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Teenage Turmoil: Tackling Cyberbully Frenemies To Foster Psychological Safety

“You, with your words like knives and swords and weapons that you use against me. You will knock me off my feet again, got me feeling like a nothing. You, with your voice like nails on a chalkboard, calling me out when I’m wounded. You, picking on the weaker man, you can take me down with just one single blow. Someday I'll be big enough so you can't hit me. And all you’re ever gonna be is mean." -Taylor Swift, Mean, Speak Now, 2010


My teenage daughter was cyberbullied.

The negative behavior started over two years ago with a picture and cruel words on social media. Last Fall, it escalated into many posts. SnapChat was the tool of choice and several of the spiteful updates included photos of my daughter.  


We vaguely knew the family so we reached out to better understand what was going on and more importantly, why. We wanted to know what had initiated the ugly behavior, especially since our kids weren’t in contact. The parents didn’t have answers and weren’t open to discussing the situation because they, “they didn’t want to put pressure on their child.” We had screenshots to prove evidence of the hostility, but they denied it’d occurred and said they needed, “to protect their child from further harm of dangerous accusations.”


🧨Dangerous, is right.  On so many levels.

Let’s be clear here, cyberbullying IS bullying!


⁉️My first thought was, ‘what about the pressure their kid is putting on our daughter?’ That obviously didn’t matter to these head-in-the-sand-ostrich-parents. Never mind that their child was clearly crying out for help with their deviant behavior, it was frustrating that we were helpless to stop it.


As a result, this incident ignited me to better understand cyberbullying. My number one goal with this research was to protect our child. Additionally, I was motivated by parental indifference, otherwise known as ostrich parenting, to a very serious matter. I wanted clarity on,

  • Different types cyberbullying

  • Cyberbullying impact on teens

  • Parental indifference and its consequences

  • Legal avenues for parents

  • What parents can do to protect their teens

  • Community awareness and prevention


As someone very familiar with red flags in friendships, I know all too well what negative bullying behaviors can do. In an effort to help parents understand the ins/ outs of cyberbullying this blog is the first in a four-part series. This post explains what teenage cyberbullying is, why it exists, the various types of online harassment, and how it shows up.


In the digital age where connectivity is at our fingertips, the dark side of online bullying looms large. This behavior is quite common, especially among teenagers, and poses a serious threat to their Psychological Safety.  Cyberbullying describes a broad set of online behaviors and includes one-time incidents. It’s defined as:


“The use of electronic means to harass, threaten, intimidate, harm, shame embarrass, or target another person.”


Cyberbullying is when a weak person uses keyboard courage to tear someone else down. It’s different than face-to-face bullying, because it leaves a digital footprint – a trail of data online, that’s permanent. Potentially bad for the bully, but good for the victim in the sense that it provides a record that can prove useful to show evidence and help stop the abuse. 

Parents frequently ask, “Why do these types of bullying behaviors occur?” There are many reasons 'why,' but the main internal drivers stem from, fear, low self-esteem, insecurity, jealousy and the need for control.


This series focuses specifically on cyberbullying, but for your awareness, there are other types of online bullying behaviors:

  • Cyberharassment is threatening behavior or unwanted advances directed at another using the internet and other forms of computer communications.

  • Cyberstalking often called ‘harassment by computer,’ involves the repeated and deliberate use of the internet and electronic communication tools to frighten, intimidate or harass someone.

  • Doxing is the action or process of searching for and publishing private or identifying information about a particular individual on the internet, typically with malicious intent.


Cyberbullying can be:

  • 24x7: Technology doesn’t shut down.

  • Long-term: Content goes into the black hole of the world-wide-web.

  • Anonymous: It’s easy to hide and disguise without fear of repercussions.


There are many ways that cyberbullying rears its ugly head. It often involves repeated harassment and can be done by impersonating someone and sending malicious messages to others on their behalf or through fake accounts, spreading false rumors via social media platforms, or sharing personal or private information without consent. Cyberbullying can occur through SMS, text, apps, social media, and online forums and gaming. Cyberbullying can include:

  • Harassment involves the relentless targeting of individuals through hurtful messages, threats, or intimidation online. It creates an environment of fear and anxiety for victims, disrupting their sense of safety in digital spaces.

  • Spreading Rumors often leverages social media platforms to spread false information or rumors about their targets. These rumors can quickly escalate, tarnishing a teenager's reputation and causing significant emotional distress.

  • Sharing Inappropriate Content is a common tactic used to share embarrassing content, such as photos or videos, without the victim's consent. This invasion of privacy can lead to profound public humiliation and psychological trauma.


Cyberbullying is a complicated topic. To help you better understand how to navigate it, I’ll be dedicating a page on my website specifically for this topic. I’m also talking to schools to help foster awareness about what parents can do, and where they can find support. Additionally, in an effort to ‘free the world from frenemies,’  you can find tips and advice in my book, ‘Behind Frenemy Lines.’ Message me with your proof of purchase, if you’d like the .pdf workbook to go along with it.


Stay tuned for part II of this series, where I take a deep dive into the impact of cyberbullying on teen victims, define what parental indifference is, and tips on how to break the vicious cycle.  


Today I will be fearless. Today I am grateful.

Shine on beautiful people. 🦄


P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about psychological safety and how to deal with female frenemies, follow me on LinkedIn!



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