Cyberbullying is when a person uses technology i.e. mobile phones or the internet (social networking sites, chat rooms, instant messenger), to deliberately upset someone.
It can happen any time of day and occur on a large scale and speed, due to the nature of the technology.
Bullies often feel anonymous and 'distanced' from the incident when it takes place online and 'bystanders' can easily become perpetrators by forwarding or not reporting cyberbullying.
There is not a specific law which makes cyberbullying illegal but it can be considered a criminal offence under several different acts including Protection from Harassment Act (1997), Malicious Communications Act (1988), Communications Act (2003) Obscene Publications Act (1959) and Computer Misuse Act (1990).
If you're being bullied online/by text
- Save the messages/material
- Report it online if the site you're using has a reporting feature
- Do not retaliate or reply. If possible, block the person.
Advice for parents, carers and teachers
- Your child is just as likely to be a bully as they are to be a target. Watch out for uncharacteristic behaviour (your child being upset or secretive, using the phone/internet more than usual, changing friendship group.)
- Remind your child not to retaliate and keep any evidence
- Report the bullying – contact the school if the bullying involves another pupil and contact your service provider to report the user and remove the content. If the bullying is more serious and a potential criminal offence, consider contacting us.
Watch this video on sexting and cyberbullying
This video was produced by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).