StopCyberbullying was created as a program of the world’s first cybersafety and help group formed by cyberlawyer Parry Aftab in 1995. It became a popular section of the WiredSafety and WiredKids websites. Operated entirely by unpaid volunteers from around the world, the StopCyberbullying.org and StopCyberbullying.com websites were launched in 2006.
Now, a new charity-in-formation, The Cybersafety Group, is carrying on the work of WiredSafety.
The Cybersafety Group is designed to provide the next generation of cybersafety help, support and training. It will professionalize the field of youth cybersafety, provide a forward-thinking approach to cybersafety that is relevant in the face of emerging risks and issues. These include IoT, voice-activated devices, a changing privacy landscape, screen time, radicalization and hate, cyberwellness and mental health, digital ethics and universal access (special needs, at-risk youth and mental health issues).
Children’s, tweens’ and teens’ cybersafety and wellbeing are the top priority for The Cybersafety Group’s upcoming portal, Cybersafety.org. It is directed to youth and youth-serving stakeholders. Everything on Cybersafety.org is provided without charge through sponsorships. It and its programs are designed to empower, not frighten, inspire, not restrict access, and provide the digital life skills our children, tweens and teens need to succeed in an ever-increasingly digital world.
Parents and caregivers will be provided with skill development and awareness they need to help guide and protect their children, their family and themselves in an increasingly digital world. They will learn how to help their children strengthen the “filter between their ears” and appreciate the power and challenges of digital innovation and engagement.
It runs the award-winning StopCyberbullying program, the Teenangels and Tweenangels youth expert leadership programs, Cybersafety Agents (6-12 yr. olds), Cyberlawenforcement, Cyber-Wellbeing and CyberSafetyMoms. It will be run largely by trained unpaid volunteers and designed by the world’s leading cybersafety experts and youth. It will be offered in multiple languages, accessible formats and on multiple platforms.
Parry Aftab founded this new charity and continues as its Executive Director.
StopCyberbullying.org (mirrored at .com) is the world’s oldest site and program dedicated to cyberbullying. It provides information, awareness, education, resources and ways to get involved. Many formed after StopCyberbullying offer those things too (although we think that we offer them better 😊).
But unlike the other sites and programs that came after it, StopCyberbullying.org provides help and support for those impacted by cyberbullying, as well as assessments and coaching.
- It helps targets of cyberbullying know when to get adults involved and when the incidents should be reported to the school or police.
- It helps bystanders understand what to do when they observe cyberbullying of others.
- It helps parents, teachers and caregivers know what they can do to address the cyberbullying.
- It helps those engaged in cyberbullying others, either intentionally or inadvertently.
- It helps first responders spot the realities of the cyberbullying engagement.
- It helps young people address the emotional pain.
- It helps families of young people with special needs, and those who look, dress, worship or sound different address the online and offline bigotry.
- And it helps medical and mental health professionals understand the physical and emotional effects of cyberbullying, on all involved.
If StopCyberbullying was First Published in 2006, Why was It Taken Down for Almost a Year?
When StopCyberbullying’s founder, cyberlawyer Parry Aftab, discovered content among its hundreds of pages that referenced MySpace, she took down the site entirely. She vowed to rebuild it as a whole, fearing that other out-of-date content might be hidden deep within the rest.
It took longer than she expected to rebuild a hundred-page site from scratch. We’ve been researching, writing and editing as fast as we can.
How is the New StopCyberbullying Site Different from the Original?
This entirely new site focuses on the needs of the users. It’s organized differently from other sites and from the original StopCyberbullying site. These fall into a few categories and have been identified over the 26 years that Parry has been running cybersafety help groups.
- Need Help. Emergency, just-in-time and “need to know” help needs. (Sometimes in an emergency or perceived emergency, and sometimes seeking answers for an immediate issue, question or situation.)
- Want Information. When someone wants information about cyberbullying, how it works, the laws and impact of cyberbullying, it’s quick to answer. They just want easily-accessed information or a quick overview to help them understand cyberbullying basics, statistics, info for school assignments and researchers or quick info on the realities about cyberbullying.
- WantEducation/Training. Unlike simple information or answers to a quick question, some people want to learn about cyberbullying, its impact and what can be done to address it. They want classes. They are willing to devote more time and energy to educating themselves. They may even want to teach others, once they learn it themselves.
- Need Assessments/Coaching. Everyone needs to understand where they stand or where their children stand. Once they do, they need to know how to address gaps, vulnerabilities and approaches. We help them assess what they need and help provide it to them.
Our Resource and Library Sections:
- Resources. StopCyberbullying has more than US$6 million in assets, programs and content on cyberbullying developed over two decades, all of which have been updated over the last 6 months.
These include infographics, animations, videos, public service announcements, printables, checklists, posters, coloring sheets, comic books, cyberbullying mystery cases and games, activity sheets, quizzes, surveys and shareable content.
Many will shortly be available in several languages and learning formats, some being regionalized and culturized for different countries, groups and communities. And it’s all available without charge and may be shared (as long as our rules about not changing our materials, linking back and always attributing our content are followed).
- Advice. Sometimes information and even classes don’t provide the help you need. Sometimes you need advice to help you address difficult situations, ongoing challenges and adopt better digital hygiene to help prevent cyberbullying. The advice programs offer practical guidance and ways to improve cybersafety, privacy and security, how to determine if your child is ready for a cellphone and how to become a more trustworthy adult.
- Timely Tips. (As the world evolves, risks arise and new technology is introduced or crises arise (forcing people to self-quarantine at home with their families, for example) hearing from trustworthy experts when needed is a big help. These experts are also accessible for news networks, journalists and policymakers.
- Community. Being able to engage with others in the same situation, or being able to share with other digital parents, or fellow middle-schoolers, or teachers is essential. During time of physical-distancing, especially, online discussions are our only way to gaining perspective or seeing what works and what doesn’t from others who have “been there and done that.” And often some of the best solutions and approaches come from each other, not the experts.
- Making It Real. Sometimes we just need to hear from others who have been through what we’re facing and survived. It’s part information, and part coaching and part advisory, but it’s really hearing the truth from others to help us deal with our own situations. These are as helpful to young people and parents in addressing their own situation as they are useful to supporting an awareness campaign or advocacy movement.
- Speakers/Presentations/Events. Schools, parenting groups, corporations and governmental agencies are always seeking qualified speakers to conduct assemblies and sessions for students, programs for parents and testimony at governmental hearings.
Our speakers, presenters and policy experts are all fully-trained, student-approved and certified. They also all have background checks and all or a portion of their fees support The Cybersafety Group charity. We even have teen speakers trained to speak to parents, policymakers and their peers.
- Advisories/Outreach. When your volunteer ranks and leadership contain some of the world’s leading experts in all related fields, 26-years of helping people with digital risks and belief that digital innovation can serve all of humankind’s needs, if carefully-designed and managed, your expertise and advice is in demand.
This includes offering experts for advisory boards (excluding any conflicting with The Cybersafety Group’s watchdog efforts), creating task forces, providing best practices oversight and standards-development.
- Engagement. Many people, especially parents, kids and teens, want to make a difference. They want to be activists, build movements, spread awareness, host events, develop content or digital messaging, teach others or contribute to a special issue.
While StopCyberbullying looks like a website, it really is the outward-facing program of a help group of people joining together to support others.
There’s Lots of Information. Where Do I Start?
The StopCyberbullying section most in demand is our “Do You Need Help?” section. StopCyberbullying consistently tries to help people in crisis and separate the true emergencies, which are referred to police, helplines or suicide hotlines immediately, from what feels like an emergency to its users or the users consider an “emergency” because it arouses strong stress and emotions. An emergency button exists at the top of all pages.
“Do You Need Help?” routes users to “It’s an Emergency!” and asks them if they are considering hurting themselves or others. This then directs them from the site to authorities, helplines and law enforcement.
Because when people are upset or fearful, everything feels like an emergency, if there is no threat of self-harm or harm to others, or other real emergencies, it directs them to non-emergency help, quick information, coaching, training, resources, engagement opportunities, etc.
High level frequently-asked questions and addressed there, with “more information” links.
How Does It All Work?
It's an Emergency!
The “Do You Need Help” landing page asks if the person or someone they know is thinking about hurt themselves or others. If so, we refer them to law enforcement, helplines or suicide hotlines.
Our “emergency” button takes them through the same process and is at the top of every page on the site. It offers some links to hotlines and helplines.
The user clicks on the section for youth, or for adults. Quick help topics appear up-front.
Then choices including common help requests appear to direct them to the right resources, guides or coaching.
They are given an option to suggest more help topics or reach out if what they need isn’t covered.
Youth users are given two options – “It’s about me” or “It’s about someone else.”
Youth “It’s About Me”
If I Need Help, Does StopCyberbullying Help Me?
Yes and no.
But, if it’s important, but not a true emergency, the “Need Help” section provides quick links to how to report abuse to the networks and what to expect, when to get police involved, to information about the laws, to ways to rank the risks – based on who is doing them cyberbullying, your child’s vulnerability and what kind of cyberbullying is happening.
We also provide helpful links to more information (such as the 80+ different ways cellphones can be used to cyberbully someone), coaching (how to respond when you find out your child is engaged in cyberbullying others or comforting your cyberbullied child and keeping your cool), learning about setting better passwords, or engaging in outreach and raising awareness.
We also provide voices of others on most pages in videos, audios, quotes and true stories shared by cyberbullies, targets, friends, teachers, police and parents to “make it real”, helping young people and adults alike gain perspective and insights.[To check out our videos, visit the video section of our Resources page.] link