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Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is when someone uses the internet to be mean to a child or young person so they feel bad or upset.

eSafety helps prevent and deal with cyberbullying and its impacts. We do this by providing information, education and resources, and by investigating and helping to fix the most serious cases of cyberbullying.

On this page:

Audio

[Student speaks]

It started at school. 

He hit me in the playground, and that was bad enough, but someone filmed it, and soon everyone was watching him hit me.

They called me names: weak, punching pag. They laughed at me.

I was afraid, ashamed. And the more the views went up, the worse I felt.

Mum and I reported the video to the platform but we heard nothing.

And the views, they kept going up.

School didn’t feel like a safe place anymore.

And when I heard people laugh on the street, I thought maybe they’d seen the video. 

Maybe they were laughing at me, the weak, punching bag.

The views, they kept going up.

That’s when mum contacted the eSafety Commissioner.

[The eSafety Commissioner speaks]

At eSafety, we worked with the family and the social media platform to get the harmful content taken down so that the child could get his life back on track.

We know that one in five young Australians has been cyberbullied.

Girls are bullied more than boys.

And most of the time when they come to us, they just want and need that harmful content taken down.

And we know that the more quickly we do that, the better it is for the child’s wellbeing and emotional distress.

So if you, your child or someone you know is experiencing cyberbullying, eSafety can help.

Please come to us at eSafety.gov.au/cyberbullying to report.

WATCH NOW: How eSafety can help you deal with cyberbullying

Do you feel unsafe right now?

If you are in Australia and in immediate danger or at risk of harm call Triple Zero (000).
Contact your local police on 131 444 if there are threats to your safety or threats to your friends or family members.
 

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is when someone uses the internet to be mean to a child or young person so they feel bad or upset. 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.

These are some examples of ways the internet can be used to make someone feel bad or upset:

  • Sending hurtful messages about them.
  • Sharing embarrassing photos or videos of them.
  • Spreading nasty online gossip about them.
  • Leaving them out online. 
  • Creating fake accounts in their name.
  • Tricking them into believing you are someone else. 
     

Sadly, cyberbullying happens a lot in Australia and around the world.

44% of Australian young people report having a negative online experience in the last 6 months, this includes 15% who received threats or abuse online.

Source: The digital lives of Aussie teens, eSafety Commissioner (2021).
 

What you can do

If someone is being really mean online, first of all it’s a good idea to:

  • tell a trusted adult and ask them to help you – you could show them this page about cyberbullying
  • change the settings on your device or online account so you don’t see so many messages, posts or comments from the person who was mean – find out how in The eSafety Guide

If you need cyberbullying material removed:

If the site, game or app does not help you, and the cyberbullying is serious enough, eSafety can ask them to remove the harmful content.

 

For eSafety to investigate, you must live in Australia. Also, the type of cyberbullying must be against Australia’s online safety laws.

This means the content sent to you, or posted or shared about you, must be likely to harm your physical or mental health because it is seriously:

  • threatening (for example, when someone says they are going to harm you, or tells others to harm you) or
  • intimidating (for example, when you stop doing something because someone makes you feel scared or bad about it) or
  • harassing (for example, when someone keeps sending messages to you or keeps sharing posts or comments about you even though you don’t want them to) or
  • humiliating (for example, when someone teases or embarrasses you very badly).

If someone is cyberbullying you in one of these ways you can report it to eSafety, or you can ask a trusted adult to do it for you. The adult can be a parent or guardian, or someone like a carer, teacher or police officer.

If you are a parent or guardian you can report serious cyberbullying to eSafety yourself – if you know your child has been targeted by harmful content, and the site, game or app has not helped.

Report cyberbullying to eSafety

If the content is seriously harmful, and the service or platform does not help, a child or young person under 18 (or an adult they have authorised to help them) can report it to eSafety using our online form.

Report now

Download the cyberbullying quick guide

You can download and print our quick guide about cyberbullying, which has key information from this website. 

Last updated: 23/05/2024