure you do nothing behind the child's back, emphasises Oldenburg. 'Once you have talked through it together properly, decide what needs to happen next. The only exception to this is if criminal activities have taken place, for example, with nude pictures. In that case, you need to convince the child that this must be reported to the police.'

Finally, Oldenburg advises victims to collect evidence. 'If you go to the police, but also if you want to raise the behaviour with the perpetrator or perpetrators, then it is important to make a dossier in the form of screenshots. Sometimes bullying comes from false accounts and then finding the sender can be difficult. Collect what you can.'

Extensive news coverage

During the period in which Oldenburg worked on her PhD research into bullying at primary schools, from 2011 onwards, the attention for bullying increased throughout society. Several suicides by young people who had been bullied received extensive news coverage. When Oldenburg gained her doctorate in 2017, she concluded that teachers at primary schools do not sufficiently understand bullying. Now she is supervising two PhD students herself. One of them is investigating how teachers can gain a good picture of the social dynamics in their class, and the other is itemising new and existing intervention methods.

Beau OldenburgBeau Oldenburg

More information

Beau Oldenburg (1987) [website in Dutch] is working as a postdoc within the Talent Scheme project ‘Anti-bullying programs 2.0: Tailored interventions to minimize bullying’ of Vici laureate Prof. D.R. (René) Veenstra at the University of Groningen, Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences. Oldenburg gained her doctorate at the start of 2017 within the same programme for her thesis entitled ‘Bullying in schools. The role of teachers and classmates’ [only in Dutch].

Source: NWO