Information and communication technologies

Online Bullying

What is bullying?

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Bullying is a big concern for many parents and is defined as persistent unwelcome behaviour and can include anything from teasing, deliberately ostracizing someone to assaults and abuse. Bill Belsey, a nationally recognized educator from Alberta, Canada, gives this definition:

Cyber-bullying involves the use of information and communication technologies such as e-mail, cell phone and pager text messages, instant messaging (IM), defamatory personal Web sites, and defamatory online personal polling Web sites, to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others.” (Belsey, 2004)

Bullies will use many ways to get at their victims and the Internet gives them yet another method. This form of bullying is sometimes called cyber bullying and describes the misuse of email systems or the Internet for harassing people, such as by sending unpleasant or aggressive messages. Although this is a recent phenomenon and may not yet be taken seriously by everyone, bullying of all kinds is wrong and should be challenged. The good news is that there are some direct practical steps that you can take to help your child if they are a victim.

Bullying by Experts on bullying believe that many bullies tend to lack good communication skills and therefore the impersonal nature of email makes an ideal tool for them to victimize others. Unfortunately it is not immediately possible to check where an email has come from – you have to trust that the named writer is genuine. But it is not always wise to make this assumption. The best advice is if a name is not familiar, it may be safer not to open the email if the sender is a known bully or if they have sent unpleasant or annoying messages before, then ignore it and delete it straight away if the bullying happens through a personal email account, report it to the sender’s email account provider – you can find this address after the ‘ @ ‘ sign. If it is not obvious who the sender is and there is continual bullying using email, then there are tools to trace senders. To find out more about this email tracking, go to one of the search engines, (e.g. Google, Yahoo, etc.) and type in “email tracking software” – this software can then be downloaded. Once you know the identity of the bully, get in touch with your Internet Service Provider (ISP) who can then block the sender from your email. If the email bullying is occurring in school, then this should be dealt with through the school’s anti-bullying policy. (Li, Q. 2006).

Bullying on the Internet

You may be aware of recent episodes where people have been victimized via websites – one incident involved pupils setting up an offensive website about their teachers. Of course, the victim may not always be aware that these sites exist. However, if your child realizes that they have been bullied in this way, then the first course of action is to contact your ISP. They can find out who runs the site and can request that it is removed. If the person responsible is at school with your child, then let the head teacher know. Any false accusations or anything on the website which you feel is breaking the law should be reported to the police.

Text messages

Although this does not involve the Internet, it is worth mentioning that bullying can also be carried out using text messaging on mobile phones. (Be Safe Online, 2002).

Online bullies and abuse

Ensuring your child is not subjected to online bullying. Playground bullying is a serious problem for many children, and online bullying or abuse can be just as unbearable.

Bullying can ruin any child’s life. Online bullying or abuse can be just as unbearable as playground taunting, but harder to spot. Two thirds of bullying is verbal and those responsible can lurk in immoderate chat rooms or can send their abuse through texting or instant messaging. Bullying can be subtle but most of the time, if your child is being bullied, they know who is doing it to them. You can put a stop to this type of bullying only if you get involved. Encourage your children to talk to you about anything that’s upsetting them. Get them to show you any messages they’ve received (if they’ve saved them) or to tell you immediately if anything new happens. Make sure they stick to moderated chat and, above all, let them know that you take it seriously. Tell them that bullying usually stops once they tell other people about it.

Teachers complain of online bullying by pupils teacher’s union has today called on the government to clamp down on websites where pupils can post video clips and comments about their teachers, in a bid to outlaw cyber bullying. The Association of Teachers and Lecturers wants education secretary Alan Johnson to discuss the issue with websites such as YouTube and RateMyTeachers in order to “protect the professional integrity” of teachers. Andy Brown, a teacher from Northern Ireland and member of the ATL executive committee, said in the short-term the union wanted Mr. Johnson to speak with site owners about how to stop pupils posting adverse comments or videos about their teachers online. If that has little impact on reducing the incidence of cyber bullying then the government should consider bringing in legislation to force the websites to better police postings on their sites, the union agreed today. Mr. Brown, a secondary school drama teacher, said he had 28 postings about his ability as a teacher on the RateMyTeachers site – two of which were criticisms. He said: “Every time I think about that website I don’t remember the 26 positive comments. I think about the two negative ones. “In my opinion this is bullying – if somebody says something about somebody and it’s meant to cause them distress and the person feels they can’t do anything about it then its bullying.”

He said: “If the person doesn’t sign their name to the comment there is no recourse – it’s bullying.” The union, at its annual conference in Bournemouth, also called on the websites to introduce a complaints procedure so teachers can “register their concerns” about a comment or a video clip which involves them. School anti-bullying policies should also be adapted to spell out how they will support teachers who find themselves victims of cyber bullying, the union decided. When asked about online bullying of teachers, the Department for Education and Skills said in a statement that new statutory disciplinary measures introduced on April, which include confiscating mobile phones from pupils in class, should help teachers fight pupil cyber bullies.

A spokesman said: “Teachers now have stronger legal powers to deal with cyber pests as part of our continued fight against bullying. They can now confiscate mobile phones which are being used in a malicious or disruptive way. We encourage them to make full use of this power if they suspect pupils are using technology against them.”

Pupils can find help on dealing with violence and name calling, homophobia, racism, hi-tech bullying like happy slapping, text bullying by phone and abusive websites, self-harm, falling out with friends, bullying on the school bus and walk to school, body language, how to help someone being bullied and moving to a new school. There is also advice for pupils who are bullies.

Parents can find help on taking a complaint through the education system, from the classroom teacher, head teacher or principal, governors, LEA (Local Education Authority) and DfES (Department for Education and Skills). There are sections for parents dealing with hi-tech bullying, including abusive internet website postings, racism, bullying in independent or private schools, bullying out of school, moving a child to a new school, access to pupil records, teacher bullying and legal action. A well-used part of the website is the section containing letters for parents to copy out to start a complaint to a school.

The schools’ section has been expanded recently and includes advice on dealing with bullying victims, bullies and parents and ideas for school projects. There is a large section about bullying in sport. The sections include information and advice for school ancillary workers like teaching assistants, dinner ladies and school nurses. Help is given by email through the contact section of the website and leaflets and posters are also available to schools, police forces, and health trusts and youth organizations. (Wikipedia, 2008).

Online Bullying Rising in Youths

Nov. 27, 2007 — Internet harassment is becoming more common, affecting nearly one in 10 online adolescents, new research shows.

Back in 2000, a national survey showed that 6% of online youths aged 10-17 reported being harassed online. That percentage jumped to 9% in 2005, based on a telephone survey of 1,500 adolescents who use the Internet.

Another new study estimates that 11% of online middle school students are bullied online; nearly half of those students don’t know their Internet bully’s real name, since screen names can hide a person’s identity.

Online bullying and online harassment typically happens through chat rooms, text messages, and emails, and it generally happens when teens aren’t in school, the studies show.

The findings appear in a special edition of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Internet Harassment: What to Do?

Focus on safe use of new technology, not banning the technology.

Today’s kids and teens are major media users, but they need grown-up guidance about safe media use, note the CDC’s Corinne David-Ferdon, PhD, and Marci Feldman Hertz, MS. They predict that “with the development of new cell phones that are small enough to fit into young children’s hands and that are designed to be visually attractive to a younger audience, more and younger children will become competent and frequent users of this technology.”

That means that research on preventing online harassment “must be rapid and flexible enough to keep up with the evolving nature of technology,” write David-Ferdon and Hertz.

How to solve the problem

How to solve the problem if you are being bullied, tell a friend, tell a teacher and tell your parents. It won’t stop unless you do. It can be hard to do this so if you don’t feel you can do it in person it might be easier to write a note to your parents explaining how you feel, or perhaps confide in someone outside the immediate family, like a grandparent, aunt, uncle or cousin and ask them to help you tell your parents what’s going on.

Your form tutor needs to know what is going on so try to find a time to tell him/her when it won’t be noticeable. You could stay behind on the pretext of needing help with some work. If you don’t feel you can do that, then go to the medical room and speak to the school nurse.

The best idea is if a teacher can catch the bullies red-handed. That way, you won’t get into bother from anyone for telling tales. It will be clear to everyone what has been going on. Don’t be tempted to hit back because you could get hurt or get into trouble. Hitting someone is an assault. Try to stay in safe areas of the school at break and lunchtime where there are plenty of other people. Bullies don’t like witnesses. If you are hurt at school, tell a teacher immediately and ask for it to be written down. Make sure you tell your parents.

Bullying is upsetting Bullying is very upsetting and if you feel you can’t cope, tell your parents and go to see your doctor. Many doctors are very sympathetic about the effects of bullying and yours may be able to write a note for the school explaining the effect that bullying is having on your health. You could think about judo or martial arts classes so that you are confident you can look after yourself if necessary.

If people are making nasty remarks about you then it may be because they are jealous. Perhaps you’re better looking than they are or work harder or perhaps the teachers like you better. One way of dealing with remarks is simply to say…yeah, whatever,…. each time so that you show them that it isn’t having the effect of upsetting you in the way they think. (Liz Carnell and Bullying UK, 2008)


Remember the Golden Rules.

Do not give out personal information too freely. Always encourage your child to tell you of anything that upsets them. Keep a record of all bullying incidences either by saving or printing emails. If an email or text message is particularly disturbing or breaks the law, contact the police. Check on your school’s anti-bullying policy and whether it addresses bullying using computers and mobile phones. If not, encourage them to look at this issue, if necessary with support from your PTA and School Board.


Be Safe Bullying. (2002). Online Bullying. Retrieved on March 23, 2008 at

Belsey, Bill. (2004). Retrieved March 23, 2008, from Web site:

Liz Carnell and Bullying UK. (2008). Formally Bullying Online. Advice for Pupils. Retrieved on March 23, 2008 at

Li, Q. (2006). Cyberbullying in Schools: A Research of Gender Differences. School Psychology

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