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My friend is being cyberbullied

Putting a stop to cyberbullying is everyone’s responsibility. If you know someone who is being cyberbullied there are things you can do to help.

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What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is using technology to intentionally hurt the feelings of another person in an ongoing way. Cyberbullying can happen anywhere, anytime by people you know and sometimes people you don’t know. 

Cyberbullying can include:

  • Sending, sharing or posting nasty, hurtful or abusive messages or emails
  • Humiliating others by posting/sharing embarrassing videos or images
  • Tagging someone inappropriately in an image
  • Spreading rumours or lies online
  • Trolling - saying means things to stir people up
  • Imitating others online
  • Making threats towards another person
  • Excluding others online
  • Online peer pressure
  • Repeated harassment and threatening messages (cyberstalking)

"Cyberbullying is NOT ok and it can be equally as bad, or even worse, than bullying someone face to face" – Sky, Kids Helpline

Report Cyberbullying

You and your friends are not alone when it comes to dealing with cyberbullying! You can make a complaint to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner.

How to tell if your friend is being cyberbullied

Cyberbullying can be hurtful and makes a big impact on the way someone feels and acts. Here are some signs to watch out for: 

You may notice your friend feeling:

  • Anxious, sad, scared or stressed
  • Physically sick or having lots of headaches
  • Tired because they aren't getting much sleep
  • Ashamed, embarrassed or feeling bad about themselves
  • They seem upset, especially after receiving a text, email or being online
  • They might talk about wanting to run away or not wanting to be 'here' anymore
  • They could be having thoughts of hurting themselves and/or suicide


You might see changes in the way they act:

  • They avoid going to school or even change schools
  • Your friend leaves class more often because they feel upset or unable to cope
  • They're having trouble staying focused in class or when doing school work
  • Your friend might stop doing their hobbies or the things they used to enjoy e.g. dance class, sports, music, online games
  • They don't want to be around people e.g. they talk less, they sit by themselves


You notice they act differently online:

  • They might check their phone, iPad, or computer more often than usual or they suddenly stop going online or using their phone
  • Your friend seems more secretive about what they do/what happens online
  • They delete their profile or online accounts
  • Their parents or another adult have banned them from using the internet or their phone


How to help stop cyberbullying

Each of us can help keep the internet a safe place so nobody gets hurt, abused, or attacked online. Here’s what you can do:

Don't forward or share the post, text or image

Report it online or show an adult who can help you report it

Don't take part in it by sending mean messages back

Say something kind or positive to the person being cyberbullied

If it's safe, take a stand against it and ask the people doing the bullying to stop

Let the people doing the bullying know that what they're doing is not ok

Talk to the person being cyberbullied and let them know you care

Ask the person being bullied if they are ok and if they need  help

Suggest the person being bullied report it, block, or delete the people doing the bullying

Leave the group or conversation

Helping a friend cope with cyberbullying

Here’s what you can do to support a friend who is being cyberbullied:

  • Let them know that you care about them and you don't agree with what's happening
  • Remind them they're brave and it's ok to talk about it
  • Help them collect and save the evidence e.g. screenshots, photos, texts, emails
  • Suggest that they block and report the cyberbully
  • Help them check their privacy settings so their information is protected
  • Check out the eSafety website for useful tips on dealing with cyberbullying
  • Together, talk to an adult - family member, teacher, coach - about the cyberbullying so they are also aware of what's happening
  • Remind your friend that it's ok to get professional help from people like a school counsellor, psychologist, or Kids Helpline
  • Even if your friend makes you promise not to tell anyone, it's really important that an adult knows what's going on - especially if they're in danger of getting hurt
  • If you feel that your friend is unsafe and may hurt themselves call Kids Helpline, tell a school counsellor, or a trusted adult
  • Remember that it is not your responsibility to 'fix' the problem, but you can be there to support your friend


"We thought it would be funny, because we were all like, joking… but I think we took it too far this time."

"When we see somebody being bullied online that makes us ‘bystanders’ and we have a really important role in stopping the bullying behaviour" – April, Kids Helpline Counsellor

There is always support available

It can be really tough to see someone you care about being hurt by cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying is not something you or your friend should have to put up with. If you’re unsure of what to do or need some extra support - that’s ok! Contact us and we can help you figure it out. Give us a call, start a WebChat or send us an email today. 

You could also visit the eSafety website to find out more about cyberbullying and what you can do.

This content was last reviewed 08/03/2018

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