How to deal with cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is any bullying behaviour that takes place through electronic means. Typically it might include posting or sending offensive or hurtful comments and/or videos, sending threats of harm or encouraging someone to hurt themselves, spreading rumours or impersonating another person to cause them harm or embarrassment.
It's very important that you share with someone you trust what is happening and ask for their help and support.
- Your family: It's important to let either your parent or carer, or someone you trust in your family know what is happening. Together you can consider what to do next, and at the very least they can give you emotional support during this difficult time.
- The school: If the cyberbullying involves other children in your school then it's important to share with the school what is happening, providing any evidence that you have. Talk to a teacher or member of staff that you trust.
- The platform: Most platforms will give you the option to report or flag cyberbullying and other harmful behaviour. Report Harmful Content can give you very good advice on what to do next, and have a helpline if you need further support.
- The police: Some forms of cyberbullying could be a matter for the police. For example if someone is threatening to harm you, or encouraging you to harm yourself.
Managing the situation
- Choose not to respond: Most people who cyberbully and/or troll others are looking for a response. Our advice would be not to 'feed the trolls' - it is nearly always best not to respond. Some platforms will give you the option to mute the person and their comments. That way you don't have to be exposed to their hurt and hate.
- Block the person or people: You always have the option to block or unfollow the person or people that are hurting you. If they are part of your school group this may feel more difficult but see whether you have the option to mute them or their comments to prevent further hurt. If it feels safe, you may also want to talk to them about the harm they have caused and ask them to delete their comments. There can be times when people don't realise they've caused hurt or embarrassment.
- Increase your privacy: It's very important that you trust the people who you let into your online space. Make sure you have the highest possible privacy settings (ask a friend or an adult for help if you're not sure how to set these) and think carefully about who you want to see your content, and what you are prepared to share with a big audience. Remember what you post could also be shared with people you don't know and almost anything you make public is outside of your control. Always think before you post.
- Take care of yourself: Going through a cyberbullying incident can be very difficult. It's okay to feel angry and sad but you will get through it. If one thing is for certain, it is the speed at which people online move on to something new! You might find it helpful to come off the platform where it is happening for a short period of time. Meet up with a friend, go for a walk, watch a film. Anything that takes your mind off what is happening. Surround yourself with positive people and things and you will start to feel better. Also - things always feel worse at night (when a lot of cyberbullying happens) and so it can be a good idea to come off the platform (or offline altogether), do something that makes you feel better, have a good sleep, and you may find you look at the situation differently in the morning.