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Bullying on mobile phones

Receiving a rude text message or a threatening call on your mobile phone from a bully isn't just upsetting. It can be a criminal offence. If you are being bullied on your mobile phone, don't reply and let someone know as soon as possible.

How can you get bullied on a mobile phone?

Cyberbullying isn't just something that takes place on the internet. You can also be cyberbullied if you get abusive calls and text messages on your mobile phone.

These calls, text messages and voicemails can be really upsetting, and it is often hard to understand how the sender knows your mobile phone number.

If you think you are being bullied on your mobile phone, the most important thing is not to respond or get into an argument. Bullies are usually cowards, so showing a reaction is just giving them what they're after.

At the same time, that doesn’t mean you should ignore it and do nothing.

Types of mobile bullying

There are many ways that you can get bullied through your mobile phone.

Scary phone calls

Victims of mobile phone bullying can receive abusive phone calls from someone who uses threats of violence to scare them.

Some bullies choose to stay silent on the other end of the phone, which is confusing and worrying for the person who answers the call.

Abusive text messages

People who bully sometimes send text messages that try to scare, upset or hurt someone on purpose.

Getting a message like this can be frightening, especially if it is from someone you don't know.

Offensive picture messages

You may also be worried about photos and images that you have been sent over your mobile phone.

These could be pictures of you that have been taken without your knowledge. They could also be pictures that show you in situations that you would rather keep private.

Embarrassing or violent videos

Most mobile phones come with a video camera now, which means being filmed without knowing it can happen more often.

If you're being bullied over your mobile phone, you might:

  • get videos of yourself that you didn't know were being filmed
  • see embarrassing mobile phone videos of yourself posted on video sharing websites like YouTube

You may also have heard of 'happy slapping', where victims are physically assaulted and a video of the attack is then posted on the internet.

How to stop mobile phone bullying

Even though it's a hassle, the best way to stop mobile phone bullying is to get another SIM card or change your mobile number.

Once you have a new phone number, only give it out to members of your family and close friends.

If you get a bullying text, save it in your inbox. You should also make a note of the time you received the message, and the sender's details. Do not delete the message from your inbox.

Even though you might want to, the police or your mobile phone company may need it if they investigate.

Don't suffer in silence

If you are being targeted by mobile phone bullies, it's important to let someone know. If you feel uncomfortable talking to a parent or a teacher, try another older relative or friend who you trust. They will be able to help you stop the bullying.

You should also report the bullying to your mobile phone company. They may be able to trace the person who is calling or texting you, even if they withhold their number.

Mobile phone companies all deal with bullying differently, so contact the customer helpline to find out who to speak to.

If you would like more confidential advice, you can contact ChildLine.

The police and mobile phone bullying

Making offensive calls is actually a criminal offence. Anyone who is found guilty could have to pay a large fine. They may also be given a six-month sentence.

If you are being bullied over your mobile phone, don’t be afraid to report it to the police.

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