Bullying, in the traditional sense is considered to be a physical act of contact. However, as technology has advanced, bullies have found new ways to torment their victims. Text, email and social media are a great source of communication, however they have now also become some of the most common channels for bullies to use.

What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is any form of bullying which takes place online or through smartphones. Cyber bullying is rife on the internet and most young people will experience it or see it at some time. In a recent survey by Bullying UK, 56% of young people said they have seen others be bullied online and 42% have felt unsafe online. Cyber bullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so the victim has no way of escaping it.

There are different ways a bully can harrass someone:

  • Text message bullying involves the sending of unwelcome texts that are threatening or may cause unnecessary discomfort
  • Phone call bullying via mobile phones either by making silent calls or leaving abusive messages
  • Email bullying may be used to send bullying or threatening messages
  • Picture/video clip bullying via phone cameras may be used to make an individual feel threatened or embarrassed. ‘Happy slapping’ involves filming and sharing physical attacks
  • Chat room bullying may involve sending menacing or upsetting responses to people when they are in a web based chat room
  • Bullying through instant messaging is an internet based form of bullying where individuals are sent unpleasant messages as they conduct real time conversations online

There are several different types of cyberbullying:

  • Harassment – sending offensive, rude, and insulting messages and being abusive. Making nasty or humiliating comments on posts, photos and in chat rooms. Being explicitly offensive on gaming sites.
  • Denigration – when someone may send information about another person that is fake, damaging and untrue. Sharing photos of someone for the purpose to ridicule, altering photos of others and posting them online, spreading fake rumours and gossip. This can be on any site online or on apps.
  • Flaming – when someone is purposely using really extreme and offensive language and getting into online arguments and fights. They do this to cause reactions and enjoy the fact it causes someone to get distressed.
  • Impersonation – when someone will hack into someone’s email or social networking account and use the person’s online identity to send or post vicious or embarrassing material to/about others. The making up of fake profiles on social network sites, apps and online are common place and it can be really difficult to get them closed down.
  • Outing and Trickery – when someone may share personal information about another or trick someone into revealing secrets and forward it to others. They may also do this with private images and videos too.
  • Cyber Stalking – repeatedly sending messages that include threats of harm, harassment, intimidating messages, or engaging in other online activities that make a person afraid for his or her safety. The actions may be illegal too depending on what they are doing.
  • Exclusion – when others intentionally leave someone out of a group such as group messages, online apps, gaming sites and other online engagement. This is also a form of social bullying and is very common. 

Are You at Risk of Becoming a Cyberbully?

Although it may sound silly, it is actually easy to fall in to becoming a cyberbully. It is easy to get carried away as the method of communication is so easy and so natural to many of us. It is a lot easier to click send than it is to physically attack somebody.

Cyber bullying is a serious offence and as technology advances so does the offence. Just because you can’t see the damage you are doing, it is still there. Before you click send, think. How would you feel if you received that message?

Being bullied online can affect someone enormously. Being bullied can impact on a person’s self-esteem, confidence and social skills. Try to consider the impact your words may have and think twice before posting.

REMEMBER – If you post abuse about anyone else online or if you send threats, you can be traced by the police without any difficulty. Every time you visit a website or make a posting, your internet service provider, Sky, BT or Virgin, has an electronic note of your activity. You can still be traced even if you create an anonymous email address like Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo.

What to Do if You Are a Victim of Cyberbullying

If you receive any threat of violence, instance of cyberbullying or electronic harassment or recognise any of the mentioned behaviour in someone, this must be reported immediately to your SP Training Safeguarding Lead or email

Pretending something is not there will not make it go away. Do not be embarrassed; telling anyone is better than dealing with it alone!

You can also access some great websites for help and advice on how to deal with bullies. The best advice is – do not respond it will only encourage them!

Visit for great help and advice if you are being bullied or know someone that is being bullied.

Tips to Stay Safe Online

  • Keep safe by using unusual passwords and do not use the same password for all of your accounts. Use a combination of letters, lowercase, uppercase, symbols and numbers. Don’t use any part of your name or email address and don’t use your birth date either because that’s easy for people who know you to guess. Don’t let anyone see you signing in and if they do, change the password as soon as you can.
  • If you are using a public computer such as one in a library, computer shop, or even a shared family computer, be sure to sign out of any web service you are using before leaving the computer so that you can protect your privacy.
  • Think twice before you post anything online because once it’s out there you can’t take it back. It is easy for any comments or posts you make online to be taken out of context and these could be damaging to you in the long term. Read more about digital footprints and how this can affect your life both online and offline
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