88% rise in Childline counselling sessions about cyberbullying

Online bullying and related mental health issues highlighted as key concerns at the start of Anti-Bullying Week

The number of children and young people experiencing online bullying has increased by 88% in 5 years1, it's revealed as the UK marks the start of Anti-Bullying Week.

Figures from our new report, "What children are telling us about bullying" show that Childline counselled 4,541 children about cyber-bullying in 2015/16 compared to 2,410 in 2011/12.

In a quarter of counselling sessions, children and young people were also counselled for a mental health and wellbeing issue.

These included low self-esteem, self-harm, suicidal thoughts and depression.

Bullying is a major concern for children

Online bullying is quickly becoming a main concern among children and young people contacting Childline. A child can feel like there's no escape because it can happen wherever they are, at any time of day or night. 

Our report reveals: 

  • children as young as 7 told Childline counsellors they were being tormented by hurtful messages from which they felt there was no escape
  • comments posted on their social media profiles, blogs and online pictures ranged from bullying about looks to death threats
  • in the most extreme cases, children and young people were told to "go and kill yourself"
  • nearly a third (31%) of counselling sessions2 were from children and young people experiencing bullying on a gaming or social networking site.

"Every day I wake up scared to go to school, scared about the comments people will make and scared about walking home. Then I get in and log onto my social networking site and there are horrible messages everywhere. I’m struggling to cope with how upset I feel. I can’t go on like this."
Girl contacting Childline

Childline: online, on the phone, anytime


We've created a dedicated area about cyberbullying on the Childline website where young people can share their experiences and offer support to their peers through message boards.

Last year alone there were more than 11,000 posts about online bullying.

Read more about Childline

Dame Esther Rantzen

Dame Esther Rantzen, President of Childline said:
"Bullying can wreck young people's lives, especially now that the bullies don't stop at the school gates.

Cyberbullying can follow them home until it becomes a persecution they can't escape. It's imperative that adults, parents and teachers intervene to protect them, because we've learned over the years from Childline callers that bullying doesn't stop on its own - left alone it gets worse.

"Schools must take this problem seriously, and above all, children must ask for help. Bullying has been among the top problems children have brought to us since we launched 30 years ago. So children need to be reminded that Childline is here for them day and night, offering confidential help and advice on effective ways to beat the bullies."


  1. In 2015/16, out of the 4,541 counselling sessions about online bullying there were 1,420 counselling sessions with young people who specifically mentioned being bullied on gaming or social networking sites.

  2. In the last 5 years, counselling about online bullying has increased by 88%. In 2015/16 there were 4,541 counselling sessions and in 2011/12 there were 2,410.