Cyberbullying is bullying using digital technologies including mobile phones, email and social media tools. Cyberbullying includes:
- Pranking: Repeated hang ups, anonymous, mocking or threatening phone calls.
- Image sharing: Forwarding or sharing unflattering or private images without permission.
- Sexually explicit images: People of any age, who forward or share images of a sexual nature of a person under 18 need to be aware that this is a criminal offence (child pornography) that may result in prosecution.
- Text and email: Sending insulting or threatening text messages or emails.
- Personal online information: Publishing online someone's private, personal or embarrassing information without permission, or spreading rumours online.
- Identity theft: Assuming someone’s identity online and negatively representing them in a way that damages their reputation or relationships.
- Hate sites: Creating hate sites or implementing social exclusion campaigns on social networking sites.
It is also cyberbullying when a student, or students, uses technology to run a multi-step campaign to bully another student. For example, setting another student up to be assaulted, video-recording their humiliation, posting the video-recording online and then sending the website address to others.
Cyberbullying vs bullying
While cyberbullying is similar to bullying in some ways, there are also differences.
- Cyberbullying is invasive
It can be difficult to escape and is incredibly invasive. It is more likely to occur outside of school, including while at home, and can happen at any time.
- Cyberbullying can involve a large audience
It can involve harmful material being widely and rapidly shared to a large audience, for example, rumours and images can be posted on public forums or sent to many people at once. This material can also continue to be available and harmful long after the cyberbullying has ceased.
- Cyberbullies have a sense of anonymity
It can provide the bully with a sense of relative anonymity and distance from the target, so there is a lack of immediate feedback or consequences.
- Power imbalance
The power imbalance between the ‘bully’ and ‘target’, the repetitive nature of the bullying behaviour and the intent to harm, humiliate, embarrass, ostracise, or isolate can occur in bullying and cyberbullying.
- Types of behaviour
Types of behaviour including spreading rumours and making threats or insults, can occur in bullying and cyberbullying.
- Reasons for behaving in a bullying way
People often engage in cyberbullying for the same reasons they engage in bullying.
Advice and safety
Our site has resources to help students, parents and schools to deal with cyberbullying.