Cyber bullying

Cyber bullying is any form of bullying that is done online or over the phone. It is against the law to use a phone or internet service in a way that is menacing, harassing or offensive.

Cyber bullying often involves identity theft, where a person pretends to be someone else, without their permission, to get a benefit or cause harm.

The information on this page will help you understand what cyber bullying involves, and what you can do about it. Find out:

  • what are some examples of cyber bullying
  • what you can do if you are the victim of cyber bullying, and
  • what you should do if you have been the bully.

What is cyber 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. Cyber bullying is any form of bullying that uses online communication or mobile phones, such as texts, phone calls, instant messages, blogs, chat, social media or web pages.

Some examples of cyber bullying include:

  • sending a nasty text message or email
  • posting a nasty message or embarrassing photo of someone on social media
  • stalking or harassing someone online
  • verbally abusing someone in a phone call or voicemail
  • making threats to harm or kill someone using a phone or internet service.

Cyber bullying can also involve identity theft, such as:

  • using someone else's name or photo without permission to create a fake online profile
  • accessing someone else's email or online accounts without permission and pretending to be the other person, or
  • accessing or changing someone's password-protected information without their permission.

Cyber bullying that involves sharing or threatening to share intimate images of someone else is particularly serious and specific offences apply.

What can I do if I'm being cyber bullied?

If you are being cyber bullied, you don't have to put up with it or 'just grin and bear it'. Here are some useful things you can do.

  • Don't respond
    Sending nasty messages or threats back to the bully could get you in trouble too.

  • Talk to someone and ask for help
    Talk to a friend, family member or adult you trust (if you are under 18). Tell them what is happening so they can help you sort it out. Also consider speaking to a counsellor as well as getting legal advice.

  • Keep evidence
    Record what is happening by taking a screenshot, printing or saving the content. If it is verbal bullying, do your best to write down what was said.

  • Block the bully
    Block their emails, phone number and social media accounts, and change your privacy settings.

  • Report it
    The Office of the eSafety Commissioner online complaints system can help to:

    • report cyber bullying and image-based abuse, and
    • remove intimate images and other offensive or illegal content from the internet.

    The police can also investigate and bring criminal charges.

What can I do if I have been the bully?

You should remove any offensive comments, photos or videos that you have posted online, and ask anyone else involved to do the same. The Office of the eSafety Commissioner has information about what you can do to remove images online. Get help if you need it.

If the police become involved, you should get legal advice. You should speak to a lawyer before answering any questions or participating in a recorded interview with the police.

 

More information

 

Reviewed: 17 January 2019

Disclaimer

The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.