Cyberbullying

Scared to check your emails? Feel sick whenever your phone beeps? Cyberbullying can make you feel like you’re never left alone. But how do you cope with it? Especially if you don’t even know who’s behind it? We’re here to help.

sad girl on phone

When you're bullied online, it feels like there's no escape

Am I being cyberbullied?

Cyberbullying is when someone uses technology to deliberately hurt, humiliate, harass, or threaten someone else. If any of the following is happening to you, you could be being cyberbullied:

  • Getting nasty or threatening texts or emails
  • People posting abusive messages to you on chatrooms, on your social networks, or using instant messaging services
  • Having humiliating videos or pictures of yourself posted online, or sent on to other people
  • Someone’s taken on your identity online to deliberately mess with your life
  • A hate site or a hate group has been set up about you
  • You’re being prank called

Why is someone doing this to me?

Receiving any kind of horrible message is deeply unpleasant. It can rock your confidence and make you question your family and friends, as statistics show that in most cases it’ll be someone you know. But whoever’s behind it, and it may take some time to find out, you need to keep assuring yourself that this is their problem and not yours. What they’re doing is a cowardly act, driven by anything from jealousy to insecurity, or just plain spite.

Bullies are basically deeply insecure, after all. If they can’t give themselves a power hit by making you react on command, then chances are they’ll give up.

Do I respond?

No – step away from the phone. It may be tempting to send something back, telling them to go fuck themselves, but you’d be giving this individual exactly what he or she wants. They’re trying to provoke a response from you – anything they can act upon or use to justify further abuse – which is why it’s so important to deny them the opportunity.

So, instead of hitting reply, press save or make a note of the message, including the time and date. Build up evidence in this way, and if you have to take it to someone with the authority to act, you can provide all the proof they need.

What if it just won’t stop?

The most important thing to remember is that you should never ignore cyberbullying. Report it, flag it, and talk to someone about it. There are lots of places you can go for help and advice – check out the tips below, or talk to another young person at somewhere like The Mix’s Community Boards.

What to do if you’re being harassed online:

  • Report any cyberbullying, whether it’s targeted at you or not, to the service provider
  • Never respond or retaliate, as this can make things worse. It might be difficult, but try to ignore the bullies. Block them from contacting you too.
  • Save and print out any bullying messages, posts, pictures or videos you receive or see.
  • Make a note of dates and times of bullying messages, along with any details you have about the sender’s ID.
  • Don’t pass on cyberbullying videos or messages – that makes you as bad as the cyberbully.
  • If you’re being bullied repeatedly online, think about changing your user ID, nickname or profile.
  • Finally… if you think that someone else is being cyberbullied, don’t ignore it. If you see cyberbullying going on, report it and offer your support.

Staying safe online

It’s important to remember that, it’s not your fault this is happening to you. No-one deserves to be treated this way. That said, you can reduce your risk of being targeted..

  • Whenever you post ANYTHING online, stop and think first: “Is it OK if this stays out in the world forever?” Sharing personal information about yourself publicly, like naughty photos or your personal problems, can give cyberbullies more ammo to attack you.
  • Don’t ever share your passwords with anyone. And try and make them hard to guess.
  • Check your privacy settings on all your social networks regularly (as they have a tricky habit of changing them).
  • Respect other people’s views – just because you don’t agree with them, it doesn’t mean that you have to be rude or abusive
  • Google yourself every now and again. It will show you what is online about you and what others can see

 

Next Steps

  • BullyingUK offers advice and support to victims of bullying. Call on 0808 800 2222.
  • Anyone can contact the Samaritans on their 24-hour helpline to talk things through. 116 123
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015