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What Is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is a serious and growing problem that can no longer go unnoticed. Cyberbullying involves systematic, deliberate, repeated aggressive behaviours, inflicted by an individual or group over time.

Cyberbullying is an aggressive act using electronic communication carried out by an individual or group of individuals directed at another person, or group of people, who have difficulty defending themselves.

It is carried out through the medium of electronic communication devices including email and social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube, instant messaging, texting, online chat rooms, Twitter and Google+.

As long as people remain connected to the internet, they are accessible and as such are potential targets of electronic bullying. While cyberbullying and traditional bullying have similarities, there is one distinction: cyber space is the platform and e-technology the medium providing opportunities for bullying to occur.

The scale of cyberbullying cannot be underestimated. With the click of a button, observers can disseminate information beyond the boundaries of time and space.

It is motivated by perceived anonymity, easy access to e-communication and contact without physical interaction. The intention is to embarrass, hurt, humiliate, offend, get revenge, have fun, and/or exert power over others.

In cyber space, an individual is a victim of bullying when they are repeatedly exposed, over time, to hurtful aggressive behaviour instigated by other individuals or groups.


(WILLARD, 2007; CHISHOLM, 2014)

Flaming Electronic messages with fuming and discourteous language (Willard, 2007, pp. 1-2).
Harassment Continually sending offensive and rude messages online (Willard, 2007, pp. 1-2).
Denigration Spreading rumors online to harm reputations or relationships (Willard, 2007, pp. 1-2).
Impersonation Masquerading as someone else and breaking into someone’s account; impersonating a person and posting inflammatory material as that person to damage their status or relationships (Willard, 2007, pp. 1-2).
Outing/Trickery Convincing someone into declaring confidences, and circulating online (Willard, 2007, pp. 1-2).
Exclusion Maliciously excluding someone online (Willard, 2007, pp. 1-2).
Cyberstalking Habitual online harassment and defamation (Willard, 2007, pp. 1-2).
Ratting Remote controlling computer/webcam without person’s knowledge or consent and controlling the operations of their computer (Chisholm, 2014, p.79).
Catfishing Deceiving people into emotional relationships by devising fictitious online identities (Chisholm, 2014, p.79).
Sexting Distributing humiliating and/or sexually suggestive pictures online (Chisholm, 2014, p.79).
Shock Trolling Spiteful and aggressive messages intended to aggravate or degrade someone in order to incite a reaction (Chisholm, 2014, p.79).


Professor Sally Kift

What are some possible consequences of cyberbullying?

  • Powerlessness
  • Insecurity
  • Anxiety
  • Social withdrawal
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Fear of being the next victim
  • Loneliness
  • Emotional distress
  • Pressure to participate
  • Declining academic performance
  • Health issues
  • Techo-stress, an inability to disconnect from social media
  • FOMO (fear of missing out)
  • Addiction

Responding to Cyberbullying

  • Block the bullies and be assertive, asking them to STOP
  • Ignore and resist the temptation to retaliate
  • Unfriend
  • Maintain a record of bullying messages/replies, as evidence and report to the appropriate authorities
  • Seek support and talk openly
  • Be an Upstander not a bystander- Step in and intervene, standing up for the victim, reporting and informing the bully that their harassing behaviour is unacceptable
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