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I'm being bullied online

Online bullying, or cyber bullying, is when a person or group of people use digital technology such as emails, instant messages, chatrooms, social networking sites and mobile phones to threaten, tease or abuse you.

Three young girls looking at a mobile phone at school

Some people think that because this is not physical, and usually the person isn’t with you, online bullying isn’t as harmful as other forms of bullying. We know that’s not true – in fact, because you probably can’t see the bully, and sometimes you might not even know who or where they are, online bullying can affect people even more than face-to-face bullying.

Online bullying can make you worried, sad, angry or lonely – especially if you feel like you’re trying to deal with this all on your own. 

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 adds you as a friend but you don't know them, delete their request and ignore their messages. 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 at You&Co.

Who can help me?

You&Co – you can talk to one of our support workers on a one-to-one basis, and we can offer you help and support. We can give you advice on how cyber bullying can affect you and how to cope with it, what to do and what to expect if you decide to report a crime to police, and how to move on from being a victim of crime. You can find out about the support available nearest to you on this website.

Thinkuknow – this website has lots of information on how to keep safe online for young people of all ages, as well as parents and teachers. 

ChildLine – ChildLine offer 24-hour support for young people on a range of issues; call 0800 1111

BBC Webwise – information and advice about staying safe online, and how to beat online bullying. 

The Mix – this website provides information and support for 16-25 year olds on a whole range of issues, including rape and sexual assault as well as safe sexual relationships. Get confidential help by telephone, email, text or webchat, for young people under 25; call 0808 808 4994.

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