What does the law say?
Texts, phone calls, instant messages, blogs, chat, social media, web pages - any form of bullying that uses online communication or mobile phones is cyber bullying. Legally, cyber bullying is the same thing as bullying.
Bullying is when someone behaves in a way towards another person or group of people to upset or hurt them or damage their property, reputation or acceptance by others. It's usually repeated behaviour and can be carried out over a number of days but sometimes it can go on for weeks, months or years.
Bullying and cyber bullying are never OK. In the most severe cases, bullying can now be treated as a crime in WA. All WA public schools and many workplaces also have policies dealing with bullying and cyber bullying incidents.
Cyber bullying is illegal and is just as serious as other types of bullying. Cyber bullying can sometimes be even more hurtful and damaging than face-to-face bullying because electronic communication is fast and can spread easily. Cyber bullying can include:
- posting mean messages or pictures or excluding someone online
- making threats to someone online or using email, texting or instant messaging
- someone tricking another person about his or her identity online
- online stalking (stalking is when a person repeatedly does something to cause physical or mental harm to someone else, including causing someone to self-harm or fear for their safety or someone else's safety)
- spreading personal information, photos or secrets online or using email, SMS or instant messaging
- sending offensive messages to someone online or using email, texting or instant messaging.
What can I do if I'm being bullied?
Tell someone. No-one deserves to be bullied and you don't have to deal with it alone. Tell a teacher, a trusted adult or a family member.
Block the bully. If someone is bullying you online don't respond to their bad behaviour, block them.
Make a list of all of the things that have happened and when they happened, who was involved and who may have seen it.
If you're stressed or hurt as a result of bullying get help, see a doctor or your school nurse and tell them what has happened. Getting help from an adult you trust can help to stop bullying and cyber bullying. If the bullying keeps on going, if you've been physically hurt, or if you feel like you might get hurt, you or a friend, teacher or trusted family member can call the police.
What can I do if I know someone else is being bullied?
Tell someone. If you see or know about someone else being bullied, don't stand by and let it happen. Think about how you'd feel in the same situation and talk to an adult you trust about what's happening.
Support your friends, but remember even people you don't know very well deserve to be treated with respect - no one deserves to be bullied. Let someone who's being bullied know that they are not alone. Bullying and cyber bullying can make a person feel worthless but one little gesture from you could make a big difference to their day.
Where can I get help?
- For information about your rights as a young person see Rights for young people.
- Call the Legal Aid WA Infoline on 1300 650 579 for free general information and referral over the phone that can help you with your legal problems.
- The Kids Helpline provides a free, private and confidential telephone and online counselling service for young people aged between 5 and 25. They can be contacted on 1800 551 800 or via their website.
- Headspace offers free or low cost services for young people aged 12 to 25 and can help you access the right health service for your needs. Headspace has offices in Fremantle, Albany, Broome, Osborne Park, Bunbury and Midland. Have a look at their website for further information about how they can help you.
- Have a look at the:
- The Office of the eSafety Commissioner website for free information about staying safe online, including tips on how to deal with cyber bullying, trolling and blocking unwanted contact online
- Take a Stand website that gives you information and helpful ideas about dealing with bullying
- ThinkUKnow website that gives you information about how to have fun online, how to stay in control and how to report things when they go wrong.
Last reviewed: 22/11/2013