are you being cyber bullied?

Cyberbullying comes in a whole range of different shapes and sizes and is something that is totally subjective to the person being cyberbullied.

From our research on cyberbullying, we found that up to 7 in 10 young people experience cyberbullying before the age of 18.

Ditch the Label defines cyberbullying as the following:

Cyberbullying is the use of digital technologies with an intent to offend, humiliate, threaten, harass or abuse somebody.

– Ditch the Label

We all spend a ridiculous amount of time online. With the internet in your pocket, in school, at work and at home, it is impossible to escape it. That’s why being bullied online can be absolutely rubbish, and can make it feel impossible to live your life. We have put together this so you can understand everything you need to know about cyberbullying and where you can get help if you need it. 

What are the different types of cyberbullying?

Examples of cyberbullying include:

  • Nasty messages online or on your mobile phone
  • Comments or replies on your social media posts or posts about you
  • Being excluded from online group chats on purpose
  • Embarrassing or harmful photos being put online without your permission
  • Sending offensive pictures through a messaging app
  • Rumours and lies about you on a website, messaging app or social media platform
  • Offensive chat or voice communication on an online game
  • Fake online profiles being created with an intent to defame you

If you are experiencing cyberbullying or you know someone who is, check out our Top 9 Tips For Dealing With Cyberbullying or visit our Community to talk to a trained digital mentor who can help you with what to do next.


Are you being Cyberbullied?

Asking yourself the following questions can help you determine whether you’re being cyberbullied:

  • Are you on the receiving end of hurtful comments online?
  • Is someone persistently bothering you on social media?
  • Have you ever been threatened by someone you know online?
  • Do people spread gossip or rumours about you on the internet?
  • Has a picture of you been shared without your consent?
  • Have you been hacked or impersonated online?
  • Are you being blackmailed online?

Are you looking to prevent cyberbullying?

Anybody can become a recipient of cyberbullying, regardless of how old they are or the kind of job that they do or what their hobbies might be. It is never anything to do with you.


Cyberbullying Statistics

From our research, we found that up to 7 in 10 young people experience cyberbullying before the age of 18.

Taken from The Annual Bullying Survey, Ditch the Label

  • 7 out of 10 young people have been victims of cyberbullying.
  • 37% of young people have experienced cyberbullying on a highly frequent basis
  • 20% of young people have experienced extreme cyberbullying on a daily basis
  • Young people are found to be twice as likely to be bullied on Instagram than on any other social network.
  • 54% of young people using Facebook reported that they have experienced bullying on the network.
  • 28% of young people using Twitter reported that they have experienced bullying on the network.
  • Cyberbullying is found to have catastrophic effects on the self-esteem and social lives of up to 69% of young people.
  • An estimated 5.43 million young people in the UK have experienced cyberbullying with 1.26 million subjected to extreme cyberbullying on a daily basis.
  • New research shows that young males and females are equally at risk.

Taken from The Wireless Report, Ditch the Label

  • 37% 13 – 25-year-olds have sent a naked photo of themselves (63% to a boyfriend/girlfriend and 32% to someone they are attracted to)
  • 30% of 15 yr olds have sent a naked photo of themselves at least once
  • 15% of 13 & 14 yr olds have sent a naked photo of themselves at least once
  • 5% of 13-year-olds send naked photos several times a week.
  • 24% have sent a naked photo to someone they know only online.
  • 24% have had a naked photo shared without their consent.
  • 49% believe is just harmless fun.
  • 16% said it’s the normal thing to do.
  • 13% felt pressurised into doing it.
  • Females are twice as likely to send a naked photo of themselves more than once a week than men.
  • 62% have been sent nasty private messages via smartphone apps
  • 52% have never reported the abuse they have received.
  • 47% have received nasty profile comments
  • 40% have received nasty photo comments.
  • 42% have received hate-based comments (racism, homophobia etc.)
  • 28% have had personal information shared without consent.
  • 52% have never reported abuse on smartphone apps
  • 26% felt like it wasn’t taken seriously when reported
  • 49% experienced a loss in confidence as a result of the bullying
  • 28% retaliated and sent something abusive back
  • 24% turned to self-harm as a coping mechanism
  • 22% tried to change their appearance to avoid further abuse
  • 13% stopped using the app

What Does The Law Say?

As cyberbullying is a relatively new phenomenon, the UK courts are still trying to catch up with it and sentence offenders effectively. Though no laws specifically apply to cyberbullying alone, there are several laws which can be applied in cyberbullying cases:

  • Protection from Harassment Act 1997
  • Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994
  • Malicious Communications Act 1988
  • Communications Act 2003
  • Breach of the Peace (Scotland)
  • Defamation Act 2013

In 2012 The Crown Prosecution Service published guidelines on how cyberbullying cases would be assessed against current laws, which you can find here.

On January 1st 2014, the Defamation Act 2013 came into order and can be read here.

Cyber Bullying Prosecutions

Cyberbullying cases can often go unreported by victims for fear of what people may say, and indeed this was an issue faced by Nicola Brookes, who was remorselessly cyberbullied after posting a message of support on Frankie Cocozza’s Facebook page. After taking evidence to the Police with no success, she took her case to the High Court and won a battle with Facebook to have her bullies’ names revealed. You can read more about the story here. The case was a landmark battle, as for the first time it meant a website had to release members’ details, opening them up for prosecution.

Trolls are increasingly being taken to court and if found guilty, given fines and facing jail terms. Two people who sent abusive messages towards Caroline Criado-Perez were jailed for 8 weeks and 12 weeks and were ordered to pay £800 in fines.

A website owner will generally be responsible for content posted on the website, meaning that if a defamatory comment (or series of comments) exists on a website, the site’s owner can be taken to court – this is how Nicola Brookes was able to get information about her trolls from Facebook. Alternatively, it may be possible to take the troll themselves to court, as has been seen in the case of Caroline Criado-Perez. As with any court case, the evidence is essential and it’s important to catalogue any abuse you may receive. KnowtheNet has produced a helpful infographic on how to interact on the internet, and you can see it here.

On a different note, after boxer Curtis Woodhouse had been trolled by the same account on Twitter for months, he put a bounty on the address of his assailant and visited the troll’s house to solicit an apology from him. Though this isn’t advised, it’s a good example of how cowardly bullies are when the tables are turned.

Reporting Cyberbullying

Reporting Cyberbullying on Facebook

 How to report and remove a post
–  On the post that you want to report/remove, click on the arrow icon in the top right hand side and select I don’t like this post.
–  When the window pops open just click the appropriate reason for removing the post.
–  Then you are given the options on how to proceed. You are given plenty of options to choose from.
–  Once you have gone through this short process, you will have several options on how to proceed including blocking the person who made the original post and making a complaint to Facebook.

Blocking a User
–  You can still block users by going to their Facebook page. Once on their profile page go to the top right corner and click on the button to the right of the messages button.
–  You now have the option to report or block them.

Dealing with Abusive Messages
–  If you are using the chatbox then click on the options logo in the right corner followed by Report as Spam or Abuse…
–  If you are in your inbox, select the message that you want to get rid of or report from the left-hand column by clicking on it.
–  Click on Actions at the top of your screen and select Report as Spam or Abuse…
–  Three options will appear so just click on the one that is appropriate.

Reporting Cyberbullying on Twitter

Blocking a user through a Tweet
–  On the tweet that you want to block, click on the more (…) icon at the bottom of the Tweet and click Block.

Blocking a user through a profile
–  Go to the profile page of the user you want to block.
–  Click on the options icon next to the follow button and select block.
–  You can also report users by completing these same steps.

Reporting Cyberbullying on Instagram

Reporting Content or a User
–  Click on the options arrow either on a post or the users profile and click report.

Getting Further Support

Whether you’re being cyberbullied yourself or know somebody that is, help is at hand. Visit our help section for more information or join the Ditch the Label community today.

Research papers

If you want to learn more about bullying-related trends, behaviours and attitudes across the past six years. We’ve got loads of research for you to read!

Cyberbullying was experienced in the previous 12-months by 26% of the students we spoke to in 2019 and comes in many forms.

Although, like all forms of bullying it is subjective to the recipient, we define cyberbullying as the following

“Cyberbullying is the use of digital technologies with an intent to offend, humiliate, threaten, harass or abuse somebody.”

Anybody can become a recipient of cyberbullying, regardless of how old they are or the kind of job that they do or what their hobbies might be. In fact, it is well documented that a lot of our favourite celebrities and role models also experience cyberbullying, often to an unrelenting extreme.

The most important thing is knowing how to deal with it. Here are the top 9 ways to deal with cyberbullying if you’re being targeted:

1. Never respond

Do not reply to anything that has been said or retaliate by doing the same thing back. Saying something nasty back or posting something humiliating in revenge may make matters worse or even get you into trouble.

2. Screenshot

If you can, take a screenshot of anything that you think could be cyberbullying and keep a record of it on your computer or phone.

3. Block and report

Most online platforms have this function, make sure you block and report the offending users to the appropriate social media platform. Or talk to us about removing it!

4. Talk about it

You may not feel it at the time, but cyberbullying can affect you in many different ways. You are not alone. Talking to somebody about bullying not only helps you seek support but it documents evidence and will take a huge weight from your shoulders.

5. How serious is it?

Assess how serious the cyberbullying is. If it is light name-calling from somebody that you don’t know, it may just be easier to just report and block that user.

If it is more serious, then talk to us or a trusted adult. Whether that be your parents/guardians, an older family member or a teacher at school.

6. Report it

If you are experiencing cyberbullying from somebody you go to school or college with, report it to a teacher. If somebody is threatening you, giving out your personal information or making you fear for your safety, contact the Police or an adult as soon as you can.

7. Be private

We recommend that you keep your social media privacy settings high and do not connect with anybody who you do not know offline. You wouldn’t talk to random people on the street, so why do it online?

People may not always be who they say they are and you could be putting you and those that you care about the most at risk. Learn about catfishing here.

8. Talk to them

Sometimes it may be appropriate to request that a teacher or responsible adult hosts a mediation between you and the person who is bullying you online if they go to the same school or college as you. A mediation can be scary but is often incredibly powerful. It is essentially a face-to-face conversation between you and the person bullying you in a controlled, equal environment. This is a proactive and effective way to deal with online bullying.

9. Sympathise.

Always remember that happy and secure people do not bully others. People who bully are going through a difficult time themselves and will often need a lot of help and support. That doesn’t make it right what they are doing but it does give some insight and understanding and help to reassure you that it is never your fault.

Check out our cyberbullying support hub here, report cyberbullying to us or join our community to start a conversation about cyberbullying.

join our community

The internet is pretty sweet right? We can all agree on that. But for people who are dealing with online hate, it can be a really rubbish place to spend time. The comments section on most articles, photos and celebrity IG’s is pretty much a minefield of tough to read insults or outright lies, and when that is directed at you, it can feel overwhelming and pretty damn lonely. The most important thing to remember if you are going through online abuse is that you are not alone. We’ve got your back and that’s why we have joined up with Simple and Little Mix to bring you a toolkit of how to deal with online hate.

1) Breathe 

Getting angry after receiving some nasty comments is pretty unsurprising, especially when a lot of them are written just to upset you. Using breathing techniques will help get your emotions under control and give you a minute to think about what you want to do next. Try following the GIF below – breathe in as the circle expands and breathe out as it gets smaller, and repeat. It might not have you feeling completely chill, but it should help to take the edge off and clear your mind a little. 


2) Think 

Being a keyboard warrior can be a good thing when it comes to saving the planet, or fighting injustice, but not so much when it comes to dealing with online hate. It’s natural to want to jump on your phone and start tapping away a reply that is both hilarious and devastating, but you might find yourself quickly stuck in a feud that even a drama channel would probably stay out of. So, instead of insulting them back, think about what you really want to happen as a result of this – the chances are, a long drawn out argument in your DM’s is probably not the one. 

3) Report it 

Everyone should have a pretty basic understanding of when and where to report stuff online and on different platforms. You can find a super quick guide to where you can do it on the big 3 (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) in our Ultimate Guide to Cyberbullying here. If it’s in a game you can find more information here. You can also report it to us here if you have already tried reporting to social media sites with no luck and we will get it taken down for you. Basically, we’ve done all the work for you so you can just get it sorted! You can thank us later. 

4) Take a Break

If it’s on social media, take a break from it. We know it’s often easier said than done, when friends are organising their boss weekend plans in IG DM’s, but it will be pretty crucial to you feeling better. It can feel really overwhelming when you are dealing with online hate, but taking a break from where it is happening will help you realise that your world is much bigger than your inbox. 

Try leaving your phone at home when you hang out with your pals or put it somewhere safe and out of sight when you are chilling with the family, an turn off your social media notifications. Trust us, a little bit of distance from it will make the world of difference. If you have a big following who expect to see some new snaps uploaded every day, try using a scheduling service so you can still take your much-needed break without your audience getting rowdy for their avo toast pic.

4) Take Care of You 

Dealing with online hate can be really stressful. Try some stress management techniques to make sure you are looking after yourself through it all. This epic list of 101 Ways to Chill Out and Reduce Stress will give you some super speedy suggestions for getting on top of it, and you can also read our Ultimate Guide to Stress to understand a bit more about it. 

A bit of self-care goes a long way when you are dealing with online hate. Make sure you take a bit of time for yourself to do something you love or that you find relaxing that doesn’t involve being glued to your phone. Why not try taking a long walk, practicing a new makeup look or hairstyle, invite a friend out for a kick about or watch your fave movie complete with a gigantic bowl of popcorn. Doing what you love will help you focus on yourself rather than the situation and remind you that you are so much more than the hate you’re getting. 

6) Talk to Someone 

Getting online abuse can make you really angry but it can also make you feel pretty lonely. The important thing to remember is that you are not alone in this, and we’re certainly here if you wanna get it off your chest. Click here to join our community and get advice from real people like you and our trained mentors. 

Otherwise, talking to a trusted friend, parent, teacher, or colleague will help you have an outlet for what is going on and ensures you will have someone to support you through it.

We’ve teamed up with Simple and Little Mix to tackle online hate. For more information on #ChooseKindness, click here

It is no secret that the landscape of bullying continues to change, which is why we stress the importance of researching trends, attitudes and behaviours so that we can continue to innovate and develop world-class interventions and ways of tackling cyberbullying.

But, what do the stats say?

Latest statistics are taken from Ditch the Label’s Annual Bullying Survey 2017

Frequency

As were are increasingly living more and more of our lives online, cyberbullying is something which can affect anyone at any time:

  • 17% of those surveyed have experienced cyberbullying.
  • 29% of those surveyed reported experiencing cyberbullying at least once a month.
  • 16% surveyed said they were cyberbullied at least once a week.

Impacts of cyberbullying

Cyberbullying can have serious impacts on the self-esteem and mental health of people who experience it:

  • 41% of people who were cyberbullied developed social anxiety
  • 37% developed depression
  • 26% had suicidal thoughts
  • 26% deleted their social media profile
  • 25% self-harmed
  • 25% stopped using social media
  • 20% skipped class
  • 14% developed an eating disorder
  • 9% abused drugs or alcohol.

What counts as Cyberbullying?

When asked about the nature of cyberbullying, here is how our respondents answered:

  • 35% had sent a screenshot of someone’s status or photo to laugh at them in a group chat
  • 25% had trolled somebody in an online game
  • 17% liked or shared something online that openly mocks another person
  • 16% had done something to subtly annoy somebody they didn’t like online
  • 12% had sent a nasty message, either privately or publicly to somebody they know offline
  • 5% had created a fake profile and used it to annoy or upset another person.

What have you experienced?

When asked about what happened to those who were cyberbullied, here’s how they responded:

  • 39% had a nasty comment posted on their profile
  • 34% had a nasty comment posted on their photo
  • 68% has been sent a nasty private message
  • 18% had their profile wrongfully reported
  • 23% had been bullied in an online game
  • 24% had their private information shared
  • 18% had somebody impersonate them online
  • 41% had rumours about them posted online
  • 27% had photos/videos of them that they didn’t like

Find out More

Want to know more? Have a read through our past research papers to get an idea of the stats around bullying and other related issues from the last 5 years…