An anonymous profile spreads mean messages about me. They have not yet found the bully.


Did you know this?

As many as 25 per cent of young people have witnessed an online bullying situation in the past year. Girls are affected more often than boys. 6 in 10 victims are also bullied offline. 1 in 2 victims knows the bully. 14 per cent of the victims of cyberbullying are afraid to share what they are experiencing. The larger the audience involved, the more painful the experience. For young people, photos and videos are often more offensive than mean statements. Cyberbullying is a criminal offence.

How cyberbullying manifests itself

Cyberbullying is typical of young adolescents. Whether offline or online, the bully’s intention is always to harm the victim. The bullying takes place repeatedly via digital media such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, SMS, WhatsApp or email. Power plays a major role in this.

Cyberbullying can manifest itself in various ways. The perpetrator may insult, threaten, cheat, laugh at or hinder the victim in social contacts. The behaviour may only be visible to the victim, but a larger audience may also be involved.

Examples of cyberbullying are:

  • sending someone an offensive text message
  • insulting someone via a post on Instagram
  • threatening someone to beat them up on TikTok
  • sending unwanted explicit messages or photos via Snapchat
  • excluding or ignoring someone online or pretending to be someone else online and ridiculing that person
  • creating mean web pages or social media profiles about peers

Bullies often go to extremes online, precisely because they are not confronted with the consequences of their behaviour on the victim. Online bullying feels safer to them, as they can hide behind a screen.

Cyberbullying affects a lot of people and can spread quickly. The bullying often continues even when the bullied person is in a safe domestic environment. Victims of cyberbullying often feel that they cannot escape the bullying.

Although in some cases cyberbullying is easier to notice than bullying in person, it is not always dealt with as urgently as it should be because the victim has no direct physical contact with the bully.

The consequences of cyberbullying

The consequences of cyberbullying are different for every victim. While some recover fairly quickly, for others cyberbullying can have a major impact.

The following may occur:

  • stress and anxiety symptoms, mood swings and an increased risk of depression
  • feeling lonely and isolated, and withdrawing from friends and family
  • feeling unhappy or insecure
  • poor academic and work performance
  • an increased risk of suicidal thoughts

Cyberbullying can also leave its mark in the long term. Adults who were (cyber)bullied during their childhood or teenage years are at greater risk of emotional health problems later in life.

Victims also often adapt their behaviour. They try to avoid or hide anything that may have led to bullying in the past: their body, sexual orientation, way of speaking, ....

What can you do about it?

Are you being cyberbullied yourself? Then it is important to protect yourself and to talk about your problems with someone close to you.

You can do the following:

  • Ignore bullying messages. Bullies are looking for a reaction. Do not respond. If you respond to the bullying, the perpetrator may feel that the bullying is having an effect. This may increase the bullying or even make it worse.
  • Collect evidence by taking screenshots, so the perpetrator cannot deny their behaviour.
  • Block the bully on online platforms. On Twitter and Facebook you can even make your page completely invisible to the bully. On WhatsApp, you can activate a feature so that the bully cannot see that you are online and cannot send you any messages either.
  • Report the incident or inappropriate messages to the administrators of the platform where the bullying took place. On Facebook and Instagram, you can easily report photos and messages and have them deleted. The administrators may be able to deactivate or restrict the cyber bully’s account to prevent future incidents.
  • Take a step back from social media and devices. In addition to blocking the person, you can also disconnect from social media sites or keep your phone in another room to help you distance yourself from the incident.
  • Find support and talk about it with someone you trust such as a teacher, parent or friend. As well as people close to you, there are also specific organisations or services you can turn to for help or a listening ear. Some can even be contacted anonymously.

Talking about it was very difficult, but it's good to feel that I'm not alone in this anymore.


Talk about it and seek help

Are you worried about the bullying? Then talk to someone you are close with, you feel comfortable with and trust. Talking can offer great relief and help you figure things out. You can also take the first step towards seeking help together.

If you struggle to talk to someone in your close surroundings, try to approach a person who is familiar with similar experiences, such as a GP or a student advisor at your college or university.

If you prefer to share your story anonymously, contact Awel (102 or via, Tele-Onthaal (106 or via and the Suicide Hotline (1813) for questions about suicidal thoughts.

The Child Focus ClickSafe helpline (116000 or is available for acute problems related to cyberbullying. Via the helpline, you can receive advice on how to combat bullying and be referred to specific organisations that can help you find a solution.

In serious situations, you can file a complaint against the bully with the local police. It is important to have enough evidence, such as screenshots, if you take this step.

What if you witness cyberbullying?

When bullying happens in an online forum, there are often more witnesses. Although you would think that more people would respond to cyberbullying, the opposite often happens. This is because people assume that someone else will intervene.

As a witness to cyberbullying, you can therefore play an important role in stopping the bullying. Here's what you can do:

  • Speak up for the victim. Speak to the perpetrator and condemn the bullying.
  • Offer emotional support. A pat on the back, the question 'how are you?', an invitation to do something fun, ...
  • Encourage the victim to seek help from someone they trust.
  • Tell someone in authority, such as a teacher, supervisor, parent or coach you trust about what you have observed online or through social media.
  • Report what you see to the security team of the site where the bullying is taking place.

Worried about a friend?

Have you noticed that a friend is a victim of cyberbullying and you are worried about this? Talk about it and share your concerns. Talk about it and share your concerns without judging them.

Keen to learn, read and hear more about this topic?