pageside
Zur Institute, INNOVATIVE RESOURCES and ONLINE CONTINUING EDUCATION
Sign In
.
pageside
HR
Pageside

CSS Submit Button Rollover Css3Menu.com

Pageside
Pageside

 

Cyberbullying:
Definition, Prevalence, Consequences, and Prevention
A guide for parents, teens, health professionals, and educators

By Azzia Walker, B.A & Ofer Zur, Ph.D.
April 2011

For an online course on Cyberbullying: Prevalence, Consequences and Prevention for CE Credit
based partly on this web page, Click Here.

To cite this page: Zur, A. & Zur, O. (2011). Cyberbullying: Definition, Prevalence, Consequences, and Prevention, A guide for parents, teens, health professionals, and educators. Retrieved month/day/year from http://www.zurinstitute.com/cyberbullying.html.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

What is Cyberbullying?

How Serious is Cyberbullying?

How is Cyberbullying Different from Traditional Bullying?
    The Disinhibition Effect

Assessment of Cyberbullying
    Examples of Online Assessment Tools for Cyberbullying

General Guidelines for Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying Prevention: What You Can Do
    Parents
    Educators & Administrators
    Mental Health Professionals
    Students
        Victims of Cyberbullying
        Perpetrators of Cyberbullying
        Bystanders
Legislation Against Cyberbullying
Summary & Conclusion
Online Resources
Recommended Books
References

 

What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is the use of Internet technologies to mock, humiliate, expose, tease, or torment others. It mostly occurs within peer groups, usually among preteens and teens who belong to the same community or school.

Wikipedia (2011) defines cyberbullying as "when the Internet, cell phones or other devices are used to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person." This can include relatively innocuous, persistent emailing after the receiver has requested that such action stop; unwanted sexual remarks communicated online; hate speech; libel; and speaking ill of, or ganging up on, a person or group in a public forum.

Unlike other forms of online communication, cyberbullying includes the intent to, at the minimum, humiliate, tease or mock the target person or, at worst, to harass, harm or torment the victim. Cyberbullies whose victims are harmed, or even commit suicide, are often surprised at the consequences. As explained later in this paper, cyberbullies' lack of direct and immediate feedback from the target or victim often results in their being completely unaware or under-estimating the impact of their bullying on the victim. While some cyberbullies are surprised at the negative, sometimes devastating results of their actions and express regret or remorse, others exhibit no compassion or empathy for the person or group they target. Some cyberbullies state that they were just joking' and did not intend to cause harm, while others are vicious and intentionally cruel, as evidenced by their indifference to the consequences of their bullying.

Targets of cyberbullying often feel humiliated, deceived, vulnerable, or exposed. Because information and ideas spread quickly in the digital era, cyberbullying behavior, such as sexting (sending or posting a nude photo of someone without that person's consent) or even disseminating a slur or rumor, can reach thousands of people in minutes. A student can go from having a neutral standing to being completely humiliated and ostracized almost instantly.

Cyberbullying is most prevalent in Middle Schools, although it also runs rampant in High Schools and, to some extent, college. As children grow up and mature, they are more capable of considering, contemplating or predicting the likely consequences or impact of their actions and, therefore, are less likely to engage in cyber bullying. Sadly, for too many children, by the time these bullying peers have grown, matured and attained some judgment, the harm has already been done.

Top of Page
 

How Serious is Cyberbullying?

Victims of cyberbullying are more than twice as likely to attempt suicide than their peers (Fairfax Times, 2010). For lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students, the statistics are even more alarming: 90% of LGBT students report experiencing offline or face to face bullying at the hands of their peers. Increasingly, this bullying shows up online. LGBT teens are 4-7 times likelier than their peers to attempt suicide.

Targets of cyberbullying are often gay, transgender, queer* or perceived to be so. At least seven young people killed themselves in 2010 as a result of cyberbullying: Justin Aaberg, Billy Lucas, Cody Barker, Asher Brown, Seth Walsh, Raymond Chase, and Tyler Clementi. Several other suicides occurred before this escalation in 2010, and, undoubtedly, there have been other suicides due to cyberbullying that were mislabeled as automobile or other accidents even though they may have been suicide attempts in response to cyberbullying.

Following are details of a couple of these suicides caused by cyberbullying:

Ryan Halligan, a 13-year-old Middle School student in Essex Junction, Vermont, killed himself in his home in 2003 after cyberbullying from his classmates became too much to bear (Wikipedia, 2011c). Ryan was tormented for being a "fag" and "gay" despite being generally known to be heterosexual. On the night of his death, Ryan had an online exchange with a classmate in which he said that he was close to suicide. The classmate typed back, "It's about blanking [sic] time." Ryan's father, John Halligan, has since become a fervent activist against cyberbullying. PBS conducted an interview with Mr. Halligan in 2007; you can read his story here.

Authors' note:
Ryan's suicide is a tragic and clear example of the current, mainstream, anti-gay values damaging both LGBT and straight youth. Calling someone "gay" has become synonymous with condemning their masculinity or femininity and right to respect. Seemingly "harmless" comments such as calling someone a "fag" "gay" or "lesbo" to insult them creates a climate of harm that reaches people of all sexual orientations.

Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old freshman at Rudgers University, was filmed by his roommate while on a date with a man in 2010. The roommate and another classmate distributed the webcam footage online. Three days later, Tyler jumped off George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River (New York Times, 2010b).

In September 2006, ABC News reported on a survey prepared by I-Safe.Org. This 2004 survey of 1,500 students between grades 4-8 reported:

  • 42% have been bullied while online. One in four has had it happen more than once.
  • 35% have been threatened online. Nearly one in five had had it happen more than once.
  • 21% have received hurtful or threatening e-mails or other messages.
  • 58% admit someone has said hurtful things to them online. More than four out of ten say it has happened more than once.
  • 58% have not told their parents or an adult about something hurtful that happened to them online.

A 2006 survey by Harris Interactive reported that 43% of U.S. teens having experienced some form of cyberbullying in the past year (Wikipedia, 2011).

Similarly, a Canadian study found:

  • 23% of middle-schoolers surveyed had been bullied by e-mail;
  • 35% in chat rooms;
  • 41% by text messages on their cell phones; and
  • fully 41% did not know the identity of the perpetrators (Wikipedia, 2011).

Top of Page
 

How is Cyberbullying Different from Traditional Bullying?

Cyberbullying

A traditional bully is defined as a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people (dictionary.com, 2011). In contrast, as we noted above, Cyberbullying is defined as the use of Internet technologies to humiliate, expose, tease or torment others.

The main differences between traditional bullying and cyberbullying are:

  • Obviously, cyberbullying takes place online, in the digital world rather than off-line or face-to-face.
  • Cyberbullies can act anonymously in the privacy of their homes and can hide' behind their laptops, cell phones and screen names or aliases.
  • Unlike traditional bullying, the cyberbully does not receive immediate and timely feedback from the victim for his or her actions - this can render the perpetrators completely unaware of the impacts of their actions and can help the perpetrators "ignore" the effects.
    • For example, in instances of offline bullying, the victim may burst into tears, which can help the bully clearly realize and understand the effect of his/her actions. Similarly, in offline bullying, the victim may physically or verbally fight back, which also can help the bully make an accurate assessment of the impact of his/her behavior, and, in some cases, the bully may suffer immediate negative consequences. Those immediate consequences can include, but are not limited to: punishment by a teacher, parent or other authority figure; physical distress if the victim fights back successfully or another child or adult intervenes on the victim's behalf; or the bully physically hurts him or herself in the process of abuse.
    • Inversely, if someone having a difficult, emotional instant-message or chat conversation, who does not wish to reveal their feelings, can simply choose to not type them out. Thus, someone on one end of a chat can be crying while the person they are chatting with is completely unaware of it. This situation does not occur in person.

  • Cyberbullying damage can spread much faster than traditional bullying due to the sheer speed of digital communication.
  • The Internet is a social place outside the realm of physical touch. This special feature makes girls more likely than boys to be the perpetrators of cyberbullying. (Fairfax Times, 2010; National Public Radio, 2010). Boys are more likely to abuse physically, while girls are more likely to abuse verbally. This tendency on the part of both genders makes the Internet and text communication ripe territory for girls to gang up on other girls. The bullying "playing field" is equal or level online unlike conventional, face-to-face bullying which satisfies the bully's need for confrontation and use of physical strength.

As we know well from the fields of trauma, domestic violence and victimizations, most abuses and violations occur in isolation. Victims who are bullied in person are often physically beaten, spat upon, or their food or other items are taken from them. In comparison, online bullying has a different character. A nude photo sext seen throughout the school can color a young woman's entire High School experience by making her the butt of jokes and humiliation. As noted above, continuous taunting by peers online can push a young person to the brink of suicide. Therefore, we may conclude that cyberbullying has the potential for far more harm than traditional, in-person bullying.
 

The Disinhibition Effect

Cyberbullying

The anonymity and lack of feedback that characterize cyberbullying account for another difference: The Disinhibition Effect of online text communication. Dr. John Suler (2011) explores the unique features of text communication: online via text communication, people cannot see each other when they interact and therefore, often cannot make accurate assessments of how their words affect others. This has a liberating, or disinhibiting, effect. Many people meet or get to know each other primarily online; in these cases, each person is free to create and explore new identities for themselves. This can be as extreme as taking on a new gender or age, or, more commonly, simply trying out a new persona.

The Disinhibition Effect can have a positive impact. Perhaps a shy young woman tries out a new, braver persona online - and finds she likes it enough to stay that way in her offline life. A young, gay boy who is not yet out to his friends and family offline may first come out to an online gay community. Ideally, those who experiment online with how they desire to present offline eventually correlate the two. In other cases, aspects of the personality expressed online may not be safe to express offline. A transsexual may be "out" online for years before being "out" offline, due to safety or cultural concerns.

Experimenting with online personas can also give a person more data on how they may want to act, or not act, offline. A person may experiment with being more assertive, aggressive, or extroverted, only to find out that he/she does not wish to be that way. Experimenting online with different aspects of the personality is a relatively risk-free venture: With the Internet's available anonymity, people can re-invent themselves as many times as they like. The fresh start afforded by a new online persona can only be found offline by moving to a completely new area - in terms of practicality, the Internet is the clear choice for experimentation.

Another unique facet of online text communication discussed by Dr. Suler is the tendency of the Internet to equalize members of different classes, ages, economic status, race, and professions. A CEO can converse with a waitress without the glaring power dynamic that is often inevitable in offline interaction. In summary, the Internet can be (and often is) equal-opportunity

While the Disinhibition Effect has positive potential, its darker side manifests clearly in cyberbullying. Without being identified and without immediate feedback that exposes a victim's suffering, cyberbullies can taunt and tease relentlessly without any clear understanding or realization of the impact of his/her actions on the victim. Because the victim is isolated online and not readily seen or noticed by others, he or she is less likely to be rescued by a teacher, parent, friend, or fellow student. In the schoolyard, a fight will not go unnoticed forever - an authority figure or another student will at some point notice, attempt to intervene and put an end to it. Online, bullying can continue and spread exponentially until the victim is at - or over - the edge of their ability to cope. Clearly, the isolation of victims of cyberbullying (a consequence of the nature of cyberbullying) contributes greatly to the severity of damage and consequences.

Top of Page
 

Assessment of Cyberbullying

Many websites offer free online cyberbullying assessments. The advantage of these online tools is that young people are likely to view them with curiosity, and many learn something about themselves in the process.

Examples of Online Assessment Tools for Cyberbullying

These online assessment tools are familiar to many young people and they are likely to view them as an online game. Online self-evaluations provide the immediate feedback young people expect from Internet technology, and students can compare their scores online with friends via Facebook. Making the assessment process fun and easy is a good way to get the conversation going among young people about this important issue.

For more online resources on assessment, click here.

Top of Page
 

General Guidelines for Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying

Family support can make all the difference in whether bullied young people survive their pre-teen and teen years. LGBT children are particularly vulnerable to cyberbullying due to the current cultural values of many bullies. LGBT children without family support are eight times more likely to attempt suicide than those with family support (Savage & Miller, 2011), even without being the victims of cyberbullying. Obviously, it is important that parents of LGBT, queer or questioning children seek any support needed to come to terms with their children's identity. LGBT children are common targets for cyberbullying, and most of the cyberbullying victims who killed themselves were part of this group.

Many groups and organizations have sprung up or become more active after the seven tragic suicides of 2010. Please see our Resources section for more information.

There are several ways that institutions, families, educators, friends, medical and mental health workers, and community members can help prevent cyberbullying. At the forefront of the prevention efforts are education and awareness. Many children are immersed so deeply in the digital world that they are not aware of its pitfalls and dangers; and many parents and educators are so removed from the digital world that the whole thing looks foreign to some and dangerous to others. Between the obliviousness of the children and the fears of the parents, lies the reality. Widespread fears that, for example, children will be solicited by a stranger online, go to meet them in person and be abducted are largely unfounded. While this has occasionally happened, most young people are not vulnerable to such a situation. As for the children, cyberbullying, sexting and posting information on Facebook can sometimes have great negative impact in the immediate term, and, in the long term, can impede later job acquisition. Parents who want to help their children be safe online can refer to our Psychology of the Web article as an introduction to safety online.

Top of Page
 

Cyberbullying Prevention: What You Can Do

This section details what different groups can do to prevent and respond to cyberbullying. It addresses the following groups: parents, educators, mental health professionals, and students. Among students, there are guidelines for victims, perpetrators and bystanders.

Parents, educators, mental health professionals, and students all have the capacity to ignore or help solve the problem of cyberbullying, each group in their own way. Among the greatest responsibilities of adults is raising awareness, making themselves available to support students, and teaching children and students respectful and ethical behavior - online and off.

Overcoming the apathy of students who have not been victims of cyberbullying can be one of the greatest challenges. Adults must make children and students aware of the reality that many young people endure years of torment, while others meet their deaths, at the hands of cyberbullies. Videos are an extremely effective, engaging way to help students understand what the victims of bullying undergo. You can visit the It Gets Better Project, with videos on LGBT adults who were bullied as teens.

Because the problem of cyberbullying is exacerbated by the lack of immediate feedback from victims to bullies (bullies cannot see or hear the victim's response and can, therefore, ignore it or remain unaware), increasing awareness among all students of the consequences of abuse online is key to preventing further abuse.
 

Parents

  • Educate yourself about the "digital natives" general ways of being, interacting and playing online. A summary article on this topic is, "On Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives".
  • Learn about your children's online activity. Determine how your children spend time online (games, surfing, IM, texting) without judging them. It important that, at least initially, you are neither judgmental nor punitive. Instead, focus on asking questions and being curious.
  • Teach your children to be responsible online by starting a dialogue with them. Education.com provides a simple guide with suggested questions to get the conversation going.
  • Make yourself available as an ally to your children. Most young people need support to get through the hormone changes and social trials of preteen and teen years. This is particularly true if they are lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, queer, or questioning. If you need help coming to terms with your child's identity in order to support them, please see our resources section, which includes organizations like Gay Family.
  • Inquire about your children's safety. Are they being treated well at school? Are they being bullied online? Seek any help you may need to support your children. Do not judge or condemn them. Your children need you.
  • Notice emotional and behavioral changes. For example, if your child does not sleep well, seems depressed, is reluctant to go to school, has significant changes in weight, does not want to go online (or wants to be online all the time). Talk to your child. If appropriate, offer your child the opportunity to talk with a counselor or other mental health practitioner who has an expertise in these areas.
  • Meet with your children's school administrators. Ask them what they are doing to address and prevent cyberbullying. If you meet with resistance, make your case strongly and call for action. Organize with other parents, cite the harmful effects of online bullying and take your concerns higher, to district officials, if needed. Your children's school should have a clear plan for addressing this growing, serious problem. Education for children about cyberbullying is a simple and inexpensive first step. As a parent, you can demand that the school invest at least one conversation/class session on the topic of cyberbullying. A parent's night can also be highly effective. There may be professionals among the parent group who can work with administrators to design a cyberbullying education and prevention program.

Some parents find it helpful to introduce an Internet & Cell Phone Use Family Contract (Los Angeles Times, 2011; Cyberbullying Research Center). Ideally, the teen is involved in creating the content of the contract, asking questions and indicating what they think is reasonable. Simply presenting a contract and demanding agreement is less likely to result in adherence to the contract. Pre-teens and teens, like all of us, want to feel valued and respected and have a sense of autonomy over their lives. Involving them in the process is a healthy way to open or continue the conversation about Internet safety. The Cyberbullying Research Center provides two sample contracts: Cell Phone Use Contract and Internet Use Contract. These can be useful guides if you decide that a contract is useful for your family.
 

Educators & Administrators

Cyberbullying

  • Educate yourself on the dynamics and prevalence of cyberbullying. This first step is extremely important as it can give administrators and teachers a basic understanding of what cyberbullying is, how it spreads and its consequences. Education, consciousness and awareness are the first steps in addressing and (hopefully) stopping this growing problem. Victims need to know they are not alone and all students need to know there are authority figures (parents, teachers, school administrators) that know about cyberbullying and are ready to help. The worst case scenario is a child who needs help but feels he or she has no one to turn to.
  • Educate yourself on the laws of your state relating to cyberbullying. Each state is different. Some give power to schools to suspend students for cyberbullying, even if the abuse is not perpetrated on the school grounds.
  • Teachers should meet with school administrators and fellow staff members to make a plan to combat cyberbullying. If your immediate peers and supervisors are unreceptive, bring this issue to district officials. You may reference this guide, the recent suicides and evidence of the rising number of incidents of cyberbullying. Clearly, cyber safety is a school issue.
  • Start a program in your school for cyber-safety. Singapore has a Cyber-Wellness program that educates students from Kindergarten through High School using age-appropriate lessons on safety online. Ethical behavior online is an under-taught subject area. Digital ethics is the term describing the area of study and practice of correct, respectful behavior online. Clear examples of a breach of digital ethics are starting an online profile under another person's name, identity theft, cyberbullying, and cyber-threats. Just as parents and educators seek to teach children offline ethical behavior, so do we need to turn attention to online ethical behavior.
  • Make yourself available to students. Victims of cyberbullying are, at times, also bullied in person. Watch for name-calling and ill-intentioned teasing and the effect on the victim. He or she needs your support.
  • Notice emotional and behavior changes. For example, if a student seems depressed, avoids other students, seems overly tired, suddenly disinterested in schoolwork, is tardy or absent more than usual, he or she may be grappling with the effects of bullying. Talk with the student, and if appropriate, with the parents also.
  • Refer the child to the school counselor. If appropriate, offer the child a chance to talk with a counselor or other mental health practitioner who has expertise in this area.
  • Meet with victims of bullying. Let them know you support them, that bullying, online and off, is against school rules and (in cases of cyberbullying and threats) illegal. Depending on the situation, your support may include talking with the victim's parents, bullies' parents, school officials or the bullies themselves. Each case is different, but of prime importance is for you to align yourself for student safety, online and off.

For more on this topic, please stay tuned for our upcoming article on Cyber-Wellness. You can find a brief description of Cyber-Wellness here.
 

Mental Health Professionals

  • Educate yourself on the dynamics and prevalence of cyberbullying. This first step is extremely important, as it can give psychotherapists and counselors a basic understanding of what cyberbullying is, how it spreads and its consequences. Education, consciousness and awareness are the first steps to addressing and (hopefully) stopping this growing problem. Victims need to know they are not alone and all students need to know there are authority figures (parents, counselors, teachers, school administrators) who know about cyberbullying and are ready to help.
  • Educate yourself on the laws of your state surrounding cyberbullying. Each state is different. Some give power to schools to suspend students for cyberbullying, even if the abuse is not perpetrated from school grounds.
  • Learn how to work with parents, teachers, school administrators, law enforcement officials, and other potential collaborators. It is important that counselors do not keep the dialogue within the counseling room only. Sometimes, interventions need to take place at school, home or even at a local police station or courthouse. Of course, confidentiality laws still apply and require adherence.

 
Students

Victims of Cyberbullying

  • Get support. Talk to your parents, school administrators and school counselors. Depending on your situation, this may be fruitful or it may not. If you do not find support right away, keep speaking up. Sooner or later, others will join you.
  • Seek support online. There are numerous online sites that are geared to support, advise and direct victims of cyberbullying. Going to these sites and blogs and thus gaining support can reduce the isolation and help you cope. Here are a few examples:
  • Join with other students via Meetup, Make it Better, Gay-Straight Alliance, or start your own Students Against Cyberbullying coalition. Whether you are gay, straight or neither, you do not deserve to be bullied online or off. Join with others who believe in every student's right to safety and respect.
  • Ask your school officials what they are doing to protect you. If your parents are supportive, bring them to meet with your school counselor or administrator. This can - and should - be done before any real damage occurs. Preventative measures are the best protection against harm.
  • Seek professional help. Talking to the school counselor, psychotherapist or a minister in the community can be very helpful. If the person you chose to talk with is not supportive and helpful, keep speaking to people until you get the help you need.
  • Explore your legal rights. Many states have enacted laws to protect against cyberbullying. The Cyberbullying Research Center provides this comprehensive guide to state laws on the topic of cyberbullying. While pressing legal charges in a courtroom is not for everyone, even simply being prepared to do so can work to your benefit. Let your school officials know that you know the laws, and request their swift action against cyberbullying.

Perpetrators of Cyberbullying

  • Explore and answer the relevant questions:
    • Are you aware of the consequences of your actions?
    • Do you realize that what may seem funny or harmless to you may be perceived differently by the target of your posting?
    • What compels you to abuse others?
    • How would you feel if you were ostracized by your entire community and abused publicly?

  • Research the young people who committed suicide due to bullying. This may help "drive the reality home." Simply Google "suicides cyberbullying" to get started.
  • Take a cyberbullying assessment.
  • Seek professional help: Talking to the school counselor or a psychotherapist or minister in the community can be very helpful. Depending on your situation, you can tell them, "I thought I was being funny, but people are getting hurt. Please help me understand what is okay to post, and how to tell what is okay to post," or "I tend to be mean to people for no good reason. I'd like to stop."
  • The present moment is the right time to make a change. If you bully people online, making fun of them or making cruel jokes, this hurts people in a real way. Some of your victims may become extremely depressed or even suicidal. Do you want a teen suicide on your conscience? You can be an ex-bully who saw the light before the worst happened, rather than one who kept pushing and had to live with guilt for a lifetime.

Bystanders

  • If you see abuse online, do not stand silent! Tell your parents and your teachers. Reach out to the victim to let them know they are not alone. Not doing anything is enabling the bullies, which gives you shared responsibility for harm incurred by the victim/s. It is your duty to help make school safe for everyone - and as a "neutral" party, you have a choice about what side you take.
  • The most harmful actions you can take are to join the bullies or say nothing. Not saying anything enables harm to occur and continue. Bystanders have legal, ethical and moral responsibilities to take right action and defend the weak.
  • Bystanders' passive behavior may be legally punishable. Being aware of a crime and making no clear attempt to stop or report it is illegal in many states.

Top of Page
 

Legislation Against Cyberbullying

The 2006 suicide of thirteen-year-old Megan Meier inspired the case United States vs. Lori Drew, the first case on the topic of cyberbullying. In that case, the defendant, Lori Drew, was convicted but later acquitted. As a result of Meier's suicide, her home state Missouri enacted an anti-cyberbullying law which upgraded cyber harassment from a misdemeanor to a felony. In the ensuing years, 29 other states enacted similar laws.

The strongest anti-cyberbullying laws currently exist in CA. A bill called AB-747 was updated in 2011 to include communication via social media in the pool of "electronic communication" that is protected under the act. Facebook had just 20,000 users at the time that the Anti-Bully law was first drafted; as of 2011, the same site has 750 million users and growing. Times are changing.

In other states, there is some question of whether the laws are effective and helpful. In Oregon, the cyberbullying must "substantially interfere with the education" of the target to be considered a crime. Therefore, students who perform well academically, even when suicidally depressed, are not protected.

The laws vary in the severity of their consequences and delegation of responsibility to prosecute. States like Arkansas and Idaho give schools authority to punish students who participate in cyberbullying, even if the offense did not originate on school grounds. This is a sane, safe way to go about it: Cyberbullying affects students, is continued and exacerbated on school grounds and bleeds over into offline life, making social situations unsafe for the target.

On the federal level, the only legislation introduced was the flawed Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act, which defined cyberbullying in broad terms. According to Representative Linda Sánchez, who introduced the bill, the behavior had to be "repeated, hostile and severe." Critics of the bill expressed a fear that non-bullying behavior that is simply rude, such as that of flame war participants, would unjustly fall under this new definition.

The New York Times (2010) remarks thus on the debate about what behavior constitutes cyberbullying: "Cyberbullying is an imprecise label for online activities ranging from barrages of teasing texts to sexually harassing group sites."

For updated information on cyberbullying legislation across the country, please see the New York Times section on Cyberbullying.

Top of Page
 

Summary & Conclusion

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is the use of Internet technologies to humiliate, expose, tease, or torment others. It is different from traditional bullying due to the potential anonymity of online communication and range and speed of exposure. The most significant and potentially harming facet of online bullying is the fact that the perpetrator does not get direct and immediate feedback about how he or she affects the victim. Lack of awareness of the consequences of so-called teasing can be deadly. This is the darker side of the Online Disinhibition Effect (tendency of people to be less inhibited, more prone to push boundaries and experiment, online). It can, unfortunately, shield perpetrators from facing the affects of their actions on their victims.

Cyberbullying is a significant and prevalent issue in the digital age, and will continue to grow unless there are significant changes in school policies, parenting around Internet safety and peer action. As we have learned, cyberbullying can push young people to the edge of coping, and many of them over that edge into suicide. The longer parents and educators choose to remain passive regarding this growing problem, the more young people will be depressed and ostracized in their middle and high school years. At worst, they may end their lives. Many more children will live, but be traumatized by years of social isolation and abuse. Community members must come together and take action to stop the harm so many young people endure at the hands of cyberbullies.

* Queer is an umbrella term for sexual minorities that are not heterosexual, heteronormative, or gender-binary. While the term was formerly used by outsiders to put down gays, lesbians and transgenders, the term has been claimed and is used by the population it describes. (Wikipedia, 2011b)

Top of Page
 

Online Resources

Top of Page
 

Recommended Books

Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J. W. (2009). Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying. Sage Publications (Corwin Press).

Savage, D. & Miller, T. (2011) It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living. Penguin Group, New York: NY.
 

References

Dictionary.com Bullying http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bullying (accessed 3/30/11)

Fairfax Times Cyberbullying defies traditional stereotype http://www.fairfaxtimes.com/cms/story.php?id=2078 (9/1/10)

Los Angeles Times (2011) Chatting, texting and (horrors) sexting -- families need a 'family online-use plan,' experts say http://www.latimes.com/health/boostershots/la-heb-kids-social-media-20110328,0,1628142.story (3/28/11)

National Public Radio - Florida Forum (2010) Interview with Dr. Sameer Hinduja http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wxel/floridaforum.mediaplayer?STATION_NAME=wxel&MEDIA_ID=914403&MEDIA_EXTENSION=mp3&MODULE=floridaforum%20 (7/11/10)

New York Times Cyberbullying http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/c/cyberbullying/index.html (9/30/10)

New York Times Private Moment Made Public, Then a Fatal Jump http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/30/nyregion/30suicide.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=rutgers&st=cse (9/29/2010) (b)

Savage, D. & Miller, T. (2011) It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living. Penguin Group, New York: NY.

Suler, John The Online Disinhibition Effect http://users.rider.edu/~suler/psycyber/disinhibit.html (accessed 3/31/11)

Wikipedia. Cyberbullying http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyber-bullying#Cyber-bullying_defined (3/23/11)

Wikipedia. Queer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queer (4/16/11b)

Wikipedia. Suicide of Ryan Halligan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_of_Ryan_Halligan (3/23/11c)

Top of Page

Pageside
Pageside

 


Share This:

Follow Us On:     TwitterFacebookLinkedInGoogle Plus

Click here to receive clinical updates by e-mail.

Online Courses  -  Zur Institute on YouTubeYouTube
Live Workshops  -  Forensic & Expert Witness Services -  Consultations for Therapists
Private Practice Handbook  -  HIPAA Compliance Kit  -  Clinical Forms  -  CE Info  -  Discussions
Online Catalog -  Free Articles  -  Boundaries & Dual Relationships  -  General Public Resources  -  Seminars For General Public
Organizational Discounts  -  About Us  -  FAQ  -  Privacy, Disclaimer, Terms of Use, DMCA  -  ADA Policy & Grievance -  CV
Home -  Contact Us  -  Site Map


ZUR INSTITUTE, LLC
Ofer Zur, Ph.D., Director

Sonoma Medical Plaza, 181 Andrieux St. Suite 212, Sonoma, CA 95476
Phone: 707-935-0655, Fax: 707-736-7045, Email: info@zurinstitute.com

© 1997-2014 Ofer Zur, Ph.D., LLC. All rights reserved. Privacy Statement, Disclaimer & Terms of Use.
Site design/maintenance by R&D Web

Pageside