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Online bullying

What is online bullying?

Online bullying (or cyber bullying) is when someone or a group of people upset, humiliate or hurt another person via the internet or digital technology. This could be on social networks, or through email, text, gaming, or other devices.

Online bullying is particularly difficult because people can be in their own personal space, such as their bedroom, and still be bullied.

It can also come from different places at once, like on different social networks, and from lots of different accounts. Online bullying is sometimes done anonymously.

Is online bullying illegal?

There isn’t a specific online bullying law in the UK, but some actions can be criminal offences under different laws. People have been prosecuted for abusive behaviour towards others on social networking sites.

If you are being bullied online:

Nobody has the right to make you feel trapped by online bullying – and they can be stopped. The first thing to do is to talk to someone you trust, like a friend, parent, teacher or social worker. Telling someone you trust is the first step.

Here are some other tips that may help you if you’re being bullied online:

1. Block the bullies. Most social networks have a block option which means you won’t receive messages from them. You can also block phone numbers on some mobile phones.

2. Keep your details private. Don’t give out your number, address, email or other contact details to anyone you don’t know really well.

3. Check your privacy settings. You can control the information you send out on social networks. Think about what you are sharing and who you are sharing it with.

4. Save the evidence. This will help you explain to people what is happening. Take screenshots, and save the messages. Don’t delete anything, but don’t reply either. Retaliating can often make the situation worse and may end up with you getting some blame.

Lots of the sites you use like Facebook and YouTube have their own advice areas where you can get some help if you’re being bullied. Visit this page on Childnet to find out more.

Further support on bullying and online bullying:

The Childline website has some useful tips on online bullying.

www.bullying.co.uk/ offers live online chat, plus a confidential support helpline.

The NSPCC has lots of advice and information on bullying and online bullying.

Talk to Kooth:

If you don’t feel comfortable telling someone you know yet, you can talk to an online counsellor at Kooth. The service is free, safe and anonymous – you just need to answer a few basic questions about yourself and create a username to sign up.