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Newsome Junior School

Castle Avenue, Newsome, Huddersfield, HD4 6JN

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What is Online bullying?


The definition of online bullying

'. . . an aggressive, intentional act carried out by a group or individual, using electronic forms of contact, repeatedly and over time against a victim who can not easily defend him or herself.' - taken from the Anti-Bullying Alliance

According to Ofsted, four out of ten children have experienced some form of online bullying and the proposed New Ofsted Inspection Framework (2010) states that:

'Bullying at school can be a significant problem, especially in the 10–14 age group. With the growth in electronic communications, it can be intrusive and persistent but barely visible to adults.'

How is online bullying different from traditional bullying?

As with traditional bullying, online bullying can take a range of different forms, from name calling through to threats and intimidation. Some of the main differences in relation to online bullying are in relation to the following areas:

Location - Unlike bullying, online bullying can take place in personal and private spaces allowing the victim little or no release. For many victims, this means that this can be constant and they can be targetted whatever environment they are in.

Impact - The potential audience can be limitless and reached rapidly. Furthermore, it may stay online forever. This may lead to psychological effects, with the victim not knowing who has viewed the offending information.

Perception of anonymity - Young people often feel bolder and untouchable, therefore the bullying can be much more severe. 

Profile of target/bully – anyone can be an online bully or become a victim as traditional profiles do not apply.

Unintentional bystander effect - Many young people are drawn in to bullying online often without realising that what may seem like a joke can have a damaging and lasting impact on the victim.

Evidence - The one positive of online bullying is that evidence can be gathered, saved and used to tackle the bully/bullies.

So what should we do...?

Young people are not only victims of online bullying, they can also help tackle online bullying.

Online bullying incidences, such as the taking of an embarrassing photograph or video of the victim and sending this on to others, can sometimes be seen as innocent fun by bystanders. Once young people are aware of the impact that online bullying can have on the victim they can proactively look out for instances of online bullying going on among their peers, and ensure these are reported.

Many schools are now seeing the value of actively having pupils working as peer mentors to support the rest of the pupil community. Peer mentors are a very powerful way of enabling young people to support each other. Victims also often find it easier to discuss issues with someone their own age rather than turning to an adult for help.