Harcèlement L'École des Réseaux Sociaux
  • Online bullying can take many forms. It can be unkind or hurtful messages shared in a game or app, nasty comments responding to another person’s social media post or social media content created or shared by someone to harass, upset or damage the reputation of someone. Impersonating someone online can also be a form of bullying, as can deliberately excluding someone from online groups or gatherings. Social media can be used to quickly spread gossip and rumours in order to upset someone. Bullying can also occur through editing and manipulation of photos and videos.
  • Bullying happens repeatedly and deliberately to the same person in order to harass or upset them.
  • In many cases, being an online bully isn’t a crime in itself. However, bullying behaviour may break a number of other laws related to threatening behaviour. harassment, stalking or malicious/abusive communication.
  • There can be many motives behind why someone seeks to bully another person online. For some, they believe that the internet offers greater anonymity to bully someone; that it would be harder to identify them or hold them responsible for their actions. However, many bullying incidents online usually involve someone the targeted person knows, rather than a complete stranger. 
  • For others, bullying may be a form of gaining attention from others online. Some bullies may see their behaviour as a ‘game’ or may target someone because they feel they are deserving of abuse. Some people who bully do so because they themselves are being bullied, and it provides a way to deflect their issues onto someone else.
  • Online bullying has the potential to negatively affect a child’s emotional, mental and physical well-being. It can lead to loss of confidence, anxiety, fear and upset. For some children it can lead to a withdrawal from social situations and contact with friends,family and peers. For some, it can lead to greater issues such as depression or acts of self-harm.
Betty L'École des Réseaux Sociaux
  • Help your child understand what to do if they are ever targeted by online bullying, or see someone else targeted. Encourage them to always report the user(s), block/mute the user(s), and save or screenshot messages and other content as evidence. Most importantly, they should always tell a trusted adult as soon as they can about the bullying incident.
  • Remind your child that retaliating to online bullying only makes the issue worse. Someone who bullies is doing so to get the desired reaction, either to upset or anger their target. Reacting to their behaviour will just encourage them to continue. Not retaliating doesn’t mean ignoring the behaviour, so encourage your child to take positive action instead.
  • Discuss with your child the importance of being an ‘upstander’ rather than a bystander if they see online bullying taking place. Your child might be worried about telling someone or reporting a bully in case they become a target; you can reassure them that reporting tools on social media are anonymous (the bully won’t know who has reported them) and to consider how they would feel if the bully was targeting them rather than someone else.
  • Work with your child to explore the reporting tools on their favourite apps and games so they know how to report any instances of online bullying. 
  • As bullying scenarios can be complicated, online services may not remove content if they don’t understand the context. If this happens, you may wish to seek advice from an organisation or helpline.
  • If you have any concerns that your child is being bullied, or that your child is bullying others online, then always seek further help and advice – this could be from your child’s school, a youth group or a helpline. If you feel laws have been broken by online bullying, then this behaviour should be reported to local law enforcement.