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Watchful, Wary and Wise - Be Smart Online: Cyber Bullying

Learning how to behave appropriately and responsibly online, stay safe and create a positive personal profile are skills that everyone needs to develop

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'Caught in the Crowd' Lyrics

Kate Miller-Heidke was bullied at school, and she wrote this song in response to her own experiences.

Official video of song

There was a guy at my school when I was in high school
We'd ride side by side in the morning on our bicycles
Never even spoken or faced each other
But on the last hill we'd race each other
When we reached the racks we'd each go our own way
I wasn't in his classes, didn't know his name
When we finally got to speak he just stared at his feet
And mumbled a sentence that ended with 'James'

I was young and caught in the crowd
I didn't know then what I know now
I was dumb and I was proud
And I'm sorry
If I could go back do it again
I'd be someone you could call friend
Please please believe that I'm sorry

Well he was quite a big guy, kinda shy and quiet
When the kids called him weird he didn't try and deny it
Every lunchtime he'd spend walking by himself
Round the boundary of the grounds til he heard the bell
Well one day I found him, joined him on his walk
We were silent for a while until we started to talk
I told him my family were fighting in court
He said his step-dad and him always fought
We talked about music - he was into punk
He told me all the bands that I liked were junk
I said I'd never heard the songs the Sex Pistols sang
I laughed back at him and then the ball rang

I was young and caught in the crowd
I didn't know then what I know now
I was dumb and I was proud
And I'm sorry
If I could go back do it again
I'd be someone you could call friend
Please please believe that I'm sorry

It was after school in the afternoon
The corridors were crowded as we came out of the rooms
Three guys I knew pushed him into the cement
Threw away his bag and said he had no friends
He yelled that he did and he looked around
Tried getting up but they pushed him on down
That's when he saw me, called out my name
And I turned my back, and just walked away

Susan MacLean

" People have this belief that it's acceptable to do things online that they would not normally do in the real world."

(Susan McLean, former Victorian police officer and cyber-safety campaigner)

What is Cyberbullying?


Cyber bullying

is an insidious and psychologically cruel form of covert bullying that includes the use of digital communication devices, such as the internet or mobile phones, to support deliberate, hostile and repeated behaviour by an individual or group that is intended to harm others. It generally involves sending or posting abusive text messages, emails, degrading digital photographs and mobile phone videos.                         (Cyber Friendly Student Summit)

Cyberbullying and the Law

In 2010 and 2011 several stories appeared in the media of teenagers being arrested and charged with cyberbullying or a similar crime.

  • January 2011 -  A 17 year old male and 16 year old female arearrested in Lafayette Louisiana charged with cyber stalking and bullying a classmate online. (
  • January 2011  - A 15 year old and 16 year old female from Florida are arrested after they create a fake Facebook profile in the name of a classmate with the intent of embarrassing and terrorizing the victim. (ABC News)
  • January 2011  - Six girls in Nevada are arrested for coordinating Attack a Teacher Day at two different middle schools via Facebook. (ABC New)
  • December 2010  - Two female middle school students in Illinois are charged with harassment after they set up a Facebook page to slander and harass a classmate they will soon face a Peer Jury. (Chicago Sun Times)
  • November 2010  - Six teenage boys are arrested and charged with bullying a fellow student in Texas. (
  • September 2010  - Three teenage girls have been charged with cyberbullying that resulted in the suicide of Phoebe Prince (

Information from Bully4U archive

Image from

Cyber bullying Suicide Death

Beat Bullying

Beatbullying is a leading UK anti-bullying organisation which is tackling the cyberbullying epidemic head-on.

"Research conducted by Beatbullying with over 2000 young people aged between 11 and 18 has uncovered a growing epidemic, with over one in three revealing that they have been the victim of cyberbullying.  The three most common digital environments for cyberbullying were found to be mobile text messages, prank mobile phone calls and content posted on social networking sites. Beatbullying’s research also reveals a worrying gender divide, with teenage girls up to four times more likely to be the victims of bullying over digital channels compared to teenage boys." 


"Beatbullying also reveals the websites where cyberbullying is most prevalent. Almost one in three (30%) of 11 to 16-year-olds who have been cyberbullied had experienced the problem on Bebo, earning the social networking site the nickname ‘Bullybo’ among many young people. A further 44.6% have witnessed bullying on the site.

MSN instant messenger is also exposed, as 57.9% of cyberbullied young people said they have been bullied using the service. Further offenders are social networking sites Facebook (11.3%) and MySpace (10.3%), plus web builder Piczo (16.3%) where, in some cases, fake accounts and hate sites have been created. You Tube (15.5%) also suffered as footage of bullying incidents can be proliferated on the video sharing site.

Beatbullying’s research of 11-18 year-olds also found that:

  • 61.2% have witnessed some form of  cyberbullying
  • Seven out of ten (69.3%) knew the person who was cyberbullying them
  • Almost a third (31.3%) of cyberbullying incidents began offline
  • Two-thirds (61%) have seen or heard of fake profiles, hate sites or happy slapping material
  • One in five (20.8%) have seen hate sites or groups set up to bully someone online
  • Nearly one quarter (24.5%) have been sent a video clip or image of someone being bullied
  • Girls are most likely to be cyberbullied, as well as cyberbully; 23.8% of girls have received an upsetting or offensive phone call compared to 12.2% of boys"


Beatbullying have now set up CyberMentors, a site where trained teenagers can mentor their peers who have been bullied. "At launch there are 700 fully trained CyberMentors, made up of 600 secondary school children and a further 100 in further education working to keep cyberspace safe. There are plans to grow that number into the thousands by 2012."

Image from

Become a Courageous Bystander

Become a courageous bystander! 

    • Don’t engage in or support mean material, gossip, or rumors posted online, or talk about it at school.
    • Support a classmate being targeted online by posting positive messages!
    • If you know the person being targeted, invite him/her to spend time with you.
    • Tell an adult at home and at school.
    • Print the evidence to share with an adult.
    • Confront the student who is cyber bullying if it is safe, and make it clear that you think their behavior is wrong.
    • Remember that we are not invisible online, and anything we post can be traced back to us.  Monitor your online reputation. (Kowalski, Limber & Agatston, 2007)


Do Something Positive

Types of Cyberbullying


  1. Cyberstalking is when an individual sends messages repeatedly through the Internet or by using a mobile phone. These messages are threatening in nature, and instill fear that the stalking might move offline and become physical.
  2. Flaming involves correspondence using electronic communication methods such as chat rooms, email and instant messenger. Flaming refers to arguments that are supplemented with images to drive a point and harsh language.
  3. Exclusion occurs when an individual is singled out and excluded from a group. The group in turn then taunts the excluded person using the Internet or a mobile phone.
  4. Outing occurs when an individual shares private information using online communication methods or a mobile phone. That person is then "outed" when his private information is shared publicly either online or off.
  5. Masquerading is a sophisticated form of cyberbullying in which an individual creates a false identity and harasses another while pretending to be someone they are not. Masquerading also includes attempts to steal log-in information, then using the information in a harassing manner such as sharing it publicly.


Text Bullying

Netsafe recommends the following regarding text bullying:

  • don’t reply
  • More than 4 texts in 7 days should be reported
  • Collect evidence – don’t delete them
  • Report them to the service provider
  • Any threat of violence MUST be reported to the POLICE

What to do if you are cyber bullied

  1. Don't reply to abusive message that may only encourage the bully
  2. Keep a record of events, messages or pictures
  3. Think before you send images of someone via email or mobile phone; they can spread far beyond your circle of friends
  4. If you receive a rude image or text about someone, do not forward it
  5. You have a right not to be harassedand bullied online;make sure you tell someone
  6. Treat your password like your toothbrush:don't let anyone else use it!

(Mark Woolley)