Healthy lives for young people
Staying Safe Online

Cyber Bullying

However it happens, and whatever form it takes, bullying is horrible and unfortunately, the internet and mobile phones provide bullies with a variety of opportunities to get their kicks.

In fact, the internet has spawned a new breed of bully called a ‘troll’ which describes a person who sets out to deliberately upset people or start arguments.

Bullying online or trolling can feel somehow ‘safer’ to bullies because they’re not standing in front of you and seeing your reaction. They may even hide behind another name. Bullies can target people in a number of ways such as via social networking and video sharing sites, email, text and instant messaging or in online chat rooms.

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
  • Joining in on other people’s rude or abusive posts
  • Leaving racist, homophobic, transphobic or sexist 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
  • 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. Read more about cyber bullying and the law, on Cybersmile. And bear in mind that awareness of online bullying is growing and there are many charities and organisations who have been set up to stamp out online bullying and help those affected by it.

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 retaliate or reply to the messages. This will often make things worse
  • If it has happened on social media, block the bully. Get advice on how to do this on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Vine’s own pages.
  • Don’t delete anything. Keep messages or take a screenshot as evidence
  • Tell an adult you trust and let them know what’s happened
  • Contact an organisation who can help you, such as ChildLine
  • Get more advice from Thinkuknow
  • 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
  • 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
  • If you’re upset or angry, don’t take it out on other people. You need allies and it won’t help to push people away
  • If someone else is being bullied, don’t stand back and watch. Offer them some support and point them to the advice on this and other sites that can help

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.

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