Concerned teen girl on phone

How to spot the signs of cyberbullying and address it head-on with the young person in your life.

What to Do About Cyberbullying

Today’s bullies are where many of us are spending more and more time – online. 

As we support kids and teens in staying safe and making good choices, it’s important to be aware of cyberbullying, how to recognize the signs and what to do stop the situation.

Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place digitally – via phones, tablets and computers. According to the Pew Research Center, 95% of teens have access to a smartphone, making it a common tool for cyberbullying. In 2019, the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System estimates that about 16% of high school students were electronically bullied that year.

Cyberbullying can happen via texts and messaging, and on social media, email, gaming sites, and apps and forums. It can take many forms, but generally has one or both of these in common: 

  • Sharing someone’s personal or private information in order to purposefully cause embarrassment or humiliation
  • Sending, posting or sharing content about someone else that is false, cruel, negative and/or harmful

Know the Signs of Cyberbullying

Much like in-person bullying, many kids choose not to report it, so it’s important to be able to spot the signs. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, here are some things to look for when you’re worried the young person in your life is being cyberbullied.
A child being cyberbullied may:

  • Avoid using the Internet
  • Seem worried or stressed after receiving an email, text or other message
  • Withdraw from friends, family and social events
  • Have declining grades
  • Show signs of low self-esteem or fear
  • Stop eating or sleeping
  • In serious cases, consider suicide*

Dealing with a Cyberbully

If you find out your young person is indeed being cyberbullied, remember that you can provide support. Consider discussing guidelines to promote safety online, and teach your young person to:

  • Not respond
  • Save the evidence**
  • If applicable, meet with school administrators to discuss cyberbullying policies and next steps
  • If possible, talk about the situation with the bully’s parent or guardian

Talk to your young person about being an ally to the victim when they come across situations of cyberbullying online. If they witness someone else being cyberbullied, they should:

  • Never forward embarrassing photos or messages
  • Not comment on insulting posts
  • Be an Upstander. If it is safe to do so, interrupt bullying behavior. Report cyberbullying to websites, teachers, etc.

When you’re equipped to identify the signs of cyberbullying, you can better help the young person in your life. It’s also critical to keep an open line of communication around digital safety, empowering your young person to be an informed digital citizen who can prevent, recognize and stop cyberbullying in its tracks.

Learn more about how Boys & Girls Clubs of America is committed to the safety and wellbeing of millions of young people by creating safe, inclusive spaces; developing programs that support digital citizenship; and our commitment to stopping bullying.


*If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a toll-free number 1-800-273-TALK(8255) that connects the caller to a certified crisis center near where the call is placed. The Lifeline is available for everyone, is free, and confidential. Talking with someone about your thoughts and feelings can save your life.

** Remember, any online harassment that is sexual in nature should be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline at or 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).


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