For educators and schools

Schools, teachers and other educators play a vital role in promoting the social and emotional development and wellbeing of Australian children and young people. 

This includes protecting students from cyberbullying, while also giving them the skills to deal with online abuse and the impacts. It’s also important to have policies in place to deal with incidents and build the online safety skills of your whole school community.

On this page:

About cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is when someone uses the internet to send, post or share content that is harmful to the physical or mental health of a child or young person under 18. It can happen on a social media site, game, app, or any other online or electronic service or platform. It can include posts, comments, texts, messages, chats, livestreams, memes, images, videos and emails.

Cyberbullying content can be reported to the online or electronic service or platform that was used to send, post or share it. This is usually the fastest way to get it removed.

If the service or platform does not help within 48 hours, and the cyberbullying is serious enough, eSafety can direct them to remove the harmful content. For eSafety to investigate, the child or young person must live in Australia. Also, the type of cyberbullying meet a legal ‘threshold’.

 

This means it must be likely to harm their physical or mental health because it is seriously threatening, seriously intimidating, seriously harassing or seriously humiliating. 

Note about older students: Cyberbullying of someone who has recently turned 18 can be reporting to eSafety, if they do it soon after finding out the harmful content was posted or shared. People who are 18 or older may be able to report an adult cyber abuse complaint. 

What you can do

Encourage open discussion

Talking openly about online safety risks, and ways to prevent and deal with them, gives students the language and confidence to seek help when they need it. This strategy is even more effective if you extend the discussion to the whole school community, including parents and carers.

Teach online safety lessons

You can use eSafety classroom resources to ensure you are providing the most current advice, including the best pathways for reporting cyberbullying. You can also adopt our Best Practice Framework for Online Safety Education, make sure your own skills are up to date with our Professional Learning modules or find a Trusted eSafety Provider to run a program in your school.   

Call on students to be upstanders

Encourage students to speak up against cyberbullying, if it’s safe for them to do so, and check that the person targeted is OK. They should also tell a trusted adult if they know someone else is experiencing issues online or if they are going through a hard time themselves.  

Provide connection

Ensure students have staff members they feel connected to and activities they can feel a part of, particularly those at high risk of bullying. It is very important that they feel valued as a member of the school community.

Report cyberbullying

Support any student experiencing cyberbullying to report harmful content to the online or electronic service or platform used to send, post or share it. Reporting links for most sites, games and apps can be found in The eSafety Guide. If it’s really serious and the service or platform does not remove the harmful content within 48 hours, help the student to report it to eSafety.

Refer students to support services

Children who have experienced cyberbullying can feel a range of emotions from fear to anxiety, anger and a sense of hopelessness. They may suffer trauma and ongoing depression. The impacts can be temporary, but in some cases they can last a long time. Ensure all your students know how to contact support services such as Kids Helpline and Headspace. You should also refer any student with social or mental health difficulties to school counselling.  

Resources you can use

Cyberbullying can happen in many different ways and some experiences can have more impact than others. In certain circumstances, serious cyberbullying can be reported to eSafety and we can have harmful online content removed. But even when we can’t investigate, we still help Australians address cyberbullying in many ways – this includes providing resources that educators can use to keep their communities safer online.

Classroom resources

Build cyberbullying and online safety into the curriculum. eSafety offers classroom resources including lesson plans, worksheets and videos.

Professional learning summary sheets

Check key points about cyberbullying and how to deal with it in our cyberbullying factsheet and scenarios.

Toolkits for safer environments

Include strategies for preventing and dealing with cyberbullying in your online safety policies. Use eSafety’s Toolkit for Schools and Toolkit for Universities to find out how to engage and educate your community and respond to online safety issues. 

Best Practice Framework

eSafety’s Best Practice Framework for Online Safety Education establishes a consistent national approach that supports education systems across Australia to deliver high quality programs, with clearly defined elements and effective practices.

Training for educators

eSafety offers a range of free online safety training programs for teachers, school chaplains, mental health and social workers, and university support staff.

Childcare services

The Early Years program provides training and resources for childcare services and early childhood educators.

Case studies

These are some examples of the videos you will find in our Classroom Resources.

#GameOn short film

#GameOn is an eSafety video following the online experiences of a group of lower secondary students who find themselves in situations that catch them off-guard and teach them the consequences of making poor decisions online.

Tagged – when it all gets out of hand

What happens when a group of high-school friends post an online rumour about a rival? This award-winning video is part of a suite of resources that explore the impacts of cyberbullying and sharing intimate images. Subtitled in multiple languages.
Audio

This video is a dramatic scenario used to provoke thought about showing respect to other people online. It features a teenage male and female, played by actors. The teenage male walks into his room, sits at his desk and looks at his computer.

He opens a social media website and reads a post

Sarah has posted a photo of a girl with the caption “Indy Mindy thought I was actually taking a photo!

Other users post nasty comments “Would not go there if you paid me”, and “Loser!”

The teenage male looks angry and starts typing a comment “Someone get this bitch a mirror!” but pauses before submitting the post.

The camera zooms into the photo, changing the situation from a photo to the real life scene as the camera pans around the main girl. Various comments appear as text in the air around her.

The camera shows the young man standing in the real life scenario, looking concerned about all of the nasty comments made by others.

The camera pans around the teenage male who appears back in his home sitting at his computer with his comment still on the screen unposted

He shakes his head, highlights the text from his comment and deletes it.The teenage male sits back and looks relieved. Text appears “I respect differences”

Logo shows the Australian coat of arms above the words Australian Government, and the eSafety Commissioner with the web address esafety.gov.au

The power to understand and respect differences

Respect works both ways and if you want respect you have to give it as well.
Visual

This video is a dramatic scenario used to provoke thought about displaying personal resilience while online. It features a teenage female locking herself in a bathroom to avoid four female peers. The females are played by actors.

Stacey runs down an alley, pursued by a group of girls.

Stacey runs into a community centre bathroom and locks the door of her stall just as a youth worker exits the second stall

Veronica, the group leader, pushes the bathroom door open but stops abruptly when she sees the youth worker at the sink. She turns and exits.

Stacey’s phone pings with a message notification.

The girls stand outside on their phones, texting Stacey.

Stacey’s phone pings repeatedly, with the texts popping up in conversation bubbles around her, reading “feelin @ home in the toilet w/all the other scum??” and “ur the reason deodorant exists” amongst them

As the notifications stream in rapidly, Stacey gets increasingly agitated. She begins to cry and puts her hands over her ears to block the text sounds.

A mid shot of Veronica, relentlessly texting.Stacey brings her hands down and stares at the wall, her attention grabbed by a graffiti quote that says “THEY DON’T WRITE YOUR STORY...YOU DO.”

Stacey stares at the quote, its meaning sinking in.

Veronica and her group enter the community centre, heading for the bathroom.

Stacey opens the bathroom door and faces Veronica.

Veronica stops in disbelief.Stacey walks past them, head held high and exits the community centre with the group following her.

The group heckle Stacey who walks on, unaffected

The music builds as Stacey puts on her headphones, drowning out the insults. She walks on, a small smile on her face

Logo shows the Australian coat of arms above the words Australian Government, and the eSafety Commissioner with the web address esafety.gov.au

The power to bounce back

Resilience is emotional strength.

Are you the target of online abuse?

If you are experiencing online abuse from students or others in your school community, find out more about adult cyber abuse and how to report it. 

We also run a professional learning program about digital rights and responsibilities that includes supportive information for educators who are themselves dealing with online abuse. 

Report cyberbullying to eSafety

If the cyberbullying is very serious, and the service or platform has not helped within 48 hours, a child or young person under 18 (or an adult they have authorised to help them) can report the harmful content to eSafety using our online form.

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