Cyberbullying: The Ultimate Guide

07 Apr 2015

What Is Cyberbullying?

From our research, we found that up to 7 in 10 young people experience cyberbullying before the age of 18… but what is it and who does it effect? Cyberbullying comes in a whole range of different shapes and sizes and is something that is totally subjective to the recipient. We define cyberbullying as the following:

“Cyberbullying is the use of digital technologies with an intent to offend, humiliate, threaten, harass or abuse somebody.”

Anybody can become a recipient of cyberbullying, regardless of how old they are or the kind of job that they occupy. In fact, it is well documented that a lot of our favourite celebrities and role models also experience cyberbullying.

The most important this is knowing how to deal with it. Read on for our expert top tips and advice.

Is It Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying can include anything offensive, humiliating, threatening or abusive that is directed at you on an electronic form of communication. This includes via text, email, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, instant messaging and online games.

Examples of cyberbullying include:

  • Nasty messages online or on the mobile phone
  • Comments on your posts or posts about you
  • Being excluded from online groups and forums
  • Embarrassing photos being put online without your permission
  • Rumours and lies about you on a website
  • Offensive chat on online gaming
  • Fake online profiles being created with an intent to defame you

Did you know that many cases of cyberbullying can actually be deemed illegal?

General Cyberbullying Statistics

Taken from The Cyberbullying Survey, Ditch the Label (2013)

  • 7 out of 10 young people have been victims of cyberbullying.
  • 37% young people have experienced cyberbullying on a highly frequent basis
  • 20% of young people have experienced extreme cyberbullying on a daily basis
  • Young people are found to be twice as likely to be bullied on Facebook than on any other social network.
  • Facebook, Twitter and Ask.FM are found to be the most common social networks for cyberbullying.
  • 54% of young people using Facebook reported that they have experienced bullying on the network.
  • 28% of young people using Twitter reported that they have experienced bullying on the network.
  • 26% of young people using Ask.FM have experienced bullying on the network.
  • Cyberbullying is found to have catastrophic effects upon the self-esteem and social lives of up to 69% of young people.
  • An estimated 5.43 million young people in the UK have experienced cyberbullying with 1.26 million subjected to extreme cyber bullying on a daily basis.
  • New research shows that young males and females are equally at risk.

Cyberbullying On Smartphones and Sexting Statistics

Taken from The Wireless Report, Ditch the Label (2014)

  • 37% 13 – 25 year olds have sent a naked photo of themselves (63% to a boyfriend/girlfriend and 32% to someone they are attracted to)
  • 30% of 15 yr olds have sent a naked photo of themselves at least once
  • 15% of 13 & 14 yr olds have sent a naked photo of themselves at least once
  • 5% of 13 year olds send naked photos several times a week.
  • 24% have sent a naked photo to someone they know only online.
  • 24% have had a naked photo shared without their consent.
  • 49% believe is just harmless fun.
  • 16% said it’s the normal thing to do.
  • 13% felt pressurised into doing it.
  • Females are twice as likely to send a naked photo of themselves more than once a week than men.
  • 62% have been sent nasty private messages via smartphone apps
  • 52% have never reported the abuse they have received.
  • 47% have received nasty profile comments
  • 40% have received nasty photo comments.
  • 42% have received hate-based comments (racism, homophobia etc.)
  • 28% have had personal information shared without consent.
  • 52% have never reported abuse on smartphone apps
  • 26% felt like it wasn’t taken seriously when reported
  • 49% experienced a loss in confidence as a result of the bullying
  • 28% retaliated and sent something abusive back
  • 24% turned to self harming as a coping mechanism
  • 22% tried to change their appearance to avoid further abuse
  • 13% stopped using the app

Top 9 Tips For Dealing With Cyberbullying

  • Never respond to anything that has been said or retaliate by doing the same thing back. Saying something nasty back or posting something humiliating in revenge may make matters worse or even get you in to trouble.
  • Screenshot anything that you think could be cyber bullying and keep a record of it on your computer.
  • Block and report the offending users to the appropriate social media platform. More advice on how to do this is below!
  • Talk about it. You may not feel it at the time, but you seriously are not alone. Talking to somebody about bullying not only helps you seek support but it documents evidence and will take a huge weight from your shoulders.
  • Assess how serious the cyberbullying is. If it is light name calling from somebody that you don’t know, it may just be easier to just report and block that user.
  • Report it. If you are experiencing cyberbullying from somebody you go to school or college with, report it to a teacher. If somebody is threatening you, giving out your personal information or making you fear for your safety, contact the Police or an adult as soon as you can.
  • Be private! We recommend that you keep your social media privacy settings high and do not connect with anybody who you do not know offline. People may not always be who they say they are and you could be putting you and those that you care about the most at risk.
  • Talk to them. Sometimes it may be appropriate to request that a teacher or responsible adult hosts a mediation between you and the person who is bullying you online, if they go to the same school or college as you. A mediation can be scary but is often incredibly powerful. It is essentially a face-to-face conversation between you and the bully in a controlled, equal environment.
  • Sympathise. Always remember that happy and secure people do not bully others. Most bullies are going through a difficult time themselves and will often need a lot of help and support.

What Does The Law Say?

As cyberbullying is a relatively new phenomenon, the UK courts are still trying to catch up with it and sentence offenders effectively. Though no laws specifically apply to cyberbullying alone, there are several laws which can be applied in cyberbullying cases:

  • Protection from Harassment Act 1997
  • Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994
  • Malicious Communications Act 1988
  • Communications Act 2003
  • Breach of the Peace (Scotland)
  • Defamation Act 2013

In 2012 The Crown Prosecution Service published guidelines on how cyberbullying cases would be assessed against current laws, which you can find here.

On January 1st 2014 the Defamation Act 2013 came into order, and can be read here.

Cyberbullying Prosecutions

Cyberbullying cases can often go unreported by for fear of what people may say, and indeed this was an issue faced by Nicola Brookes, who was remorselessly cyberbullied after posting a message of support on Frankie Cocozza’s Facebook page. After taking evidence to the Police with no success, she took her case to the High Court and won a battle with Facebook to have the names of those who had bullied her revealed. You can read more about the story here. The case was a landmark battle, as for the first time it meant a website had to release members’ details, opening them up for prosecution.

Trolls are increasingly being taken to court and if found guilty, given fines and facing jail terms. Two people who sent abusive messages towards Caroline Criado-Perez were jailed for 8 weeks and 12 weeks, and were ordered to pay £800 in fines.

A website owner will generally be responsible for content posted on the website, meaning that if a defamatory comment (or series of comments) exists on a website, the site’s owner can be taken to court – this is how Nicola Brookes was able to get information about her trolls from Facebook. Alternatively, it may be possible to take the troll themselves to court, as has been seen in the case of Caroline Criado-Perez. As with any court case, evidence is essential and it’s important to catalogue any abuse you may receive. KnowtheNet has produced a helpful infographic on how to interact on the internet, and you can see it here.

On a different note, after boxer Curtis Woodhouse had been trolled by the same account on Twitter for months, he put a bounty on the address of his assailant and visited the troll’s house to solicit an apology from him. Though this isn’t advised.

Reporting It:

FACEBOOK

How to report and remove a post
–  On the post that you want to report/remove, click on the arrow icon in the top right hand side and select I don’t like this post.
–  When the window pops open just click the appropriate reason for removing the post.
–  Then you are given the options on how to proceed. You are given plenty of options to choose from.
–  Once you have gone through this short process, you will have several options on how to proceed including blocking the person who made the original post              and making a complaint to Facebook.

Blocking a User
–  You can still block users by going to their Facebook page. Once on their profile page go to the top right corner and click on the button to the right of the    messages button.
– You now have the option to report or block them.

Dealing with Abusive Messages
–  If you are using the chat box then click on the options logo in the right corner followed by Report as Spam or Abuse…
–  If you are in your inbox, select the message that you want to get rid of or report  from the left hand column by clicking on it.
–  Click on Actions at the top of your screen and select Report as Spam or Abuse…
–  Three options will appear so just click on the one that is appropriate.

TWITTER

Blocking a user through a Tweet
–  On the tweet that you want to block, click on the more (…) icon at the bottom of the Tweet and click Block.

Blocking a user through a profile
–  Go to the profile page of the user you want to block.
–  Click on the options icon next to the follow button and select block. You can also report users by completing these same steps.

INSTAGRAM

Reporting Content or a User
–  Click on the options arrow either on a post or the users profile and click report.

Getting Further Support

Whether you’re being cyberbullied yourself or know somebody that is, help is at hand. Visit our help section for more information or join the community to start a conversation today.

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