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Wellbeing, Staying Safe Online

Cyber Bullying

However it happens, and whatever form it takes, bullying is horrible and unfortunately, the internet and mobile phones mean it can happen anytime

What is cyber bullying?

The internet and social media mean bullies can have access to you all the time. They might bully you in person and continue to bully you online or they might only bully you online. Cyber bullies could also be people you don’t know, these are often called ‘trolls’ and they are people who set out to deliberately upset people or start arguments.

Bullying online or trolling can feel ‘safer’ to bullies because they’re not standing in front of you and seeing your reaction. They may even hide behind another name. Cyber bullying can take place anywhere on the internet including social media, video sharing sites, text, and online chat rooms, gaming communities.

Here are some common examples of online bullying:

  • Posting threatening and unpleasant messages online
  • Sharing or tagging embarrassing images or videos of people without their permission. If these are sexual images or videos, this may be revenge porn or child abuse imagery
  • Joining in on other people’s rude or abusive posts
  • Leaving sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic or biphobic comments on people’s profile pages
  • Making unpleasant jokes or status updates about people when they are not ‘in on the joke’
  • Sending messages pushing people to engage in sexual acts- this could be child sexual exploitation
  • Showing someone pornographic pictures or videos, or sending them unwanted sexual images
  • Posting sexual comments, pictures or videos online

Bullies are clever and they may be using different methods to those described above. The rule is, if it’s upsetting you, it’s totally unacceptable and while there is no legal definition of cyber bullying within UK law, there are laws to protect against harassment or threatening behaviour.

What to do about online bullying

If you or someone you know is the victim of online bullying or if you are receiving unwanted messages that are abusive, hurtful or sexual, here’s what you can do:

Don’t respond

Don’t retaliate or reply to the messages. This will often make things worse.

If it has happened on social media, block the bully and report them through on the social media platform. If you see bullying happening to someone else, you can also report it.

If you have received messages or images that are sexual in nature, don’t send them on to anyone else. It is illegal to send naked pictures of anyone under the age of 18

Keep evidence

Don’t delete anything. Keep messages or take screenshots as evidence. You can show these to a trusted adult.

Talk to someone

Tell an adult you trust and let them know what’s happened. This might be a parent or carer or a teacher at school.

Your friends can also support you, so let them know what you’re going through instead of pushing them away.

If you don’t feel comfortable telling someone you know, you can contact an organisation who can help you, such as ChildLine

Put your safety and mental health first

Try to take time out away from your phone, even though it’s tempting to see what they’re saying about you. Having a few hours away from your phone will make you feel better and take your mind off things.

Don’t ever think it’s your fault. It just isn’t and never believe what they’re telling you. They’re not your friend and don’t have your best interests at heart

How it feels and getting over it

Being bullied, in whatever way, can make you feel terrible. It can leave you feeling scared and vulnerable, upset and embarrassed or even angry. Online bullying can intensify these feelings because it feels like you can’t get away from it. If bullying is affecting you in this way, you really need to talk to someone about it. If you’re worried about who to tell, why don’t you start by calling ChildLine on 0800 1111. The lines are open 24/7 and you can talk to their trained counsellors in complete confidence.

Once the bullying has been dealt with, you might feel like it’s knocked your confidence. This is normal and can take a bit of time to build back up again. Read these brilliant tips from ChildLine on rebuilding your confidence after online bullying which include talking to someone, dealing with feelings of guilt and anger and learning to manage when you think about it.

If you find cyber bullying is impacting your mental health it’s really important you talk to someone. If you don’t want to talk to someone who knows you, there are lots of organisations that can support you.

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