Anybody can become a recipient of cyberbullying, regardless of how old they are or the kind of job that they do or what their hobbies might be. In fact, it is well documented that a lot of our favourite celebrities and role models also experience cyberbullying, often to an unrelenting extreme.
Cyberbullying was experienced in the previous 12-months by 26% of the students we spoke to in 2021 and comes in many forms.
Although, like all forms of bullying it is 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.”
The most important thing is knowing how to deal with it. Here are the top 9 ways to deal with cyberbullying if you’re being targeted:
1. Never respond
Do not reply 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 into trouble.
If you can, take a screenshot of anything that you think could be cyberbullying and keep a record of it on your computer or phone.
3. Block and report
Most online platforms have this function, make sure you block and report the offending users to the appropriate social media platform. Or talk to us about removing it!
4. Talk about it
You may not feel it at the time, but cyberbullying can affect you in many different ways. You 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.
5. How serious is it?
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.
If it is more serious, then talk to us or a trusted adult. Whether that be your parents/guardians, an older family member or a teacher at school.
6. 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.
7. 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. You wouldn’t talk to random people on the street, so why do it online?
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. Learn about catfishing here.
8. 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 person bullying you in a controlled, equal environment. This is a proactive and effective way to deal with online bullying.
Always remember that happy and secure people do not bully others. People who bully are going through a difficult time themselves and will often need a lot of help and support. That doesn’t make it right what they are doing but it does give some insight and understanding and help to reassure you that it is never your fault.
Cyberbullying comes in a whole range of different shapes and sizes and is something that is totally subjective to the person being cyberbullied.
From our research on cyberbullying, we found that up to 7 in 10 young people experience cyberbullying before the age of 18.
Ditch the Label defines cyberbullying as the following:
Cyberbullying is the use of digital technologies with an intent to offend, humiliate, threaten, harass or abuse somebody.
– Ditch the Label
We all spend a ridiculous amount of time online. With the internet in your pocket, in school, at work and at home, it is impossible to escape it. That’s why being bullied online can be absolutely rubbish, and can make it feel impossible to live your life. We have put together this so you can understand everything you need to know about cyberbullying and where you can get help if you need it.
What are the different types of cyberbullying?
Examples of cyberbullying include:
Nasty messages online or on your mobile phone
Comments or replies on your social media posts or posts about you
Being excluded from online group chats on purpose
Embarrassing or harmful photos being put online without your permission
Sending offensive pictures through a messaging app
Rumours and lies about you on a website, messaging app or social media platform
Offensive chat or voice communication on an online game
Fake online profiles being created with an intent to defame you
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-harm as a coping mechanism
22% tried to change their appearance to avoid further abuse
13% stopped using the app
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.
Cyber Bullying Prosecutions
Cyberbullying cases can often go unreported by victims 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 her bullies’ names 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, the 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, it’s a good example of how cowardly bullies are when the tables are turned.
Reporting Cyberbullying on 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 chatbox 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.
Reporting Cyberbullying on 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.
Reporting Cyberbullying on 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 Ditch the Label community today.
If you want to learn more about bullying-related trends, behaviours and attitudes across the past six years. We’ve got loads of research for you to read!
Every year, Ditch the Label carry out extensive research into cyberbullying. We delve into the reasons why people cyberbully, the different types of cyberbullying, and the long terms effects that it has on people’s emotional well-being.
Cyberbullying continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing young people online. It’s eye-opening stuff if we do say so ourselves.
Cyberbullying Facts in 2018
35% of people asked 12-20 frequently experience cyberbullying in the UK
37% developed depression as a result of cyberbullying
62% would be unlikely to intervene if they saw somebody cyberbullying somebody else
25% self-harmed because of cyberbullying
Only 29% said social media companies do enough to prevent cyberbullying
23% said cyberbullying is “just part of growing up”
35% of people sent a screenshot of someone’s status or photo to laugh at them in a group chat
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