Cyber bullying, the law and how to protect yourself and your mental health
An article by our Well-being Ambassador Giuliana Wheater and her video!
Cyber bullying is massively on the rise and very prevalent in our society now, particularly since Covid.
It is now estimated that a huge 42% of young people aged 25 and under are, or have recently been, cyber bullied.
Before I begin giving you strategies to help you protect yourself if this is happening to you or someone you love , I would first like to thank you all with every part of me for having been so patient whilst I have been “away”.
I have recently been a victim of cyber bullying and trolling myself.
The effect on my work but also my mental health has been immense .
During this time I have also been completely inundated with emails and client sessions where people are being cyber bullied.
It is rife.
It is horrific if you are neurotypical but even harder to navigate if you are autistic/ neurodivergent.
So, I feel I have been given this painful chapter to walk as a learning …
And this learning I now want to share with you so that you know what to do of this ever happens to you , and to know that this very cowardly form of bullying is not only unacceptable but carries consequences within the law .
Incredibly there is no law directly relating to cyber bullying within the UK.
However the one enormous benefit of cyber bullying is that absolutely everything, even if the perpetrator deletes it, leaves a digital footprint.
This makes evidence for the police much easier to pursue than verbal or face to face bullying .
As I explain in this week’s video, Cyber Bullying includes trolling , setting up fake profiles (cyber fraud ), stalking , harassment , deliberately sharing threatening of harmful messages/information, maliciously attacking or harassing someone, or “baiting online “ (using the internet to deliberately provoke get a rise out of others)
It also includes “mounting a full on hateful attack that wreaks havoc on your mental health “.
And these offences ARE punishable by laws.
So how can you keep yourself or your child safe?
Firstly, keep a timeline of each event including screenshot evidence.
The police only need TWO pieces of evidence to open a case.
If someone is using a fake email address or fake Facebook profile, this comes under Cyber Fraud as well as stalking and harassment, which ARE punishable within UK laws.
There are now new trolling laws in place due to the virulent rise in this offence.
There are also other laws to protect you and within which the police have a duty to act.
The Malicious Communications Act of 1988 and the Communications Act of 2003. Offences under this act carry a prison sentence of up to 6 months , a fine of up to £5000 , or both.
“It is an offence for any person to send or post a communication that is indecent or offensive for the purpose of causing distress or anxiety to another.”
The Act also includes “threats and information which is false and known to be false by the sender of this communication.”
Criminal offences have been added to the Online Safety Bill too for those who deliberately share threatening or harmful messages / information/posts . This carries up to 5 years imprisonment.
Protection from Harassment Act 1997
“It is a criminal offence for a person to pursue a code of conduct which amounts to the harassment of another with the intention of causing harm or distress on at least two occasions.”
Section 4 of this Act “provides greater punishment to those found guilty of causing another person to fear on at least two occasions.”
So please, do not feel alone.
Bullying can be incredibly frightening and isolating.
But there are laws to protect you and there are things you can do to ensure your safety and to limit the long term impact on your mental health .
So please take everyone and please know that you are never on your own.
Lots of love, Giuliana