Cyberbullying - bullying in the 21st Century.

Hi everyone, and thanks for stopping by our collaborative blog!

It's Christie, from My Mum, the Teacher and I'm so happy to be joining this amazing team of educators/bloggers and bring you my first post.

While I am a Primary trained teacher, for the past 3 years I've been working in High Schools as well. Working in a High School brings a set of all new benefits AND challenges, and one of the main reoccurring challenges that I've encountered has been that of cyberbullying.

After hearing about a particularly nasty cyberbullying incident involving some Year 7's, I thought I better look into this topic more and have a better understanding of the laws surrounding this growing issue, because no doubt this will not be the last time I am to deal with such an issue.

So here are some stats on Cyberbullying in Australia:

*Stats based on an online survery conducted by the Department of Communications IRIS Research, 2014.

What is Cyberbullying?

"Cyberbullying is the use of technology to bully an individual or group with the intent to cause harm. The intended harm may be social, psychological and, in extreme cases, physical. Cyberbullying can cause fear, withdrawal, shame, guilt, loneliness and depression". (Australian Government). 

While conflicts between children are a natural part of growing up and can teach children resilience as well as social and emotional regulation skills, cyberbullying is a more complex issue that could involve:
  • Harassment - the posting of or sharing nasty, angry and/or rude messages;
  • Cyber-stalking - a form of repeated harassment where by with the aim to intimidate and create fear through threatening messages;
  • Outing - the sending and sharing or personal information about others that has been shared privately which may include sensitive personal information or images (often of a sexual nature);
  • Flaming - an extremely heated argument often containing offensive language. 
(2014. Kids HelpLine).

Cyberbullying includes name calling, abusive comments, spreading rumours, threats of physical harm, being ignored or excluded, having opinions slammed, online impersonation and being sent rude or upsetting images. - See more at:
Cyberbullying is complex and may include:[3][4]
  • posting and sharing nasty, angry or rude messages, known as harassment.
  • cyber stalking, which is repeated harassment usually containing threatening messages with the aim to intimidate and create fear.
  • sending personal information about others that has been shared privately which may include sensitive personal information or images, often of a sexual nature. This is known as outing.
  • an extremely heated online argument using rude and offensive language. This is called flaming.
- See more at:

When and how does it occur?

Australia has been ranked as one of the top countries for incidences of cyberbullying. Research suggests that cyberbullying can include name calling, abusive comments, spreading rumors, threats of physical harm, being ignored or excluded, having opinions slammed, the sending of rude or upsetting messages and online impersonation, and can begin as early as in Primary school aged children. One study stated that 10-14 year old's are the most common age group reporting cyberbullying (50.6%), with 15-18 year old's following (44.2%) (2014. Kids Helpline).

Traditional 'bullying' is a deliberate psychological, emotional and/or physical harassment of a person or group by an individual or group. Unlike traditional bullying, which is usually face-to-face, cyberbullying can be an anonymous or 'faceless' act through SMS, Social Media, Instant Messenger (IM) and blogs/websites. This means that the offenders often feel a greater sense of power and protection due to the anonymity they have, while the victim can have an extremely high level of fear because the bullying can follow them almost anywhere, including into their house, meaning they feel they have little to no escape.

In Primary School cyberbullying usually focuses on physical appearance. When children head to High School this changes to a focus on relationships and the way people act.

So what are some of the reasons for children to bully others?
  • For power and strength over others;
  • As a means to gain popularity;
  • Detracting from their own feelings and insecruities by focusing on and highlighting the insecurities of others;
  • Using it as a way of bolstering their own happiness by revealing in others unhappiness;
  • They, themselves, are victims of bullying.

Impacts of Cyberbullying.

With the rise in ownership of mobile devices the occurence of cyberbullying is rising, and due to its covert nature can have severe implications for those who are the victims, including but not limited to:
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness or depression
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Embarrassment 
  • Decreased academic achievement levels due to lack of concentration and fear
  • Truancy to avoid the bullies
  • Decreased mental and sometimes physical health
  • Negative behaviours and attitudes towards family and friends
  • Self-harm and in some cases, suicidal thoughts and behaviours.

The Law.

The Enhancing Online Safety for Children Act 2015 aims to provide a new safety net for children who have been a victim of cyberbullying or are not satisfied with complaints made to social media services regarding online bullying incidences. The Commissioner from the Office of the Children's eSafety was established as part of the Act and has a wide range of functions and aims to enhance online safety for children.

To find out more regarding The Act, the Telecommunications Act 1997, Criminal Law for each state and territory and other law information, head to the Australian Government's site. 

What can we as parents and teachers do?

Whether you're a parent or teacher (or both) there are some things you can do to help. First, there are signs to help your recognise cyberbullying that you should be aware of:
  • A reduction in socialising with friends and/or family;
  • Avoidance of school;
  • Sudden aversion to using their mobile devices and technology;
  • Little to no and complete withdrawal from extra curricula activities such as sport, music etc.;
  • Agitation when a message comes through;
  • Minor to severe self-harming behaviours; and
  • Changes in mood and behaviour that are abnormal.
If you suspect that your child or a student is a victim or offender, then you will need to:
  • Take the time to listen and understand the situation and incidences;
  • Explain the power dynamic of bullying;
  • Develop some options and solutions;
  • Increase other positive experiences; and
  • Enlist the help of others.
More information about this can be found on the Kids HelpLine website. 


The following websites have some fabulous information and resources for teacher, parents and children!
The Australian Government has set up a great list of activities for use in the classroom for both Primary and Secondary classrooms here. Be sure to have a look through these valuable resources!

Australian Government Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner. Cyberbullying. [Online]. Available URL: 

Kids HelpLine. (2014). Cyberbullying. [Online]. Available URL:


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