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Cyber bullying

Cyber bullying is bullying using technology such as a mobile phones, the internet, social websites, and cameras, and it can leave you feeling frightened, anxious, powerless, or humilated. 

Cyber bullying can feel really hard to escape. Nasty messages can reach a person anywhere, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Cyber bullying and abusive messages or pictures can be sent out really quickly, and reach a lot of people really fast. So, if you experience cyber bullying, it can feel really overwhelming because it can seem as though you can’t get away from it, you may not know who it’s coming from, and it can be really hard to know what to do.

Cyber bullying via mobile phone can involve:

  • sending insulting and threatening text messages
  • text bombing – this is lots of people sending abusive messages all at once
  • sexual harassment via text messages
  • pressure to send private pictures or 'sexting'
  • sending private pictures to other people without your permission
  • silent calls
  • abusive verbal messages

Cyber bullying online and on social networking sites can involve:

  • posting abuse, making fun of or putting someone down on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter
  • spreading rumours by email or messages
  • sending mean instant messages to someone while playing a game online
  • posting pictures or videos to embarrass someone
  • threatening or harassing someone via email or instant messaging
  • setting up hate-groups and encouraging people to target someone
  • making fake profiles and stealing a person’s identity

What can you do if you're being cyber bullied?

If you're being cyber bullied via your cell phone:

  • Tell people you trust – You might be embarrassed to show your parents or teacher, but the sooner you do, the sooner things can be sorted out. Remember, if you’re being bullied, it’s unacceptable and it’s not your fault. 
  • Don’t reply – It might be tempting to say something back, but this is usually just what the bully wants and it can make the problem worse. Even if they send you a hundred messages, don’t give in, don’t give the bully the satisfaction of a response.  
  • Keep the messages as evidence – Don’t delete them, but tell your parents so they can contact the police. If there’s a series of calls or the calls are part of a bigger picture of bullying, this may amount to harassment, which is an offence.
  • Report it to the police – If the bullying includes threats of harming you or fighting you, this is against the law. Contact the police to make a report, and show the evidence to the police (saved messages or screen shots).  
  • Tell your mobile phone company – If they have the evidence, they should be able to take action. 
  • Change your SIM card or telephone number – If you want to, get another SIM card or change your number so the bullies can’t contact you. Be extra careful giving out your new number – only give it to people you know you can trust.

If you're being bullied online:

  • Talk to people you trust for support – Tell a friend, your parents, a school counsellor, or someone who will have your back! 
  • Don't respond. Bullies are looking for a reaction – don’t give them what they want!
  • Block the bully right away – If you’re not sure how to block someone, search the website for privacy options, contact the service provider or contact NetSafe for help.
  • Report the abuse or pictures to the website provider – Cyber bullying usually violates privacy policies or the terms of service established by social media sites and internet service providers. So if you report what’s going on, the website owners can take action against users abusing the terms of service.
  • Talk to your principal or teacher – If the person or people bullying you are from your school, it’s a good idea to report what’s happening to a teacher or the principal. You might like to ask a parent or a trusted friend to go with you.
  • Report to the police if there are any threats of harm, ongoing abuse, or any sexual harassment – The police can get information from your computer’s hard drive, but it’s helpful if you don’t delete anything you think is dodgy until the police have decided whether they need it as evidence.

Staying safe on Facebook

  • Privacy settings – Facebook has lots of safety and privacy control options to help you stay safe, so it’s a good idea to use them to limit who can see your profile. To do this, go to the privacy page, here you can go to the 'Limited Profile Settings' link to set up a Limited Profile. Use this option to choose who can and who can’t see your profile, you can even choose the amount of detail different friends can see. 
  • Blocking someone – If you’re getting unwelcome messages, friend requests, or harassment from people, you can block them by using the 'Block People' box on the My Privacy page. If you block someone, they can’t see your profile and you’re invisible if they search for you.
  • Report what’s happening – If people don’t stop making offensive postings, you can make a complaint using the 'Report' link on your Facebook page. Facebook will look into the complaint and can remove the content, then they’ll warn or ban the offender from the site within 24 hours. If you email Facebook you should get a reply within 72 hours.

Stand up to cyber bullying!

Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself, or stand up for someone else who is being cyber bullied – usually the bullying can be stopped pretty quickly when people speak up. Talk about it – being vocal about cyber bullying reminds others to treat people the way they’d like to be treated online!

Support others who have been targeted – Look out for mates and others online – cyber bullies are less likely to target people who are well supported. You could tell the person who is doing the bullying to back off, or you could message the person being bullied to let them know you don’t like what’s happening to them and help them get support.

If you come across anything that’s frightening, disturbing, offensive, or where people are pressuring you or others to do something or give out personal information, please tell your parents or another adult. Report what’s happening as soon as possible.