This week marks Anti-Bullying Week 2016, and this year’s theme is power for good. Anti-Bullying week is a fantastic way of raising awareness of bullying for people of all ages.

As a Digital Agency, all of our work is online and we strive to maintain a powerful online presence. So for Anti-Bullying Week 2016, we want to put our power to good use and explore anti-bullying cyber legislation and what can be done to prevent cyberbullying.

What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is bullying that occurs online or through smartphones or tablets. The rise of social media platforms and networking sites means that now more than ever negative experiences from these online spaces are happening more and more often. 56% of teenagers have said they have witnessed bullying online, with 42% saying they didn’t feel safe online. It’s estimated that 1 in 3 children in the UK suffers from cyberbullying.

Types of Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying comes in lots of different forms, including:

  • Cyber Stalking – stalking someone’s online profile and harassing them with threatening or intimidating messages.
  • Harassment – sending someone explicit, abusive and offensive messages or posting degrading comments.
  • Stealing someone’s online identity – hacking into someone’s social profile or email account and sending threatening and/or embarrassing messages.
  • Starting arguments – posting offensive and extreme comments to purposely antagonise others and cause online fights.
  • Deceptiveness – deceiving others into sharing personal information and/or images and sharing it with other people.

What does the law say?

Within the UK, there isn’t an exact legal definition of cyberbullying. But, there are some current laws which are applicable to cyber bullying:

  • Communications Act 2003
  • Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994
  • Malicious Communications Act 1988
  • Protection from Harassment Act 1997
  • Defamation Act 2013

Throughout the UK, all UK state schools are obligated to have anti-bullying policies implemented under the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, which should include cyberbullying policies.

When it comes to European law, the European Data Protection Legislation can be used for cyberbullying. This has further been strengthened by the European Commission who formed an agreement with 17 of the world’s most popular social networks in 2014 to arm against cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying challenges

  • Although the above UK laws can put a stop to cyberbullying, it can be seen as a violation of a bully’s freedom of speech.
  • If you’ve not participated in cyberbullying but reshare something that breaks the law, you’re also committing an illegal offence.
  • Cyberbullying crimes can be hard to police when they’re committed by someone in another country.

What can you do?

With technology something that is ingrained in modern life, we tend to neglect the notion that the cyber world is something that in fact can be controlled. So if you’ve got children who use social networking sites, establishing boundaries as early as possible is key!

Some other top tips are:

– To make sure all your social media and email accounts are well protected, with strong passwords. This stops them being a target for hackers.

– If you’re concerned about your social network security, amp up the privacy controls on all your social profiles, so only your accepted contacts can see your personal posts and photos.

– Think before you post! Something that you may not find offensive may be found offensive by someone else.

– Remember that you will always have a digital footprint, so occasionally Google yourself to make sure nothing appears that could jeopardise your reputation (employers also look at your social media profiles, so be careful all your social media is appropriate when you’re applying for a job!).