Historically, bullying has involved physical aggression; teasing or name calling; and intimidation through looks, gestures, or exclusion. In recent years, technology has given children a new weapon in their aim to bullying others: Cyberbulling. Today’s child can bully someone through emails, instant messaging, text messages, social networking pages, web pages, blogs, and chatrooms/discussion groups.
Cyberbullying is defined as intentional and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.
One of the concerns with cyberbullying is how differs from “traditional” forms of bullying. First in that it can happen anytime/anywhere . A compilation of research has shown that:
- 45% of preteens and 30% of teens received the messages while at school.
- 44% of preteens and 70% of teens received the messages at home.
- 34% of preteens and 25% of teens received the messages while at a friend’s house.
Second, the bullying messages and images can be sent quickly and to a large number of people. Third and perhaps the most difficult is that the bully can become anonymous making it difficult to trace who they are.
Forms of cyberbullying can involve:
- Sending cruel, vulgar, or threatening messages or images
- Posting sensitive, private information and/or lies about another person
- Pretending to be someone else in order to make that person look bad
- Intentionally excluding someone from an online group
Aonther concern with cyberbullying is that it is difficult for people to see the importance of intervening or are unsure how. Many people don’t see the harm in it because there are “more serious forms of aggression to worry about.” While it is true that there are other issues to worry about, we must admit that if cyberbullying is not dealt with, it will continue to get worse. Parents worry that they do not have the technical skills to keep up with their kids’ online behavior; teachers are afraid to get involve in behaviors that often occur away from school; and law enforcement is hesitant to get involved unless there is clear evidence of a crime or a significant threat to someone’s physical safety. As a result, cyberbullying incidents often slip through the cracks and the problem continues to grow.
Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J. (2010). Cyberbullying fact sheet:
Identification, Prevention, and Response. Cyberbullying Research Center. Retrieved [insert date], from http://www.cyberbullying.us/Cyberbullying_Identification_Prevention_Response_Fact_Sheet.pdf