What is a Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is the attempt by one or more minors to threaten, intimidate, belittle or make fun of other minors using a mobile phone or computer, and can be a criminal offense. This must take place between two minors, if an adult is involved it is considered harassment, stalking or sexual grooming, not bullying. Cyberbullying is considered as a bad as any other kind of bullying in the real world.
Types of Cyberbullying
Using a mobile phone to send abusive or threatening text messages, video messages, photo messages and phone calls. This includes anonymous text messages sent using Bluetooth technology and distributing phone video footage of physical attacks on people, or happy slapping.
This includes abusive or threatening emails sent to a single target, or to a group in order to encourage or incite others to take part in the sending of abusive emails or phone messages to individuals.
Instant messenger and chatrooms
The use of instant messaging or chatrooms to send abusive or threatening messages or to encourage others to send abusive or threatening messages to individuals.
Social networking sites
Creating profiles or contributing to pages on social networking sites that abuse or threaten individuals. Also, the posting of images or emails of others on social networking sites without their expressed permission, or assuming the identity of others by getting hold of their account details and sending or posting messages on their behalf.
The use of games to abuse or threaten others. This includes locking people out of games, spreading rumours about others, adding the email addresses and profiles of others to gaming mailing lists, or hacking into other’s accounts.
The use of viruses sent to others to corrupt or delete information on their personal computer.
What you should do if you are a victim
Less serious bullying should be dealt with within the relevant school or institution. Schools and teachers will have strategies in place which can deal with the problem quickly. A quick resolution can prevent a small incident from escalating.
However, there could be circumstances in which the police are called in, for the following possible reasons:
Strategies in place have failed
There are serious consequences for the victim – to an outsider, an apparent minor incident could have very serious long term consequences.
Reporting the bullying to the police could help the victim and prevent it from re-occurring.
It is vital for teachers and parents to work in co-operation with the police and other agencies e.g. social services.
For more information on:
- What you should do if you are a parent, teacher or adult responsible for a victim
- Cyberbullying and the law
- Pros and cons of taking legal action