cyber; bully; bullying; mobile; phone; internet; harassment; email; victim; online;
Cyberbullying uses mobile phones, email or the Internet to call a person, send messages, or post images, in order to hurt or embarrass them. Unlike other bullying, cyberbullying is not face to face and it can follow a person into places which are usually safe – such as in their own home.
Young people often tease friends and kid around, but cyberbullying is not fun, it is something friends should not do to each other and there can be very serious effects, including suicide of the victim.
Some of the things that cyberbullies do are:
- 'tease' and 'make fun of' someone
- threaten to hurt them or hurt someone they care about
- spread false rumours
- send unwanted messages
- defamation – saying bad things about someone
- take embarrassing photos and pass them on or post them on a website without the person's permission.
The bully may only send a few messages, but some send a lot of highly disturbing messages over and over. The bully may not even know the victim, and it may be hard to work out who the bully is, as the real name may not be used.
The targeted person feels powerless and may not know how to stop it.
The victim is not responsible for the bullying, the bully is, but young people can do some things which make it less likely they or others will be the victim of cyberbullying.
Guard contact information
- Only give your mobile phone number, instant messaging name or e-mail address to trusted friends, and keep a note of who you've given it to.
- Only allow special people to become 'friends' on social networking sites.
- Consider using caller ID blocking to hide your phone number when making calls.
- Don't leave your name on your voicemail.
- Don't give your details to people you don't know – or don't want to know!
Take a stand against cyberbullying
- Speak out whenever you see someone being mean to another person by phone, email or online.
What they can do if they are being bullied
- Talk about it with someone, such as trusted adults and friends to feel strong and able to cope with the bullying.
- Talk to teachers at school. All schools have policies about cyberbullying and know how to try to stop it happening. They also can support the person who is being bullied.
- Block the sender's messages. If you are being bullied through e-mail or instant messaging, block the sender's messages. Never reply to harassing messages.
- Check the social networking site's policy on protecting young people under 18 years of age.
- Report any bullying to the social networking site concerned. You can also go onto the bully's home page and block messages from that person.
- Keep a record of harassing messages and record the time and date that you received them.
- Advise your service provider. Most service providers have 'appropriate use' policies that restrict users from harassing others. They can respond to reports of cyberbullying over their networks.
- Report it to police. If the bullying includes physical threats, tell the police. Some people think that they can get away with it because they believe it is anonymous. They are wrong - most can be traced. It is breaking the law to use a mobile phone or any form of communication to menace or harass or offend another person.
What parents can do
- Get involved by learning all that you can about the technologies that your child is using. She will probably rather enjoy 'being the teacher' and showing off her skills.
- Discuss safety with your child.
- Reassure your child that you are there if he needs help.
- Watch out for signs that your child is being bullied. Maybe he doesn't want to use his mobile phone or computer, or maybe he tries to get out of going to school.
- Talk to your child about using the phone and internet responsibly, eg. that they shouldn't send any messages or post anything on a website that could embarrass, harass or upset others. She might ask herself "How would I feel if someone was doing this to me?”
- Work out the rules with your child for the use of technology in your family and what will happen if she does not stick to them.
- If you think your child may be bullying someone else you could check the phone account to see where the calls are going.
- You might check your child's phone messages and email in and out boxes, if you suspect bullying is taking place – but you need to consider your child's rights to privacy too – this can be difficult to balance.
Young people often respond better to their peers than to adults, but you can still have a strong role in protecting young people from cyberbullying.
- Bullying - No way - An Australian site created by and for Australian school communities. Advice for parents, schools and students about all forms of bullying
- ACMA - Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), Australian Government - consumer and community advice in the areas of broadcasting, the internet, telecommunications, and radiofrequency spectrum.
- Department of Education and Children's Services South Australia
The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).
This topic may use 'he' and 'she' in turn - please change to suit your child's sex.