According to the children’s charity the NSPCC, cyberbullying is becoming the most common type of bullying. There has been an 88% increase of young people seeking help for online abuse over the last five years.

‘Cyberbullying’ is when a young person is threatened, harassed, embarrassed or targeted by another young person online.

The internet, social network sites, mobile phones and online games can be used to cyberbully.

Online abuse includes sending upsetting messages, posting hateful comments on social media or sharing photos of someone without their permission.

An example of cyberbullying on a gaming site. 

Physical and verbal bullying has dropped in the last decade, but online bullying is rising.

According to the I-Safe Foundation, over half of young people have been bullied online, and the same number have also engaged in online bullying.

Young people can be bullied on social media networks
Young people can be bullied on social media networks

An estimated 3.5 million UK teenagers have a social media profile, making young people feel unable to escape the internet.

Some people even use anonymous profiles to bully others without being found out.

Safety Net Online has tips on how to stay safe from online abuse.

How to stay safe online:

  • Never share private personal information online- this includes your address or phone number.
  • Don’t share anything online that you don’t want to go public– people can use or download it.
  • Never give your password to anyone else.
  • Know how to report or block people– if someone upsets you or makes you feel uncomfortable block them immediately.
  • Don’t meet up with anyone you speak to online- they may not be who you think they are. Tell your parents if someone asks to meet you.

Despite safety warnings, an estimated 5.43 million young people in the UK have experienced online bullying.

“Bullying can have a devastating impact on a young person”
Peter Wanless, Chief Executive Officer of NSPCC 

Cyberbullying can have serious effects on victims.

A girl telling Childline about her experience of being bullied (NSPCC)
A girl telling Childline about her experience of being bullied (NSPCC)

Peter Wanless, Chief Executive of the NSPCC told The Guardian that online bullying is “one of the biggest child-protection challenges of this generation”.

He said bullying “can have a devastating impact on a young person, affect their self-worth, leave them feeling isolated and can be a trigger for depression. In the worst-case scenarios, bullying has driven children and young people to self-harm and even suicide.”

If you do experience online bullying, there are steps you can take.

  • Tell a trusted adult– a parent or teacher can help. Don’t keep bullying secret.
  • Save all evidence– screenshot mesages or comments for proof. Show it to your trusted adult.
  • Don’t respond– this is what the bully wants and gives them power.
  • Don’t retaliate– it reinforces bullying behaviour and could make it esculate.
  • Block the bully- block or remove the bully from all online sites.

Information from SafeKids.

If you are suffering from cyberbullying, or suspect someone you know is, there are organisations that can help you: