Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is using the internet, email, online games or any digital technology to threaten, tease, upset or humiliate someone else. 

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is when someone bullies, threatens or harasses you online. It can happen on social media, games or anywhere else you go online.

People might bully you by:

  • sending nasty or threatening messages
  • posting photos, videos or posts about you online, or liking posts or comments about you
  • trolling you or commenting on your posts or pictures saying nasty things
  • revealing personal details about you online
  • starting a group chat to talk about someone
  • targeting you over and over in an online game.

Cyberbullying might only be happening online, or it might be part of people bullying you in other ways as well. Whatever’s happening, we’re here to help.

Things to remember:

  • Reporting bullying can help to stop it.
  • Don't share or comment on bullying posts. 
  • You can block people who are bullying you online.
  • Tell an adult you trust, it can help to talk.
  • Things can change. And there are ways you can build your confidence.  

Dealing with cyberbullying

  • Block people
    Sites and apps all work differently, but blocking someone usually means that they won’t be able to contact you and you won’t have to see anything they write.
  • Keep evidence
    Don’t respond to nasty messages or comment on photos or videos. But do take screenshots of what people are saying, it can help you if you do tell someone.
  • Talk to someone you trust
    You don’t need to cope with bullying alone. Talking to an adult you trust can help you to find ways to stop the bullying. If you don’t know who to talk to, talk to us.
  • Tell someone at school
    If you’re being bullied online by people at school, they still have a duty to support you. Try showing a teacher or someone you trust at school screenshots of what’s been happening.
  • Take a break from checking messages
    It’s natural to want to see what people are saying when they’re bullying you. But taking time away from your phone or device, even for a few minutes, can help to calm you down. If you’re struggling, try our ideas on building confidence after online bullying.

Report sexting or bullying online 

Lots of social media sites can help you if people are bullying you online. Find out more.

Can I talk to the police?

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

Being made to feel upset or scared can include someone:

  • lying to you about who they are
  • threatening to hurt you
  • sending nasty or offensive messages to you or about you.

It can also be against the law for someone to threaten to share a nude or sexual video of you without your permission, even if you shared it with them yourself.

Some bullying can also be a hate crime. This is when someone tries to hurt you because of your race, religion, gender or sexual identity, or because you have a disability.

Even if the bullying isn’t against the law or you don’t want to talk to the police, you can still get support. If you’re feeling threatened or scared you can always talk to a Childline counsellor.

Where cyberbullying can happen

why do people bully online?

There’s no single reason why someone might bully another person online. People might not realise how their behaviour affects others.

Sometimes people say nasty things because they’re frustrated or angry with other parts of their life. 

Whatever the reason, it’s not okay for it to happen. Reporting bullying or telling an adult you trust can help to keep you and other people safe from it.

Sometimes we can all say or do things we don’t mean that upset someone else. If you're ever unsure or worried about something, our counsellors are here for you.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU'RE BULLYING SOMEONE

Bullying someone else isn’t okay. But if you’re doing it and want to stop, there are things you can do:

  • Accept that what you’ve done is bullying
    You might want to dismiss what’s happened as just a joke, or think that it’s okay because you’re not the only one. But if you’ve sent nasty messages, shared a post or liked something that’s been made to make someone feel bad, then you’ve been a bully, and that’s not okay.
  • Don’t send any more posts or messages
    Stop whatever you were doing to bully someone, don't post or share things and don't message the person.
  • Don’t stay on group chats or pages
    Even if you don’t participate, if you stay on a group chat then you’re encouraging other people
  • Delete the bullying
    Go back and delete any upsetting or nasty posts, messages or videos.
  • Say sorry
    Apologise to the person you bullied or sent messages to. Offer them support if you can, but respect their wishes if they don’t want to talk to you.
  • Be the one to make a stand
    Talk to others involved and encourage them to stop the bullying as well, sometimes it only takes one person to make a big change.
  • Plan for the future
    Think about how you want to behave online in the future, and what you could do if you want to do this again.

Bullying can really hurt. It can upset someone and make them feel worthless. Sometimes it can make people self-harm and leave them feeling suicidal.

Thinking about what you say and do online can make a big difference.

helping a friend

Being bullied can be difficult. So it could help to have a good friend to offer support.

There are lots of small things you can do that could be a big help to your friend:

  • Listen to them
    It can really help to have someone to talk things through with and listen. 
  • Help them to get support
    You could offer to go with them to report the bullying and help them think about what they want to say. 
  • Comment on their posts
    This can help them feel like they aren't so alone when other people post negative messages. But don’t reply to nasty or negative comments, or share videos of them as this can make things worse
  • Do things together
    Help to take their mind off things for a short while. You could watch a film, play sports or go to the cinema.

Find out more about helping a friend.

Watch: How to help a friend who's being bullied