Bullying is purposeful, repeated behavior designed to cause physical and emotional distress. Cyberbullying (or online bullying) is bullying using technologies, particularly over the internet or via mobile and gaming networks.
Cyberbullying, or online bullying, can be defined as the use of technologies by an individual or by a group of people to deliberately and repeatedly upset someone else. Cyberbullying is often linked to discrimination, including on the basis of gender, race, faith, sexual orientation, gender identity or special educational needs and disabilities. For example, girls report experiencing a higher incidence of cyberbullying than boys, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are more likely to experience bullying, including cyberbullying.
Responding to cyberbullying
• The school should act as soon as an incident has been reported or identified. This will include providing appropriate support for the person who has been cyberbullied; stopping the incident from spreading and assist in removing material from circulation; and working with the person who has carried out the bullying to ensure that it does not happen again.
• The person being bullied may have evidence of the activity and should be encouraged to keep this to assist any investigation. Cyberbullying can also be reported to the provider of the service where it has taken place.
• Provide information to staff and students on steps they can take to protect themselves online – for example, advise those targeted not to retaliate or reply; provide advice on blocking or removing people from contact lists; and ask them to think carefully about what private information they may have in the public domain.
• A member of the senior leadership team should take overall responsibility for the school’s work. The whole school community will need to be involved in prevention activities.
• Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is everyone’s responsibility. All school staff are required to undertake regularly updated safeguarding and child protection training, which includes understanding, preventing and responding to cyberbullying.
• The key elements of an effective approach are: understanding and talking about cyberbullying; integrating cyberbullying prevention into relevant policies and practices; ensuring reporting routes are accessible and visible; promoting the positive use of technology; and evaluating the impact of prevention activities.
Cyberbullying can be characterized in several specific ways that differ from face-to-face bullying. These include the profile of the person carrying out the bullying; the location of online bullying; the potential audience; the perceived anonymity of the person cyberbullying; motivation of the person cyberbullying; and the digital evidence of cyberbullying. For the majority of people, most experiences of technology are useful and positive. Research figures vary but indicate that around 10% of young people have experienced cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can affect and involve all members of the school community – pupils, staff, parents and careers. Every school must have measures in place to prevent all forms of bullying, including cyberbullying.