Cyberbullying: What You Need to Know About Reporting Online Bullying and Harassment

Cyberbullying: What You Need to Know About Reporting Online Bullying and Harassment

Did you know that bullying and harassment is the most reported form of online abuse that our service Report Harmful Content sees?

Data from Report Harmful Content demonstrated the extent of online bullying in 2023, with around 45% of cases involving online bullying and harassment, the most reported form of abuse the service saw. Further Research by Ofcom found that nearly a third of young people (aged 8-17) have experienced bullying online, with 18% experiencing bullying through social media apps and sites.

Whilst online bullying and harassment continue to be a big issue online, there is plenty of support available that can assist individuals to report types of online bullying or harassment they see online. Find out more about cyberbullying and online harassment and how our services can help adults, educational staff, and young people report these harms online.

What is Cyberbullying and Online Harassment?

Cyberbullying involves using digital platforms to harm, intimidate, or embarrass someone. This can include the use of hurtful language that targets an individual or group of people; trolling, spreading rumours, and excluding people from online communities.

Online harassment encompasses a broader range of repeated and intended behaviours expected to cause distress, this can include stalking, doxing (publishing private information without consent), and persistent unwanted contact.

Understanding the difference between cyberbullying and online harassment can help to ensure that appropriate action can be taken, particularly when it comes to reporting these harms online. Alongside this, the impact of bullying and harassment can be very detrimental to the health and wellbeing of the person affected, so ensuring they can access the correct support and advice is important. You can find a list of support services to assist with both bullying and harassment on the Report Harmful Content website.

Is Cyberbullying Allowed on Social Media?

Cyberbullying is not tolerated on most social media sites and can often be reported directly to the platform that the bullying has occurred on. Anyone who needs support reporting online bullying or harassment can visit Report Harmful Content, which provides information about community guidelines and reporting routes for each platform.

Alongside this, whilst there is no specific legislation around cyberbullying in the UK, certain forms of cyberbullying could fall under harassment or hate speech, which are considered criminal and against the law. Anyone who believes they are being harassed or a victim of hate speech can contact the police on 101.

Report Bullying or Harassment to Report Harmful Content

Reporting Sexual Harassment Online

Another form of harassment that can happen on social media is sexual harassment, which Report Harmful Content defines as unwanted sexual conduct on any digital platform or social media site. Online sexual harassment can include sexualised bullying, receiving sexualised messages or images, or experiencing intimate image abuse.

Sexual harassment is not tolerated on social media sites and can be reported on the platform where it occurred. To visit the community guidelines and find out how to report sexual harassment and unwanted advances, you can visit Report Harmful Content’s advice page. Any sexual violence, which includes sexual harassment, is also against the law and can be reported to the police.

Support for Teachers

Through SWGfL’s Professionals Online Safety Helpline, schools and professionals who work with children and young people can access support for online safety concerns that are tailored to their needs. Alongside general online safety advice, the service provides information about reporting content to social media platforms and what to do if your school has had a social media account impersonated.  

Reporting Content to Social Media Platforms

 Reporting Impersonation

The Professionals Online Safety Helpline also provides guidance on responding to the online sexual harassment of staff, which is intended for school/college leaders, governors, federations, and trust leaders. The guidance provides information about preventing and responding to incidents of sexual harassment and abuse and guidance around what to do if a staff member is being sexually harassed online.

Professionals working with young people can contact the Professionals Online Safety Helpline by emailing or calling 0344 381 4772.

Online Sexual Harassment of Staff Guidance

How do I Report Harmful Content on Social Media?

Anyone who has been affected by cyberbullying, harassment, or another form of online harm can use Report Harmful Content to support them. Report Harmful Content is a national alternative dispute resolution service operated by SWGfL and delivered by the UK Safer Internet Centre, empowering anyone over the age of 13 and living in the UK to report harmful content online.

To find out how to make a report to social media platforms, or to access further advice and support, anyone over the age of 13 and living in the UK can contact Report Harmful Content. The service is open Monday to Friday, 10 am to 4 pm, and reports to the service can be made 24/7.

Additionally, Report Harmful Content provides an innovative button that can be added to any school or organisation's website, enabling users to access expert advice and support whenever they need.

Visit Report Harmful Content

Back to Magazine

Related Articles