Coping with cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is the use of technology such as mobile phones and the internet to bully other people. Coping with cyberbullying can be difficult because it can happen at any time of the day.

What is cyberbullying?

  • Emailing or texting threatening or nasty messages to people.
  • Posting an embarrassing or humiliating video of someone on a video-hosting site such as YouTube.
  • Harassing someone by repeatedly sending texts or instant messages in a chat room.
  • Setting up profiles on social networking sites, such as Facebook, to make fun of someone.
  • 'Happy slapping', which is when people use their mobiles to film and share videos of physical attacks.
  • Posting or forwarding someone else's personal or private information or images without their permission.
  • Sending viruses that can damage another person’s computer.
  • Making abusive comments about another user on a gaming site.

Are you a cyberbully?

Even if you’re not the one who started the bullying, you become part of it when you laugh at a message that could be hurtful or threatening to someone else, or forward it on.

Don't let yourself get dragged into cyberbullying. Think about the impact of what you say in text messages, chat rooms and emails. Could your words be used to hurt someone else, or could they be turned against you?

In some cases, cyberbullying can be a criminal offence. For example, it could be treated as a form of harassment or threatening behaviour.

How to respond to cyberbullying

Do

  • Talk to someone you trust. This could be a teacher, parent, carer or friend. Schools have a responsibility to ensure that students aren’t bullied, and they can take action even if the bullying is happening outside school. You can call ChildLine confidentially on 0800 1111.
  • Report the bullying to the internet service provider (ISP) if the bullying happened online. Ask a parent or teacher for help, or look at Chatdanger, which has safety advice about mobiles and internet use.
  • Report the bullying to your mobile phone provider if you’ve received bullying texts or calls on your mobile. You may even have to change your number if you're repeatedly bullied through your phone.
  • Block instant messages and emails. Ask a parent or teacher for help, or look at the Chatdanger website for advice on how to do this.
  • Report serious bullying, such as physical or sexual threats, to the police.

Don't

  • Don’t delete the upsetting emails or messages. Keep the evidence. This will help to identify the bully if the bullying is anonymous. Even people who use a false name or email can be traced.
  • Don’t reply. This is what the bully wants, and it might make things worse.

How to avoid being cyberbullied

The best way to avoid being cyberbullied is to use the internet and mobile phones carefully.

  • Don’t give out personal details, such as your phone number or address, in a chat room.
  • Think carefully before posting photos or videos of you or your friends.
  • Only give your mobile number to close friends.
  • Protect passwords, and never give your friends access to your accounts.
  • Don’t forward nasty emails.
  • Learn how to block instant messages or use mail filters to block emails.
  • Know how to report bullying to internet service providers or website administrators. Ask a parent or teacher for help, or look at the advice on Chatdanger's website.

Information and help with cyberbullying

BeatBullying

BeatBullying allows young people to get help and support each other online. If you're being cyberbullied or bullied in any other way, you can log on to the site and chat to a cybermentor. The cybermentors are young people too and can help you work out what to do next.

Chatdanger

Chatdanger contains safety advice on mobiles, chatrooms, email, online games and instant messaging.

Digizen

Digizen focuses on responsible use of the internet. Its section on cyberbullying includes a short film called Let’s fight it together, about how a boy deals with being cyberbullied.

Page last reviewed: 03/06/2013

Next review due: 03/06/2015

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