The Diana Award defines cyberbullying behaviour as
‘repeated, negative use of technology to intentionally hurt others’.
This is a type of indirect bullying behaviour and includes, for example, posting unwanted pictures or messages, accessing another person’s account without their permission, creating fake accounts to impersonate or harass someone and sharing other people’s private information online.
Facts about Cyberbullying Behaviour
1. Cyberbullying behaviour is increasing year on year. Just over 1 in 3 young people experience bullying behaviour online (Patchin & Hinduja, 2016)
2. Reported rates of cyberbullying behaviour begin at 10 years old and continue similarly up to 15 years old (Department for Education, 2018)
3. Young people who experience cyberbullying behaviour are at a greater risk for self-harm and suicidal behaviours (John & et al, 2019)
4. 83% of teenagers have witnessed bullying behaviour on social media (Safety Net, 2019)
5. 88% rise in Childline counselling sessions concerned with Cyberbullying behaviour (NSPCC,2016)
6. 67% of respondents to a survey conducted by The Diana Award reported that young people find it easier to discuss online issues with someone their own age than a teacher (The Diana Award, 2018)
7. Many parents, teachers and students alike believe that cyberbullying behaviour is the most common type of bullying behaviour. However, according to our data, the most common type of bullying behaviour is verbal, followed by social exclusion (The Diana Award, 2018).
Why do people exhibit bullying behaviour online or ‘cyberbully’?
Research has found students who engaged in cyberbullying behaviour reported that they did so because it made them feel ‘funny, popular and powerful’ (Mishna, Cook, Gadalla & Daciuk,2010). Although they have less empathy, they are actually more fearful of becoming the target of cyberbullying behaviour (Steffgen, Konig, Pfetsch & Melzer, 2011).
Is it illegal?
Although there is not one piece of legislation that identifies cyberbullying behaviour as illegal, there are different acts that state behaviour under the broad umbrella of cyberbullying behaviour is, in fact, illegal.
- The Malicious Communications Act (1988) states it’s illegal to cause distress or harm to another through electronic communication.
- The Prevention of Harassment Act (1997) states that it is a criminal offense to harass others online.
- The Communications Act (2003) states it is unlawful to send, via any electronic communication, a message which is deemed grossly offensive or menacing.
Types of Cyberbullying
1- Denigration: This is sharing information about another person that is false or damaging, sharing photos of someone for people to make fun of, spreading fake rumours and gossip.
2- Flaming/ trolling: The use of extreme language/ insults. The aim of flaming is to cause reactions and people who flame/troll often get enjoyment of causing distress. For more information on online trolling, see our ‘Online Trolling Resource’.
3- Catfishing: Creating fake profiles on social network sites, apps and online.
4- Outing: Coaxing someone to reveal secrets and then forwarding them onto others; this usually involves screenshotting.
5- Cyberstalking: Repeated messages that include threats of harm, harassment, intimidation or engaging in other online activities that make a person afraid for their safety.
6- Online sexual harassment: Receiving unwanted images or messages of a sexual content. This could include trying to persuade someone into returning images of themselves or doing something they are not comfortable with.
7- Exclusion: This is when others intentionally leave someone out of the group such as group messages, online apps, gaming sites and other online engagement. This is also a form of indirect bullying behaviour.
Remember that, across apps, there will be a button to block and report someone who is displaying bullying behaviour. Although cyberbullying behaviour can take place on any social media, keeping up with privacy settings, avoiding anonymous sites and only having friends (not strangers) on social media can help to prevent conflict online.
For further resources on staying safe online, check out our resource centre or NSPCC website for information about social media platforms.
A lot of gaming platforms enable players to use headsets/mics in multi-player games in order to interact with other gamers. It is important to note that people may not be who they say they are and you can never know for sure who is on the other side of the controller. Therefore, it is important to monitor who young people are playing with.
Top tip: keep the game console in the living room instead of the young person’s bedroom and play multi-player with the whole family to keep up to date and aware of the games.
Take a look at our resource centre for more on cyberbullying behaviour.
The Diana Award Crisis Messenger provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK. If you are a young person in crisis, you can text DA to 85258