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Online harassment

Online harassment

Buckinghamshire New University and Bucks Students’ Union believe that everyone has the right to work, live and study in a safe and supportive environment that is free from harassment and fosters inclusivity and respect.

We are working to empower students to prevent, respond, support and speak up in cases of online harassment.

What is online harassment?

Online harassment includes, but isn’t limited to: being called names, hassled or threatened on an online platform, or having a person’s dignity violated, and/or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment, through online platforms.

What type of behaviours might be online harassment?

The following types of behaviour if combined with an online platform constitute as online harassment:

  • Verbal abuse and harassment
  • Bullying
  • Threats and intimidation
  • Offensive mail
  • Trolling.

Anyone can become a victim, no matter who they are, how old they are, their gender, their race, their sexual orientation, class, social standing, religion or background.

REMEMBER: if you have been a victim of any sort of online harassment or bullying: it was not your fault; you are not to blame, and you are not alone; the perpetrator is entirely at fault.

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Getting support for online harassment, whether recent or historical, can be really daunting. At BNU, we realise it is very important for victims to be given their own choices when deciding on support options.

If you think you have been a victim of online harassment, it may be hard to know what to do or how to feel. Remember that what happened was not your fault. What you do next, however, is your choice.


Are you in immediate danger or do you need urgent medical care? If so, you can call 999.

Finding a safe space.

If possible, try and find somewhere you feel safe. If this isn't possible and you are on campus you can call security on 01494 605 070.


Speak to a friend. Talking things through with someone you trust can sometimes help.

If you're not sure whether it’s serious enough to report the police yet, you might choose to speak to someone at Victims First or by calling 0300 1234 148.They will offer you free specialist emotion support and practical advice, in the event of any crime, including online harassment, to help you cope and recover.

Alternatively, consider visiting the Stop Online Abuse UK website for more information and advice.

If you feel ready to tell someone in the University, you can contact studentwellbeing@bucks.ac.uk or call 01494 602324. We are here to listen to you, in confidence, and will help you access resources and make an informed decision about next steps - if and when you choose to. If you don’t want to inform the University, try to think about getting support from other organisations.

Reporting to the University

You are encouraged to report any incident to the University so that emotional support and practical help can be provided. Contact studentwellbeing@bucks.ac.uk or call 01494 602324.

Reporting to the Police or Victims First

  • If you're thinking of reporting an incident to the police or speaking to Victims First, Citizens Advice have produced a useful page of what online harassment and cyber-crime is and how to deal with and report it.
  • Victims First will give you advice on reporting online or by calling  0300 1234 148 
  • You can report to the police by calling 101 or visiting your local station.

Anonymous Reporting

If you don’t want to report to the police, you can also report the incident anonymously by calling Crimestoppers at any point on 0800 555 111 or use their online form.

By reporting an online incident you are actively sharing information, and not appropriating harassing or abusive behaviour. Once you report a range of actions take place to help the victim and any witnesses to identify and deal with the person responsible, preventing it from happening again.

These actions may include:

  • Advice and information for victims
  • Support for victims through any criminal prosecution
  • Rapid removal of offensive remarks
  • Gathering of photo evidence of online harassment
  • Extra home security for victims
  • Extra CCTV to identify people involved and help with evidence
  • Tenancy enforcement against people responsible for hate crime
  • Police investigation to gather evidence.

Other support services include:

If someone discloses to you that they have experienced any form of online harassment or bullying, believe and listen to them. Make sure you tell them it was not their fault and let them to be in control of their decisions around reporting or getting support for the incident, whether it is current or historical.

If you are a staff member receiving a disclosure, you must alert studentwellbeing@bucks.ac.uk or call 01494 602324. All disclosures are treated with the utmost confidence.

The discloser doesn’t have to access external services if they contact the University, but we can help them with this should they decide to.

More advice is available on the stop online abuse website.

  • If someone discloses an incident of online harassment to you, please remember that this information is highly confidential. Only pass on information on a ‘need to know’ basis, and always with the person’s permission.
  • If you are worried that they or others are at harm from the perpetrator or themselves, confidentiality can be breached as part of the University’s safeguarding policy. It is important to contact a member of staff such as your tutor or line manager. If you are concerned for an individual’s immediate safety or that of others, you should discuss this with them before any confidential information is disclosed to a third party. If you, or they, are in immediate danger contact the police on 999 or Security on 01494 505 070.
  • Unnecessary disclosures to multiple parties could result in disciplinary action. Information may only be shared on a ‘need to know’ basis, with the consent of the survivor after explaining who you are telling and why, unless it is an emergency.