Online bullying

Bullying online is just as harmful as other forms of bullying, even if you can't necessarily see or hear the bully. Sometimes you might not even know who the bully is, so online bullying can affect people even more than face-to-face bullying.Online bullying can make you worried, sad, angry or lonely. Don't feel like you're alone, lots of people of all ages have experienced it and can give you help.

How does online bullying happen?

Online bullying often takes place alongside bullying and other types of crime. It can include:

  • threatening or embarrassing texts/emails
  • sexting - being asked to send or text sexual pictures of yourself to someone, or receiving sexual images that you don't want 
  • being sent offensive or upsetting images
  • being called names or having rumours spread about you on websites, forums or social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Ask.fm and Snapchat
  • being blocked from joining social networks or forums, or having your profile removed, to make you feel left out
  • someone creating a fake profile or website of you online and posting as you
  • stalking - being harassed and followed online, or someone finding out online your location and turning up there; it could be someone you know or someone you don't
  • getting prank calls and non-stop texts
  • grooming - this is when someone encourages you to do things that they want you to do; they may pretend to be your friend, boyfriend or girlfriend, but may not be who they say they are.

How can I stop people bullying me on social networking sites?

Online bullying needs to be stopped because:

  • bullies can contact you even if they're not close by, which means you may be constantly worrying
  • it can be hard to find out who is bullying you if they hide their identity
  • you may feel more isolated because bullies can share information with others online or via phones and emails.

Each social network platform is different, but all of them - including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr and YouTube - have policies and procedures in place to stop users being bullied.So you can:

  • report the person who is bullying you
  • un-friend, block or delete the person who is bullying you
  • take a screenshot of the bullying.

Even though you can do these things yourself, it is still good to talk to a friend or an adult you trust about the bullying; they will be able to help you deal with the bullies, and make sure you stay safe in future.Remember it's not your fault, and there are lots of things you can do to stop it.

What if someone is bullying me through my mobile?

Bullying via your mobile phone can be just as frightening as bullying on social media, and problems include silent calls, insulting and threatening texts, and abusive verbal messages. There are some things you can do to end the bullying: 

  • Keep a record of any abusive calls you receive, or threatening or upsetting message that you have been sent, so you can show someone.
  • Don't reply to any nasty messages or calls, and don't answer any calls from a withheld number, or from a number you don't know.
  • Talk to an adult you can trust about what is happening. You may also want to think about reporting it to the police; making anonymous or abusive phone calls is a criminal offence, and mobile phone companies can only take action on the bully's account - such as blocking it - if the police are involved.

How can I stay safe online?

The internet is great fun, but there are some dangers. By following a few simple guidelines you can stay safe online:

  • Your private information should stay private: don't give out personal details, passwords or other private information online, and make sure you set your privacy settings so only those people you know and trust can access your information.
  • Once you share, it's out there: although most sites will have a 'delete post' option, once you have put something up, anyone can save it and re-post it.
  • Think twice before posting: don't upload or post photos or videos that you wouldn't be happy for other people to see - if you wouldn't print and pass these images around your school or show your mum or dad, they are not appropriate to share via phone or other technologies.
  • Be careful who you chat to: if somebody you don't know adds you as a friend, ignore them and delete their request. And don't meet up with people you've met online - not everyone is who they say they are.Remember, if anything makes you feel upset, scared or uncomfortable, tell an adult you trust, or talk to us