Cyber bullying is when someone uses the internet or mobiles to deliberately upset someone else. This is a form of bullying and you shouldn’t have to put up with it.
How is it different to normal bullying?
By using technology like mobiles or the internet, this type of bullying can affect someone not just at school, but at home as well. Because it takes place in the virtual world, it has a 24/7 nature and can make someone feel upset or threatened in their own home.
It can sometimes be hard to identify who the cyberbully is because they could block their number or post things on a website anonymously. The nature of this type of bullying means it can have a large audience, many of whom may not even realise they are being bullies.
A positive thing about this kind of bullying is that it can be evidenced. With normal bullying, it can be one person’s word against another’s, but with cyberbullying you can save texts or print our emails / IM’s / WebPages. This can be used as proof to catch the bully and stop them upsetting someone; this could be you or a friend.
What can I do?
Save all evidence you have of the bullying. If you have nasty emails or things posted on your profile save them to your machine so you can use it as proof. Save texts or voicemails that say anything horrible. Learn how to block the bully on IM or delete them from your contacts.
Try not to reply or retaliate to things they say or do; it might make the situation worse. If you don’t respond, they are more likely to get bored and move on.
If you are being bothered via text, contact your service provider. Each network has a special area for this sort of problem. Check out their website or call them for advice or a free number change.
- O2: email@example.com or 08705214000
- Vodafone: 191 from a Vodafone phone or 08700700191 (pay monthly) & 08700776655 (pay as you go)
- 3: call 333 from a 3 phone or 0870733033
- Orange: Call 450 on an Orange phone or 07973100450
- T-Mobile: Call 150 on a T-mobile phone or 08454125000
Although bullying is not a specific criminal offence in UK law, criminal and civil laws can apply in terms of, for example, harassment or threatening behaviour, and particularly relevant for cyberbullying – threatening and menacing communications:
- Protection from Harassment Act 1997, which has both criminal and civil provision
- Malicious Communications Act 1988
- Section 43 of the Telecommunications Act 1984
- Communications Act 2003
- Public Order Act 1986
Racism and Xenophobia
If you’re being bullied because of where you come from or the colour of your skin, this is racism and depending on what is being said and where, could be a criminal offence under “inciting racial hatred” laws.
What does Xenophobia mean?
Xenophobia means someone has an unreasonable distrust or hatred of strangers, foreigners, or anything perceived as foreign or different. These kinds of feelings may be directed against you and this is unacceptable.
What should I do if someone else is being cyberbullied?
If you know someone that is being cyberbullied or have seen nasty profiles or messages going around, it is your duty to report it. Cyberbullying is really scary for the person being bullied as the audience can be huge, loads of people could be seeing the mean things that have been said and done. If you see anything that looks like cyberbullying, it is your duty to report it. Tell an adult you trust about what is going on and they will be able to help offer support to the person who is being bullied.
Don’t participate in forwarding pictures, messages or insults about a person. You may think it is a joke, but you could be really upsetting the person involved and even commiting a crime. To look at or forward this sort of stuff means you are contributing to cyberbullying.
Standing back and letting it happen can be just as bad. If you are worried that someone is getting threatened or hurt by others, offer them support or inform an adult you trust so they can help make it stop.
Always respect other people and be aware of what you’re sending and receiving whilst online.