Cyber-bullying

Bullying has always existed, all over the world. It is probable something we have all either participated in or something that has happened to us. Weirdly, most of us have actually been on both sides of bullying. It affects loads of people and has recently caught the attention of schools, parents, and even professional researchers in recent years. But what exactly is cyber-bullying and how can it affect you?

What is Cyber-bullying?

Cyber-bullying involves the use of technology such as e-mail, cell-phones, instant messages, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, blogs, and anything else you can think of, for  intentional, repeated, and aggressive behavior by a person or group that is meant to harm someone else. (Belsey, year?) There are two types of cyber-bullying: direct attacks, which are simply messages sent to kids directly, and cyber-bullying by proxy, which is using others to help bully the victim. Cyber-bullying by proxy typically involves a bully obtaining a victim’s passwords and sending out mean or hateful messages to everyone on the victim’s buddy list. The people who receive the messages get upset with and may even retaliate against the victim; not realizing that the victim did not sent the messages to them.

As you may know or not, there are just way too many ways to cyberbully. Adults legally define them in specific ways.

·         Flaming: a brief incident between at least two people that can occur through any kind of communication technology.

·         Harassment: multiple messages sent to a person that lasts longer than flaming and is more one-sided, with only one victim.

·         Denigration: the sending of information about someone that is false and humiliating.

·         Impersonation: pretending to be the victim online and talking to other people in a nasty or rude manner.

·         Outing and trickery: tricking a person into sharing information that they did not mean to and then disclosing this information.

·         Exclusion: used in areas of the Internet such as your buddy list by not adding the victim or blocking them.

·         Happy slapping: a newer form of cyber-bullying when a bully walks up and slaps someone while another person films it or photographs the fight and uploads it to the Internet.

Relevant Statistics

An important thing to keep in mind is that the person who is a cybe-rbully one day can be become the victim the next day. There are no assigned roles in cyber-bullying. Did you know that one in six teens report being bullied at least once a week, and that figure jumps to 50 per cent if they only count the bullying as lasting one week? Additionally, 40 per cent of teens report that they have been bullied at some point during their time in school (Shariff, 2008). Meanwhile, Cyber-bullying has become a worldwide issue and teens in every country have to deal with cyberbullying. For example, in Singapore, it was found that 69 % of students have access at home to the Internet and 75 % have personal cell phones. Of these students, at least 14% had been bullied through text messages and 13% were bullied through instant messages (Shariff, 2008). A 2005 study of 120 Australian students in 8th grade found that one quarter knew someone who had been bullied through technology (Campbell, 2005).  .

Effects on Youth

Victims of cyber-bullying tend to experience depression, confusion, low self-esteem, helplessness, social anxiety, reduced concentration, alienation, and when it gets really bad, suicidal thoughts. Meanwhile, the perpetrators of cyberbullying express feeling excited, aggressive, and even pleased, while others express guilt and regret (Kowalski, Limber and Agatson, 2008). The long-term effects of cyber-bullying have been found to be worse than those of schoolyard bullying because there is no getting away from the bullying. The bullying follows a victim of cyber-bullying home and they are never actually free from the torment unless they avoid electronic communications!

Further information and resource to help

I-Safe.org (Internet safety and cyberbullying information website) 

WiredSafety.org (Internet safety and cyberbullying information website)

Ad Council (Dept of Justice sponsored site with anti-cyberbullying info and advertisements)

http://heroworkshop.wordpress.com/ (A great blog that addresses all sorts of issues, including bullying, and really thinks deeply about how to solve them. Lots of ideas for picking out your latest hero too!)

http://keepschoolpeace.blogspot.com/ (A blog about contemporary school issues you will relate to)