What is cyberbullying

By  eSafety Commissioner     |    Updated: 27th April, 2017    |    3 min read

Cyberbullying is the use of technology to bully a person or group with the intent to hurt them socially, psychologically or even physically.

Right now there are many young people being cyberbullied. By reporting it, talking about it and supporting each other we can stop it.

What does cyberbullying look like?

Cyberbullying can occur in many ways, including:

  • abusive texts and emails
  • hurtful messages, images or videos
  • imitating others online
  • excluding others online
  • humiliating others online
  • nasty online gossip and chat.

I am being cyberbullied—how do I stop it?

  • talk to someone you trust straight away—like a parent, sibling, uncle/aunt, teacher or friend, or contact Kids Helpline
  • don’t retaliate or respond—they might use it against you
  • block the bully and change your privacy settings
  • report the abuse to the service and get others to as well
  • collect the evidence—keep mobile phone messages, take screen shots and print emails or social networking conversations
  • do something you enjoy—catch-up with friends, listen to good music, watch a good show or chat online to people you can trust
  • remember you didn’t ask for this—nobody deserves to be bullied and you will get through this.

School support

Most schools have policies in place to address cyberbullying and should be able to provide support to you and other students, no matter whether the bullying is from a student at your school or not. Talk to a teacher or counsellor you like and trust.

What if a friend is being cyberbullied?

If you have a friend or know someone at school who is being cyberbullied:

  • don’t join in—don’t comment on posts, images or videos
  • don’t forward or share posts, images or videos that will hurt others
  • leave negative groups and conversations
  • report bullying to someone that can help—this can be an anonymous report to a parent or teacher
  • if you are confident, call others on their bullying and ask them to stop—’Enough. This isn’t funny’
  • support your friend online and offline—’I heard about the posts—you don’t deserve it. I’m here for you.’

Lodging a cyberbullying complaint

What if the cyberbullying material is still there?

1. Report the cyberbullying material to the social media service it happened on

Social media services should remove cyberbullying material that is reported to them. Most social media services have a reporting area on their website.  Our Social media safety centres page also provides information about how to report material on various services.

2. Collect evidence of the cyberbullying material

Depending on where the cyberbullying material is posted, you might need to do this first, before you report it to the site. A simple way to collect evidence is taking a photo or screenshot of the material. If you submit a complaint to us about the cyberbullying material, you will need to provide this evidence.

3. Report cyberbullying to the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner

If the social media service fails to remove the material within 48 hours of you reporting it to them, you can make a complaint to the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner.

4. Block the person

We recommend that you block or unfriend the person upsetting you, so they cannot keep upsetting you while the material is being removed.

© Commonwealth of Australia 2017. Published by the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner and freely available at: https://esafety.gov.au/esafety-information/esafety-issues/cyberbullying. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives 2.5 Australia Licence

Also check the related topics:  

Cyberbullying Cyberbullying

Factsheet provided by eSafety Commissioner


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