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Cyber bullying (online bullying)

Cyber bullying (online bullying) is when a person or a group of people uses the internet, email, online games or any other kind of digital technology to threaten, tease, upset or humiliate someone else.

cyber bullyingHow can I stop cyber bullying?

Sometimes it can seem like cyber bullying will never end, but there are some things you can do to make it stop.

Nobody has to go through online bullying alone and often the first step in stopping it is to tell someone about it.

Think about talking to an adult that you trust. They can help you report the cyber bullying and give you more confidence to deal with the situation.

You might want to talk to a parent, carer, family member or teacher. You can always talk to a ChildLine counsellor by calling free on 0800 1111 or through 
1-2-1 chat online.

How do I stop bullying on social networking sites?

Social networking is a great way to have fun and keep up to date with your friends. But sometimes people use social networks to be abusive or nasty towards other people.

Getting bullied on a social network can be really upsetting, so it’s important to block and report anyone who bullies you. Setting up a safe profile is a really important part of social networking.

Learn how to deal with bullying on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube and many more.

  • Someone is bullying me through my mobile, what can I do?

    - Don't reply to any nasty messages you receive
    - Keep the messages that you have been sent so you can show someone
    - Don't answer any calls from a withheld number, or from a number you don't know
    - If it gets really bad, you could change your number
    - If you change your number, only give out your new number to close friends
    - If the problem is serious, tell the police or call us free on 0800 1111 and we can help
    - Above all, don’t keep it to yourself or try to deal with it alone
    - Tell an adult you trust, like a parent, grandparent or teacher. It helps to talk. 

    Mobile phone operators can't stop or block a particular number from contacting another phone, but you can do this on some types of phone. Check your phone user guide to see if yours can. Mobile phone companies can only take action on the bully's account, such as blocking it, if the police are involved.

  • How does cyber bullying make you feel?

    Online bullying is very serious. It can make you feel scared, upset, embarrassed or like everyone is against you.

    If you are being bullied at school, there are usually places you can go, after school, to get away from the bullying. With online bullying it can sometimes feel like there is no escape as it can happen anywhere and at any time.  

    Cyber bullying can also be really scary as it might involve a lot of people. It can often be done without anyone knowing who is behind the bullying. They might set up fake accounts, hide their IP address or block their mobile number. You might feel that people are ganging up on you.

    Nobody has the right to make you feel this way
    If you are experiencing online bullying, it's a really good idea to talk to someone you trust. This could be a family member, teacher, friend or a ChildLine counsellor. There are ways to stop cyber bullying and talking to someone is often the first step in getting help.
    Call ChildLine free on 0800 1111 or log in for a 1-2-1 chat online.

    Online bullying can be difficult to cope with, especially if it’s been going on for a long time. It can really knock your confidence. There are ways to be assertive which can help deal with bullying and build up your self-esteem.

    Some people who are bullied can find themselves doing things they would not normally do in order to cope like harming themselves or running away. There are ways to stop bullying and you do not have to go through it alone.

  • Why do people bully online?

    It’s never easy to say why someone starts being hurtful to other people. Sometimes we can all say or do things that we don’t mean that upset someone else.

    Sometimes people have their own problems and it makes them feel better to hurt others. They may want to be popular and might think that humiliating someone else will make them to look better. Whatever someone is going through, it is never okay to bully someone else.

    Sometimes people choose to embarrass, upset, pick on or intimidate other people using the internet or a mobile phone because it feels safer this way. Bullying someone over the internet is easier as it means the person doing the bullying can’t see how much it hurts the other person. This means they can feel more distant from what they are doing. Sending a nasty message or text can be done so quickly that the person doing the bullying might not think about how hurtful it is.

  • Am I a cyber bully?

    Nobody really likes to think they are involved in bullying and we can often make excuses for the way we treat people. Sometimes this makes it difficult to realise when we are a part of bullying.

    If you use digital technology to upset, anger or embarrass someone on purpose, this means you are involved in online bullying.

    It might be as simple as ‘liking’ a mean post on Facebook or spreading a rumour on Twitter. The person being bullied could feel like you are part of the bullying. It can be really difficult to experience bullying on social networking sites.  

    Never underestimate the impact of bullying someone can have. It can make the person feel deeply upset and hopeless. Sometimes it can make people self-harm or, in some very serious cases, might lead to suicide.

    It’s important to think about how we might feel if someone said the same thing about us.

  • I have been involved in cyber bullying. What can I do to put it right?

    - The first step is realising that you have been involved in bullying. We all make mistakes and it doesn’t make you a bad person.
    - Tell someone you trust, like a parent, carer or teacher. They may be able to offer you some advice about what to do.
    - Delete any upsetting posts you have written
    - Talk to others involved and encourage them to stop the bullying. It only takes one person to start making a big change
    - Apologise to the person who was bullied and offer them support. This can mean a lot to the other person.
    - Learn from this. Sometimes we do things without really thinking them through but the important thing is to learn from it and change the way you act in the future.

  • My friend is being bullied online, how can I help?

    Being bullied is often a very difficult experience – so it could be really helpful to have a good friend to listen and offer support.

    Things you can do to help a friend:
    - Be there to listen to your friend. If they are being bullied they might be going through a lot of emotions and it can be really helpful for them to have someone to talk things through with.
    - Support your friend by offering to go with them to report the bullying and help them think about what they want to say.
    - Think about writing supportive comments when other people are posting negative messages. This may help them feel like they are not so alone.
    - Do things together that may take their mind off things for a short while. You could watch a DVD or go to the cinema.

    Getting support for yourself
    If someone you know is being bullied, it can be tough for you to deal with too. You might also feel upset and unsure what to do. You don’t need to try and solve the problem on your own. Talk to someone you trust or visit the ChildLine message boards to see what other young people have done in your situation.

  • What are the different types of cyber bullying?

    There are lots of different ways that someone experience bullying through the internet or mobile phones. Some of them are really subtle, so it might be difficult to realise what is happening.

    Text messages
    Sending abusive, nasty or threatening text messages to someone is a type of bullying. This could include sharing those texts with other people who might join in the bullying.

    Sexting is getting someone to share sexually explicit pictures or videos of themselves and then sending these on to other people. If someone’s asking you for sexual pictures of yourself, download ChildLine's free Zipit app. It gives you loads of great ways to deal with sexting.

    Sending abusive emails is a type of bullying. Sometimes those emails might be shared with other people who could join in the bullying. Sending computer viruses or hurtful videos and pictures by email is also online bullying.

    Instant messaging (IM) and chat rooms
    Sometimes people might get nasty messages when they are using instant messaging or chat rooms. Sending those types of messages using someone else’s account without their permission is also online bullying.

    Social networking sites
    Social networks can be used in lots of different ways to bully someone. Learn more about how to stop bullying on different social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube and many more.

    Online gaming
    Being abusive towards someone or harassing them on an online multi-player gaming site is also a kind of online bullying.

    Abusing personal information
    Sometimes people involved in bullying might post someone else's photos or personal information without that person's permission. This could include pretending to be someone else and writing fake comments or blogs.

  • Is cyber bullying against the law?

    Bullying is not specifically against the law, but harassment or threatening behaviour is. That means if someone keeps making you feel scared on purpose, what they are doing could be illegal.

    If someone is bullying or threatening you, something can be done to stop them and you should report it to an adult you trust. If you can, keep a record of the bullying. Having a record of when and where the bullying happened can help to get it stopped.

  • More information on how to stop bullying

Other sites that can help

How to stay safe online.
Think U Know

How to stay safe when you're chatting online.
Chat Danger

Get help and support to stop bullying.
Beat bullying

Call ChildLine

You can call ChildLine at any time on 0800 1111 to speak to a counsellor. Calls are free and confidential.

Call ChildLine

Did this page about cyber bullying help you? If so, tell us how.


Cyber bullying (online bullying) 


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