What is online bullying?

Online bullying (also known as cyberbullying) uses technology to transfer, send, post, publish or disseminate content with the intention to harm a person or a group. It involves aggressive behaviour that is often repeated over time.

What to do if you’re being bullied online

If you’re experiencing online bullying and you need help you can contact us for assistance.

Find out how we can help, or call 0508 NETSAFE.
If you’re concerned about the immediate safety of you or someone else, call 111.

Helpful tips

  1. Don’t reply: Especially to messages from phone numbers or people you don’t know.
  2. Don’t attack the person back: Avoid giving the bully the satisfaction of a reaction by retaliating – especially if it’s in a public forum online.
  3. Have a conversation: If it’s safe to do so, try talking to the person privately about what they’ve said or done. Stay calm and let them how their actions have affected you.
  4. Cut off the person bullying you: Block their phone number, or block them on social media. You can also report their behaviour to the social media site.
  5. Talk to someone: Talking to friends, Whānau or someone else you trust can help put things into perspective, make you feel better and help you cope with the situation.
  6. Save messages and images: Take screen shots of the bullying in case you need evidence later. Find out how here.

What to do if a friend is being bullied online

  1. Offer your support: Remind them that no matter what, they don’t deserve to be treated this way.
  2. Don’t reply: Tell them not to reply or respond to any messages or make contact with the person bullying them.
  3. Get them to stay calm: Don’t let your friend react in an aggressive way – it may just make things worse.
  4. Save evidence: Make sure your friend saves the messages and take screenshots of website and chat abuse. Find out how here.
  5. Report it: If the online bullying is happening on a social media site, you can report it as abuse.
  6. Get help: Get your friend to contact Netsafe for assistance. We can tell them if there’s anything else they can do to stop the abuse and stay safe. We can also look into the situation, and work with them and the person harassing them to get them to stop. Netsafe may also contact online content hosts like Facebook and Twitter to ask them to block or remove harmful digital communications.

If you’re concerned about the immediate safety of your friend, call 111.

Online bullying information for parents

Each case of online bullying is different and each child will respond differently to bullying. There’s no fool-proof way to tell if your child is being bullied online, but if you think they might be try asking them about it in a non-confrontational way.

Tips if your child is being bullied online

  1. Don’t take away the technology: Taking away your child’s laptop or mobile phone can alienate them from their peers and their support network.
  2. Stay calm: Your child needs to be able to talk to you and know that you’ll be level headed, thoughtful and helpful in your response.
  3. Evaluate the situation: It’s important to know exactly what’s going on before you can work out what to do next. Is it just a few off hand remarks, or is it something more serious?
  4. Understand how your child is being affected: Every child is different, and behaviour that deeply affects one child may be water off a duck’s back to another. If your child is upset about a situation, let them know that you understand and it’s OK to be upset.
  5. Teach your child how to use the features available on most social networking sites: For example, blocking and unfriending people. You can also show them how to update privacy settings on social media.
  6. Work through a plan together: If you need help about what you can do next read more about how Netsafe can help, or call 0508 NETSAFE.

What to do if you see online bullying

You can report the problem anonymously to the website where it’s taking place, and you can reach out to support the person being targeted. You’ll help that person feel less isolated which can help with the impacts of bullying.

Who should I contact for help?

If you or someone you know needs help, contact Netsafe toll free on 0508 NETSAFE or contact us online.
Our call centre is open from 8am – 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am – 5am on weekends.

If you are concerned about the immediate safety of you or someone else, call 111.

More information

Netsafe’s online bullying, abuse and harassment service
Netsafe and the Harmful Digital Communications Act
• Bullying Free NZ provides information and guidelines for organisations, schools, parents/whanau