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It is estimated that 38% of young people have been affected by cyber-bullying, with abusive emails (26%) and text messages (24%) being the most common methods.
A worrying 28% of children did not tell anyone about the abuse.

(Tarapdar, Saima and Kellett, Mary (2011) Young people's voices on cyber-bullying: what can age comparisons tell us? London: The Diana Award).

Unfortunately, unlike 'traditional' bullying that took place (and still does) in the playground, cyber and text bullying can continue long after schools have closed their gates.

Young people's internet survey facts...

Are you fed up of being lectured by teachers and carers about using the internet safely? OK - fair enough! Here's some straight facts from a survey of 200 local teenagers who all said that they usually used the internet in their bedroom.

18 told us that they like to meet new people online using a webcam

That may be safe enough. But 32 of them also said they used a website that is well known to be used by perverts to meet and groom children and young people. Don't forget that people you meet online may be dangerous.

28 had over 1000 friends on their profile

It's great to have lots of friends but to be honest, it looks a bit desperate to have as many as that! We reckon it looks cool to have about 200 - at least there's more of a chance that you'll actually know them.

120 had posted personal details on their profile

Have you ever thought that people can use random bits of personal information on your profile to do a 'google' search and find out lots more - like where you live and where you might be at certain times. It's well worth thinking carefully about what you post on Facebook for everyone see.

42 had met face to face with someone they only knew before as an online contact

Always remember how you first met someone, they could be an out and out liar and you'd never know until you met them face to face. 15 of these young people didn't take anyone with them and 6 told us that the person they met had in fact lied about who they were!

84 had been threatened, insulted or harassed online

The best advice says, never reply to cyber-bullies and keep a copy of the post for evidence if you need it.

18 had either sent or received a self-taken naked picture

These pictures can never be returned - they'll be out there for ever! The Police don't like to give young people a criminal record. But the truth is that doing this is a criminal offence and sometimes young people are persuaded or blackmailed into doing it. You need to tell someone if this ever happens to you.

The internet is great and using a bit of common sense will help to keep you safe. These are our best top tips...

  • "ThinkB4UPost" – it sounds like common sense but it's all too easy to come to regret things you write or share online. People can easily misunderstand what you say if you're not careful how you put it.
  • People you meet in chat rooms or on social networks may not be telling the truth – are they really who they say they are? You should never share personal information like your address or phone number or arrange to meet without talking to your Carer first.
  • If you want to share something private with someone, ask yourself, "Can I really trust them to keep it private?" Once it's gone, you've lost control.
  • If you're old enough to use a social networking website, get to know how to use the privacy settings. Think carefully before accepting random friend requests. What information do you want to share and with whom? 'Facebook' now asks you to decide each time you post.
  • Cyberbullying is bullying and it hurts. Think twice before you click and send. Have fun but don't offend people. It's easy to forget that jokes don't always work online!
  • Your online "footprint" may be impossible to clear away. What does your "footprint" say about you? Could it come back to haunt you? What about when you're looking for a job or applying for a course?
  • If you're worried about anything online, tell someone you trust – it may help someone else as well as you. You can also use the CEOP button to report abuse.

You can find more great tips and advice on the 'Thinkuknow' website.

How...?

Bullying on the Internet can happen in three ways:

  1. By using e-mail
  2. By targetting someone deliberately through the use of social networking sites
  3. By somebody setting up a site with the intention to 'victimise' an individual or group of people

E-Mail

Some advice for children and young people:

  • Do not open a message from any name that you do not recognise.
  • Tell an adult if you keep getting messages from names that you do not recognise.
  • If the sender is known to you and has sent messages that have upset you in the past - ignore any new messages but tell an adult about it.
  • Do not share your e-mail with anybody other than those you know very well and can trust.
  • Do not give personal information - address, telephone, your school or your real name.
  • Do not send your picture to anyone that you do not know very well.

Website Victimisation

Some advice for pupils, young people and parents:

  • Contact your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and notify them of the problem. The person responsible for the site then can then hopefully be traced.
  • Inform the Headteacher, especially if it is discovered that the site has been created by another member of the school community

Mobile Phones

Some advice for children and young people:

  • Do not give your mobile number to anybody other than those you know very well and can trust.
  • Tell someone else about it - a teacher, parent, peer supporter.
  • Mobiles and SIM cards can now be bought fairly cheaply - if you get abusive messages, it may be an option to get another phone or SIM card rather than continue to use one that can cause distress. Don't reply to any nasty messages.
  • Try to keep all of the messages in your phone as it can be use as evidence. If you can't then note the dates and times and content of text messages.
  • Inform the Police - first you may want to talk to others you know you can rely on for support. Think about whether you want to talk to a member of your family, a teacher or someone else first? These and many more adults will be there to offer support for you to approach the Police.
  • When you do notify the Police - make sure you have a written record of dates, times and content of messages, especially if you have not been able to store the messages on your phone.
  • Sending threatening or bullying text messages is a criminal offence that the Police recognise as a crime.

Resources - Cyberbullying

Websites

  • Thinkuknow

    Thinkuknow is a website with many resources for teachers and professionals to download and use in the area of Internet safety. You will be required to register on the site before you are able to use the resources.

  • Keeping Kids Safe- O2

    O2 have produced some useful guidance around cyber safety called 'Keeping Kids Safe'. The guidance is aimed at parents but useful for those working with young people too.

  • Digizen.org

    The Digizen website provides information for educators, parents, carers, and young people. It is used to strengthen their awareness and understanding of what digital citizenship is and encourages users of technology to be and become responsible DIGItal citiZENS.

Documents

See these other useful websites

  • Anti-Bullying Alliance Network
    National Children's Bureau
    NSPCC
    Healthy Schools