Bullying can be a horrible experience for anyone. It can be particularly difficult when it takes place online (known as cyberbullying) as often it can feel like you can’t escape it … but there are steps you can take and support is available for you.
Most websites and social media platforms will have rules about online bullying as well as ways to report it if it’s happening to you or someone that you know. It’s important to report bullying to the site so that they can investigate and take action to prevent the person continuing to bully you or anyone else. Reporting bullying in this way also speeds up the process of the sites removing the content/posts that have caused you to be upset.
You can also block users on most sites and social media platforms. Blocking the user means that they can no longer contact you through that account. The person you block won’t get a notification that you’ve blocked them and you can always change your mind if you want to unblock them at a later date.
Wherever possible, you should take screenshots of the messages that have been sent so that you can produce them if needed. You should talk about what has been happening with an adult that you trust such as a parent, a teacher or a mentor for example. If you need further support or advice, check out the links on our sources of support page.
Think about what you do online
As well as being bullied online, some people go on to be the bully online. Sometimes being behind the screen can give people an increased sense of confidence and make them feel ‘untouchable’ meaning that they do and say things that they probably wouldn’t face to face.
You may think it’s a laugh or just a joke but if something you post online causes another person to feel upset and victimised, it’s probably bullying, especially if you intended to upset them. If you think you have done this, you should remove what you posted straight away and apologise if it’s appropriate to do so. You should make sure you don’t post anything similar again and encourage others not to post anything similar too.
Can what you post online ever get you into trouble? YES! You are responsible for your behaviour online and if you commit a crime, you can end up in trouble with the police and could even end up with a criminal record. Examples of types of crimes that you might commit online include:
- Harassment – repeatedly contacting, messaging or posting about someone causing them distress (i.e. doing so more than once)
- Making threats – If you say something online that results in someone else fearing violence or that they may be harmed, you could be prosecuted.
It is extremely easy to be traced online even if you think you are posting anonymously or are using a fake account. Websites and apps track specific information about you such as your IP address in order to be able to trace you – they will provide this to the police if necessary to support with any investigations.
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