Safeguarding Network

December 2023 - 5 minute read

Loved 3 times


The impact of cyberbullying is the same as any other form of bullying, affecting self-esteem and self-confidence, and in severe cases leading to mental health issues and the potential consequences of self-harm and suicidal thoughts. 

With the increasing use of technology, coupled with the growing numbers of social media and gaming platforms, the issue of cyberbullying has also increased. For some children and young people, this has reportedly led to tragic consequences. The ability to hide behind technology means that some people are regularly being trolled by others. 

Need more?

Thank you for visiting our resources pages. These are free to everyone as is our fortnightly safeguarding bulletin – general safeguarding information is too important to restrict. Become a member to access lots more, including training materials for you to deliver in-house on each topic in Keeping Children Safe in Education.

Sign up for FREE fortnightly bulletin.

What about training?

We can deliver training for your setting on this and other subjects via online platforms, or face-to-face in certain areas. Just get in touch to discuss your requirements.

Cyberbullying can take many forms: 

  • threats and intimidation; 
  • harassment and stalking; 
  • the forwarding of images (including nude/semi-nude images) and information that has been shared privately by the victim; 
  • isolation or rejection (including by peer groups); 
  • defamation of character; 
  • revealing sensitive or personal information about someone without their consent (known as doxing); 
  • using tagging and/or memes to humiliate; 
  • impersonating someone to belittle them; 
  • creating or adding to an abusive poll about someone. 

Parents, carers, teachers and practitioners must ensure we help children and young people stay safe when online, accepting that for children and young people today there is no differentiation between online and offline worlds. 

Definition of cyberbullying

“Online bullying, or cyberbullying, is when someone uses the internet to target and deliberately upset someone.” 

Childnet, 2022 

How cyberbullying happens 

Children and young people talked to Childnet about a range of ways that cyberbullying could be carried out, including: 

  • posting comments, messages, photos or screenshots that are mean, threatening, untrue, personal, secret or embarrassing; 
  • anonymous messages or abuse (on social networks or online gaming); 
  • filming you or taking photos of you without your consent; 
  • ‘indirect’ messages when you don’t directly name someone, but everyone knows who you are talking about; 
  • fake accounts or profiles; 
  • excluding people from online conversations or talking behind your back. 

Participants also mentioned cyberbullying could be targeted on the grounds of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation and race. 

It’s important that as professionals, we listen to what we are being told and are prepared to talk about the impact of technology on children and young people, seeking advice if we don’t understand the issues being discussed. 

What you need to know 

Cyberbullying is an increasingly common form of bullying behaviour (in the 2020 Ditch the Label report, over a quarter of children reported being cyberbullied). Children may know who is bullying them online – it may be an extension of offline bullying – or they may be targeted by someone using a fake or anonymous account.  

It can happen at any time or anywhere – a child can be bullied when they are alone in their bedroom – so it can feel like there is no escape. 

I go to school and get bullied. Go home and online and still get bullied. I can’t ever escape it.

It’s easy to be anonymous online and this may increase the likelihood of engaging in bullying behaviour. 

Cyberbullying can have a devastating effect on children and young people. It’s important that settings take measures to prevent and tackle all forms of bullying among children and young people. 

If online content is offensive or inappropriate, and the person or people responsible are known, you need to ensure they understand why the material is unacceptable or offensive and request they remove it. 

It’s also important that settings make it clear that the bullying of staff, whether by pupils, parents or colleagues, is unacceptable. The Department for Education says one in five teachers (21%) have reported having derogatory comments posted about them on social media sites from both parents and children. 

Additional vulnerabilities

Although cyberbullying can affect anyone at any time, some children and young people may be more vulnerable, for example: 

Think about what measures you have in place in your setting to address potential discrimination and the targeting of these children. How are British values promoted in the curriculum in a way that creates a cohesive culture in your setting? How do you raise awareness of the problems and reduce the impact of cyberbullying? Do you have routes that children and young people use to report a concern, and are these well publicised and understood by them? 

Spot the signs

The signs of bullying and cyberbullying overlap. They can include: 

  • aggression; 
  • isolation; 
  • difficulty concentrating; 
  • difficulty developing relationships; 
  • reduction in attendance and/or attainment; 
  • eating disorders; 
  • low self-esteem, depression or anxiety; 
  • self-harm. 

What to do

  • Have bullying champions in the staff and student group. 
  • Address any instances of bullying immediately. 
  • Every setting should have clear and understood policies in place that include the acceptable use of technologies by pupils and staff that address cyberbullying. 
  • Develop a community approach to bullying, involving pupils, parents/carers and the setting. 
  • Raise any concerns regarding cyberbullying with the bullying champion and designated safeguarding lead. 
  • Ensure staff training keeps up to date with the latest technologies and the potential for bullying. 

Take action – and keep taking action until you know children and young people are safe. 

DSL Training Materials

  • Bullying and Hate Crime Presentation

  • Bullying and Hate Crime Presenter Notes

  • Handout for staff

  • Cyberbullying – Quiz

  • Cyberbullying – Quiz (Answer Sheet)

  • Cyberbullying scenario – Primary School

  • Cyberbullying scenario (primary school) – DSL Information sheet

  • Cyberbullying scenario – Secondary School

  • Cyberbullying scenario (secondary school) – DSL Information sheet

  • Cyberbullying scenario - 16+ Settings

  • Cyberbullying scenario (16+ settings) – DSL Information sheet

  • Cyberbullying scenario – SEND focus

  • Cyberbullying scenario (SEND focus) – DSL Information sheet

  • Cyberbullying scenario – Care Settings

  • Cyberbullying scenario (care settings) – DSL Information sheet


  • Teaching about online bullying

  • Stop Speak Support

  • National Bullying Helpline

  • Cyberbullying: advice for headteachers and school staff

  • Cyberbullying teaching resources

  • Anti-social media

  • A safe space for young people worried about sexual behaviour

  • Addressing School Avoidance

  • Anti-racism and mental health in schools

Save time and improve your safeguarding approach…

Bite-size training materials to share with your staff every month.

Support to explore and develop your safeguarding culture.

A huge array of resources and professional experience at your fingertips.

Get in touch now for a personal tour of the site and details of membership benefits.

Memberships start at just £99+VAT a term.

We look forward to working with you.