Staying Safe

Types of Cyber Bullying

Picture of a mobile phone and video clipThere are lots of different types of cyberbullying. These are the main ones:

Email: Sending emails that can be threatening or upsetting. Emails can be sent directly to a single target, or to a group of people to encourage them to become part of the bullying. These messages or 'hate mails' can include examples of racism, sexism and other types of prejudice. If someone sends you a message and you forward or laugh at it, you're actually adding to the problem.

Instant messenger and chatrooms: Sending instant messenger and chatroom messages to friends or direct to a victim. Others can be invited into the bullying conversation, who then become part of it by laughing.

Social networking sites: Setting up profiles on social networking sites to make fun of someone. By visiting these pages or contributing to them, you become part of the problem and add to the feelings of unhappiness felt by the victim.

Social Networking sites make money by connecting and sharing information so it's worth checking the privacy settings of your account for safety.

Mobile phone: Sending humiliating and abusive text or video messages, as well as photo messages and phone calls over a mobile phone. This includes anonymous text messages over short distances using Bluetooth technology and sharing videos of physical attacks on individuals (happy slapping). Using a mobile phone to harass others is covered in the Malicious Communications Act 1988, and can be punished by up to 6 months' imprisonment.

Interactive gaming: Games consoles allow players to chat online with anyone they find themselves matched with in a multi-player game. Sometimes cyber bullies abuse other players and use threats. They can also lock victims out of games, spread false rumours about someone or hack into someone's account.

Sending viruses: Some people send viruses or hacking programs to another person that can destroy their computers or delete personal information from their hard drive.

Abusing personal information: Many victims of cyberbullying have complained that they have seen personal photos, emails or blog postings posted where others could see them without their permission. It's also worth noting that having a picture of an under 18 (this can be yourself or others) which contains nudity is a criminal offence, as is opening these images on mobiles, laptops and pcs and showing them to others.

Social networking sites make it a lot easier for web users to get hold of personal information and photos of people. They can also get hold of someone else's messaging accounts and chat to people pretending to be the victim. It is illegal to use other people's username and password details.

Download the Anti-Bullying Alliance's tips on Staying Safe in CyberSpace.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) offers help and advice on cyberbullying, and maintains a special website for young people about staying safe online at their Thinkuknow website.

Find more help with bullying here.

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