Shona McGarty: how to beat online bullies

The murder of EastEnders character Lucy's Beale has been the soap's top storyline in the last year. In the aftermath of the girl's death Whitney Dean, played by Shona McGarty, admits she was regularly bullied by Lucy before she died.

Upsetting texts drove normally kind-hearted Whitney to lash out, penning a hateful "Rot in hell" card to go with Lucy's funeral flowers.

These days, it's impossible to separate online life from the rest of what we do. Texts, online chat, email, photos, videos or posts on social networks are all used by bullies.

Bullying can affect anyone of any age or background but there are things that you can do to help the situation if you find that you or a loved one are affected by it.

Top five tips for coping with online bullying

1. Ignore it

Bullies are looking for a reaction. Don't give them the satisfaction of retaliating. Remember, if you lash out, you may be the one accused of cyber bullying.

2. Block it

Support and advice

Shona McGarty as Whitney Dean
  • Whatever your age, if you are experiencing online bullying visit www.Cybersmile.org for advice and support, or call 0845 688 7277.
  • If you are under 19 you can also visit www.ChildLine.org.uk or contact them by phone on 0800 1111.

WebWise: Protection from online harassment

If you are using a social network, 'unfriend' or block the account the abuse is coming from. Keep a close eye on your privacy settings to make sure you're not sharing with people you don't want to.

3. Offload it

There is always somewhere to turn. The sooner you can speak to somebody you trust, the better. If you feel that you have no-one to turn to there are several organisations that you can contact - see the 'Support and advice' box for details.

4. Record it

Keep emails or text messages and take screen grabs of the offending messages. This will help if you decide to report the cyber bullying.

5. Report it

Most social networks have a way of reporting offensive posts. See this guide to reporting issues arising on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and other popular channels including online gaming platforms.

Protect yourself from online abuse

There are things that you can do to make you less vulnerable to bullying.

Webcam safety

Jacqueline Jossa

EastEnders' Jacqueline Jossa presents a guide to protecting your webcam from hacking or 'ratting'.

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Never give out any personal information such as passwords to anyone, even a close friend, boyfriend or girlfriend.

Don't give in to pressure from others to spread rumours. No one likes to be the subject of malicious gossip, so don't fuel the flames.

Finally, be aware that others may not see the 'funny side' of what you share online - especially if it's about them. Even if you take a comment, picture or video down later it might already have been shared with others.

Mobile apps and social networks are great ways to keep in touch with friends and family. By being thoughtful about what we share and showing respect for others we can all enjoy the benefits of being connected.

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