Cyberbullying is the use of new technology, in particular mobile phones and the internet, to deliberately upset someone else.
What is different about cyberbullying?
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- Anytime, anywhere and anonymous: cyberbullying can take place at any time and can happen anywhere. Cyberbullying can happen when you are in your personal safe space, like at home. The person cyberbullying may never be in the same physical space as their target and may attempt to appear anonymous.
- Large audience and a rapid reach: the difficultly in controlling electronically circulated messages, pictures or videos means the scale and scope of cyberbullying can be greater than other forms of bullying.
- “It’s just a joke!” Some instances of cyberbullying can be unintentional. It can be the result of not thinking, for example something sent as a joke may be deeply upsetting or offensive to the recipient.
- Evidence trail: many cyberbullying incidents can themselves act as evidence. A trail of evidence can be gathered from online and mobile communications.
Cyberbullying and the law
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Although bullying is not a specific criminal offence in UK law, there are laws that can apply in terms of harassing or threatening behaviour. Some cyberbullying actions can be criminal offences under a range of different laws including the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, Malicious Communications Act 1988, section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 and the Public Order Act 1986.
Need to talk to someone about cyberbullying?
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If you are upset or worried about cyberbullying, it is important to talk to someone about this. It can be helpful to talk to a parent, carer, teacher or another adult that you trust. You can always visit ChildLine or call 0800 1111 if you ever need to talk to someone in confidence.
You can also go online and get help and advice from BullyingUK.
- Always respect others: be careful what you say online and what images you send.
- Think before you send: whatever you send can be made public very quickly and could stay online forever.
- Keep it private! Only give your mobile number, personal email address and other contact details to trusted friends. If you are active on social networking services think about what you are sharing and who you are sharing it with. You can set your privacy settings to limit who can see your content.
- Block the bully: learn how to block or report someone who is behaving badly.
- Don’t retaliate or reply!
- Save the evidence: learn how to keep records of offending messages, pictures or online conversations.
- Make sure you tell:
- Your parent/carer or an adult you trust.
- Your school: your teacher or the anti-bullying coordinator can help you
- Report it to the social network or app: you can check their help centre to see where to report concerns
- Remember you can visit ChildLine to chat to a counsellor online, or call 0800 1111.
Finally, don’t just stand there, if you see cyberbullying going on, support the victim and report the bullying!