Cyber Bullying

Cyber bullying is defined as the use of electronic communication or technologies to bully, harass or intimidate, including via text message, phone call, email, social networking sites (such as Facebook or Twitter), online gaming sites and platforms, and online chat rooms.

Cyber bullying tactics can include sending hurtful messages, making mean comments online, sending death threats, creating ‘hate’ websites, or physically attacking someone and filming it on a mobile phone.

Cyber bullying differs from ‘traditional’ forms of bullying because of the potentially 24/7 nature of attacks – a cyber bully has access to their victim at potentially any time of the day or night, thanks to mobile phones, social networking sites and ‘always-on’ technology. Cyber bullying can also have a much wider audience, with hurtful comments or degrading images posted online reaching potentially hundreds or thousands of people, demeaning the victim even further.

Schools have a duty to respond to cyber bullying when it affects a child’s ability to learn, their attendance at school, or impacts upon other aspects of school life. Section 89(5) of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 gave head teachers the power to regulate pupils’ conduct when they are not on school premises and are not under the lawful control or charge of a member of school staff – this includes and relates to cyber bullying, meaning schools can reprimand a pupil for cyber bullying, even if the incident did not occur on the school grounds.

When an incident is reported, a member of staff should log and respond to it in accordance with the school or organisation’s anti-bullying policy. Incidents of cyber bullying can also be reported to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), and in some cases should be reported to the police, when a law has been contravened, such as the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.