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How to identify and deal with cyberbullying

13 March 2018

Cyberbullying is bullying done through the use of technology – the internet, a mobile phone or a camera – to hurt or embarrass someone. This form of bullying can be shared widely and quickly with a lot of people, magnifying its impact, which is why it’s so dangerous and hurtful.

What does cyberbullying look like?

To better understand what cyberbullying looks like, here are a few of the more common examples:

  • Being sent mean or hurtful text messages from a friend or stranger.
  • Getting nasty, threatening or hurtful messages through social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, or through sites where people can ask/answer questions, such as Formspring or internet forums.
  • People sending photos and videos of your child to others to try and embarrass or hurt them.
  • People spreading rumours about your child via emails, social networking sites or text messages.
  • People trying to stop your child from communicating with others.
  • People stealing passwords or hacking into your child’s accounts and changing the information there.
  • People setting up fake profiles pretending to be your child, or posting messages or status updates from your child’s accounts

Why cyberbullying is so dangerous?

  • It’s often done in secret, with the bully hiding who they are by creating false profiles or names, or sending anonymous messages.
  • It’s difficult to remove, once it’s shared online it can be recorded and saved in different places.
  • If the person being bullied uses social media and technology a lot it’s very hard for them to escape.
  • The content (photos, texts, videos) can be shared with a lot of people so a lot of people can view or take part in it.
  • The content may be easy to find by searching on a web browser such as Google.

How cyberbullying can affect your teenager

Cyberbullying could affect your teenager in different ways. They could feel:

  • Hopeless and stuck, like they can’t get out of a situation
  • Alone, like there is no one to help them
  • Guilty, like it’s their fault
  • Uncool, if they don’t fit in with the popular kids
  • Depressed and rejected by their friends and other groups of people
  • Unsafe and afraid
  • Stressed out from wondering what to do and why this is happening to them.

What you can do about cyberbullying to help your child

  • Keep a record of the bullying. You can use a log or notebook to report behaviour to the school if it's coming from a classmate.
  • Contact the eSafety Commissioner or report the bullying on different social media websites.
  • The Australian Human Rights Commission (1300 656 419) has a complaint-handling service which may investigate complaints of discrimination, harassment and bullying.
  • Encourage your child not to engage with the bullying by responding to it. Walk away.
  • Log out and stop messaging if a child feels they’re being harassed.
  • Set up the privacy options on their social networking sites.
  • Explain to your child how they shouldn’t share private information, such as passwords, addresses and phone numbers, with people they don’t know.
  • Discuss the consequences of sharing personal photos online.

When it comes to bullying, always remember the law is on your side. To better understand your rights, check out this legal rights fact sheet.

Reach out logo

ReachOut is Australia's leading online health website for young people and their parents. Working with registered counsellors, psychologists and mental health professionals ReachOut provides online self-help tools that are used by over 1.5 million Australians each year. A valuable resource for many parents, teens and young adults.

If your child, or anyone you know is having issues with self-esteem, confidence or mental or physical health, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

This content includes the views and opinions of a third-party, and does not necessarily reflect the views of Suncorp. Information is intended to be of a general nature only and any advice has been prepared without taking into account any person's particular objectives, personal situation or needs.

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