September is synonymous with back-to-school, as students return to the classroom, reconnect with friends and teachers and share tales of summer fun.  For some, however, back-to-school often means a return to cyberbullying.                 

The Cyberbullying Research Center in the U.S. defines cyberbullying as “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones and other electronic devices.”  Examples include sending hurtful or threatening messages, posting embarrassing pictures or information about another person, and maliciously impersonating someone online. Global media reports show that, in rare but highly publicized instances, Internet bullying can intensify to such a degree that young people may see taking their own lives as the only way out.    

Newly released Microsoft research shows that, on average, 27 percent of adolescents have been exposed to cyberbullying in the last 12 months. 

In an effort to create a culture of safety and to promote good digital citizenship worldwide, Microsoft has dedicated itself to inform parents, caregivers, teachers and school officials about cyberbullying.  As part of these efforts, we’ve published 10 tips for tackling cyberbullying.  Examples include:

· Be an advocate. Kids need to know that adults can and will provide positive, active and predictable support.  And, that they should never, under any circumstance, bully someone.

· Talk about it. Encourage kids to report bullying to a trusted adult.

· Look for signs of online bullying. For example, if kids get upset when they're online, or they show a reluctance to go to or be at school.

· Encourage them to make friends. Urge friends to look out for one another. Cyberbullies are less likely to target those whom they perceive as well-supported.

No individual, company or organization can combat an issue such as cyberbullying alone; it is a shared responsibility between students, teachers, administrators, parents and communities.  As kids head back to school, teach them safer online habits and practices, and encourage them to stand up to cyberbullying.

Please explore and utilize our cyberbullying prevention resources available at our Safety & Security Center, including a factsheet, brochure, article and recent cyberbullying research and findings. For additional support, contact groups such as iKeepSafe, Wired Safety and the Family Online Safety Institute, who work to prevent cyberbullying and reduce other online risks.