For Safer Internet Day, The Diana Award staff who deliver our Anti-Bullying Ambassador Programme have put together their top tips on how to stay safe online and how to respond to cyberbullying – from reporting it to supporting the person being targeted.

11 February 2020

Reports suggest that cyberbullying has increased by 88% in the UK since 2011. That’s a huge increase and this is only what has been reported. As a young person, you have the power to change this and create an online community that looks out for one another and stands up to bullying behaviour in all its forms. With that in mind, take a look at the ‘Three Cs to change online behaviour:

Content – Take a moment to consider what you’re about to publish online. Is it going to offend or insult someone else? Would you want your whole family to read it? Would you say this in public?

Conduct – Check in with your emotions before you pick up your device. Are you using social media to Help, Heal, Hurt, Harm? 

Caring – Know when to step away and put the phone down if you see a mean comment or meme. Don’t allow your emotions to take control of your fingers and remember to consider your own health and the feelings of others.

“Being an upstander is about speaking out for what is right, whether this is online or off.”

But what happens if you’ve taken all of these steps? We still can’t control the actions or decisions of others. So, if you do come across bullying online, what should you do? 

1. Don’t be afraid to challenge this harmful behaviour. Being an upstander is about speaking out for what is right, whether this is online or offline. Try calmly explaining to whoever isdisplaying this behaviour why it’s wrong and the effect it may have on others. If this is likely to be confrontational or make the situation worse, report it anonymously to the social media platform directly.

“But does reporting actually do anything?” 

Social media companies can still do more to tackle online hate and cyberbullying but if we don’t send them reports, how will they get better at dealing with them? At least this means the post will be taken down. Remember: no one will know who reported it.

Here’s what an expert from Facebook had to say when we asked for their top tips on reporting –

We want to make sure that everyone, no matter their age, has a good experience online. That’s why we have developed tools to empower individuals to protect themselves against unwanted content or contact, including our reporting options. Bullying and harassment are highly personal by nature, which means that in many instances we need someone to report this behaviour to us before we can identify or remove it. Other times, we’re able to detect this behaviour automatically using artificial intelligence technology without a user reporting it. We are determined to improve our ability to automatically detect bullying and harassment, which is why we urge people to report this behaviour to us when they see it. Our technology is improving all the time, even in areas that are more challenging for technology to detect, such as hate speech. In our most recent transparency report, the amount of hate speech we took down proactively climbed to 80% – up from 68% in the previous report.”

“Make sure you go beyond “Are you OK?”, as we all know how many times we respond to that with “I’m fine.”

2. Make sure you check in with whoever is being targeted and offer them your emotional support. It’s difficult to gauge how someone may be affected online, as you can’t read their body language or see their facial expressions/reaction. Make sure you go beyond “Are you OK?”, as we all know how many times we respond to that with “I’m fine…” Tell them you don’t agree with what’s happened or what’s been said and that you’re there whenever they want to talk. A good rule is to put yourself in their position and think what you would want someone to do or say for youHow would someone make you feel better?

3. If you’re concerned for your own or for someone else’s wellbeing or mental health and think you/they might be at risk, it’s important you tell a responsible adult. This can be your parent, one of your teachers or even a professional. You can also text The Diana Award’s Crisis Messenger anytime if you live in the UK by texting ‘DA’ to 85258 for free advice from trained professionals on issues surrounding bullying behaviour, mental health and moreYou can also contact Childline for free on 0800 1111. 

Finally, the internet and social media can bring us closer together but we also need to challenge bullying behaviour and promote positivity online. It’s important to make good choices and to look out for one another. Remember that you have the power to change the world for the better. You got this!


© 2020 The Diana Award. The Diana Award is a registered charity (1117288 / SC041916) and a company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales number 5739137.