An Information Sheet for Teachers and Other Professionals Who Work With
Benefits of Technology
information may make the Internet, or mobile phones, or email accounts
all seem rather dangerous - but technology is morally neutral and can
be a channel for comfort as well as threats. The phone line that carries
a threatening text message may also carry information and advice to
an anxious parent or a worried child. Whilst technology can be used
to bully, the Internet also can be a sanctuary for the victims of bullying
by masking their "differences" and allowing them to be part
of communities beyond their local one.
digital age has seen the development of new ways in which to bully, slander
and abuse. We are now faced with bullying by email, over the phone and
by text message; with the use of digital cameras and camera phones to
intrude on the privacy of individuals; with so-called 'happy slapping'
attacks - the filming and sharing of physical attacks on individuals by
groups; the posting of offensive websites; the impersonating of individuals
through hijacking email accounts; abusive and threatening behaviour in
chat rooms, on discussion boards and through instant messaging. We have
also seen reports of school reunion sites being used to slander ex-pupils
and teachers alike. A Scottish secondary school had to take its chat room
offline due to aggressive bullying activity (Edinburgh Evening News 29.3.06).
Recently a phenomenon called "bluejacking" (the sending of anonymous
text messages over short distances using "Bluetooth" wireless
technology) has been reported. All these examples of cyber-bullying may
be taking advantage of cutting edge technology, but the motives of those
who are doing this and the excuses they make for their behaviour are age-old.
- Technology allows
the user to bully anonymously or from an unknown location, 24 hours
a day, 7 days a week.
- No place, not
even a bedroom, provides sanctuary from the intrusion of a threatening
text message or an abusive e-mail.
leaves no physical scars so it is, perhaps, less evident to a parent
or teacher, but it is highly intrusive and the hurt it causes can
be very severe.
- Young people
are particularly adept at adapting to new technology, an area that
can often seem a closed world to adults. For example, the numerous
acronyms used by young people in chat rooms and in text messages (POS
- Parents Over Shoulder, TUL - Tell You Later) make it difficult for
adults to recognise potential threats.
you manage a website, email service or chat room that is used by young
people, then you should make sure that it is used safely:
- Find out about
any relevant guidelines that are published by your local authority
or governing body.
- Be prepared
to close down any website or chat room if it is used to send bullying
or threatening messages.
- Agree a code
of conduct. If the service is one, such as a chat room, that is used
by a relatively small number of young people, any discussion could
involve all users. If the service involves large numbers of young
people, a representative group should be assembled and tasked with
agreeing a code. All users should be required to agree to abide by
- Make sure that
young people who use your messaging, email, mobile or web service
know that any messages they send or post may be read by an adult.
- Make sure that
young people for whom you are responsible know that sending abusive
or threatening messages is against the law.
Code of Conduct
Here are some points that could be included
in the code of conduct that you discuss and agree with young people.
Use these points to help you start the discussion, but aim to end up
with a small number (up to five or so) of short statements that are
suitable for the age of the users.
you feel you are being bullied by email, text or online, do talk to
someone you trust.
send any bullying or threatening messages. Anything you write and
send could be read by an adult.
bullying should be reported to the police - for example threats of
a physical or sexual nature.
and save any bullying emails, text messages or images.
you can, make a note of the time and date bullying messages or images
were sent, and note any details about the sender.
not log into a chatroom with a different user ID or nickname? That
way the bully won't know who you are. You could change your mobile
phone number and only give it out to close friends.
the service provider (mobile phone company, your internet provider)
to tell them about the bullying. They may be able to track the bully
blocking software - you can block instant messages from certain people
or use mail filters to block emails from specific email addresses.
reply to bullying or threatening text messages or emails- this could
make matters worse. It also lets the bullying people know that they
have found a 'live' phone number or email address. They may get bored
quite quickly if you ignore them.
give out your personal details online - if you're in a chatroom, watch
what you say about where you live, the school you go to, your email
address etc. All these things can help someone who wants to harm you
build up a picture about you.
forward abusive texts or emails or images to anyone. You could be
breaking the law just by forwarding them. If they are about you, keep
them as evidence. If they are about someone else, delete them and
don't reply to the sender.
ever give out passwords to your mobile or email account.
that sending abusive or threatening messages is against the law.
Danger - a website all about the potential dangers of interactive
online services like chat, instant messaging, email and mobiles.
Text Bully - resources on this website include a Top 10 Tips poster
for young people and a school resource pack 'Putting U in the Picture'.
International - plenty of advice and teachers' resources. Look
for the 'Prank or Pain' link through their 'Know it All' project link.
Watch Foundation - support website with information on filtering,
protection, and an area to report illegal content.
- part of the Childnet stable of websites, dealing with Internet safety
programmes for schools, young people and parents.
- contains links to useful online documents such as a guide to cyber-bullying
and an educator's guide.
Safe in a Wired World: a parent's guide to Internet safety" by
Rob Nickel. A recently published book about most of the technologies
used on the Internet and instructions on how to keep children safe
while in cyberspace. Available from Amazon.
Parents' Guide to Safer Surfing.
Please note that
we are not responsible for the content or availability of the websites
you feel you are being bullied through your mobile phone, either with
phone calls or text messages, you will be able to seek help from your
phone network provider using the phone numbers below:
Orange - 07973
100 150, or 150 from an Orange phone
Vodafone - 08700 700 11, or 191 from a Vodafone phone
O2 - 08705 678 678, or 4445 from an O2 phone
Virgin Mobile - 0845 6000 070, or 789 from a Virgin Mobile phone
3 Network - 08707 330 333, or 333 from your 3 Network phone
T-Mobile - 0845 412 5000
If you are experiencing
bullying phone calls through your landline, the numbers of the providers
below may be useful:
Nuisance Call Advisor - freephone 0800 661 441 (View this
pdf leaflet for more information)
NTL - 0845 454 0000
Telewest - 0845 142 0220
If you are experiencing
cyber-bullying through your email account, you may want to contact your
Internet service provider for help. Use this
weblink to find a comprehensive list of providers. Click on the
'info' button after each name to access phone numbers:
Report abuse on
Yahoo's Messenger service by following this weblink.
Report abuse on
MySpace by following this weblink.
Bebo users - read
some Bebo safety
tips here. To report abuse, you can use the 'Report Abuse' link
on the offender's profile.
Any comments or questions about this information sheet should be directed
This information sheet may be photocopied or reproduced for use within
schools and other educational establishments providing the Anti-Bullying
Network is credited.