Online abuse and bullying prevention guide

This guide has been developed for professionals who work with young people, to help them understand what constitutes abusive behaviour online, the consequences of that behaviour, and where they can get help. The guide applies to professionals working in England and Wales.

The top eight negative online behaviours identified by the young people are set out below and this guide will focus specifically on helping young people understand these behaviours. The guide does not cover the impact of young people discovering upsetting content online. Annex A sets out the potential criminal consequences for each of these behaviours.

1. Threatening behaviour e.g. credible death threats, stalking

2. Trolling – the trend of anonymously seeking to provoke outrage by posting insults and abuse online

3. Blackmail including revenge porn

4. Cyberbulling – writing messages with intent to cause distress or anxiety in a public place (e.g. Twitter, excluding people from online groups (e.g. Facebook)

5. Grooming online – causing or encouraging a child under the age of 18 to engage in sexual activity online or meeting them in person after online contact

6. Fake profiles – only illegal if someone is trying to deceive someone for personal gain / fraud / harassment / intercepting someone else’s messages / stalking

7. Hacking accounts

8. Tagging photos with defamatory or negative comments