What is Cyberbullying?

By Mallory Johnson

Staff Writer

What is cyber bullying? It is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets, as well as social media websites, text messages, and chat. Kids who are being cyberbullied are often bullied in person as well. Kids who are cyber bullied have a harder time getting away from the behavior.

Cyber bullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and reach a kid even when he or she is alone. Cyber bullying messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience. It can be difficult and sometimes impossible to trace the source. Deleting inappropriate or harassing messages, texts, and pictures is extremely difficult after they have been posted or sent.

The 2010-2011 School Crime Supplement (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics) indicates that 9% of students in grades 6-12 experienced cyber bullying. The 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey finds that 15% of high school students (grades 9-12) were electronically bullied in the past year.

According to bullying.about.com there are six forms that are common for cyberbullying. Harassment which is repeatedly sending offensive, rude, and insulting messages. Denigration which is information about another that is derogatory and untrue through posting it on a Web page, sending it to other through email or instant messaging, or posting or sending digitally altered photos of someone. Flaming is online “fighting” using electronic messages with angry or vulgar language.

Impersonation is breaking into an email or social networking account and using that person’s online identity to send or post vicious or embarrassing material to or about others. Outing and trickery, which is sharing someone’s secrets or embarrassing information, or tricking someone into revealing secrets or embarrassing information and forwarding it to others. The last is cyber stalking which is repeatedly sending messages that include threats of harm or are highly intimidating, or engaging in other online activities that make a person afraid for his or her safety.

The warning signs of cyberbullying are similar to those for traditional bullying in terms of emotional effects. A child may be experiencing cyber bullying if he or she appears sad, moody, or anxious, avoids school, withdraws from or shows a lack of interest in social activities, appears upset after using the computer or being online, experiences a drop in grades or decline in academic performance.

According to Cyber bullying statistics from the i-SAFE foundation, over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying. More than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyber threats online. Over 25% of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the Internet. Well over half of young people do not tell their parents when cyber bullying occurs.

The Cyberbullying Research Center also did a series of surveys that found over 80% of teens use a cell phone regularly, making it the most popular form of technology and a common medium for cyberbullying. Girls are at least as likely as boys to be cyber bullies or their victims. Boys are more likely to be threatened by cyber bullies than girls. Cyberbullying affects all races and cyberbullying victims are more likely to have low self-esteem and to consider suicide. If anyone has been a victim or perpetrators of cyberbullying, they may need to talk to a counselor or therapist to overcome depression or other harmful effects of cyberbullying.

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