WHAT IS CYBER-BULLYING?
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What is Cyber-bullying?:

Cyber-bullying occurs when a person (often a child, preteen, or teenager) is bullied, harassed, humiliated, threatened, embarrassed, or targeted in some way by another person (often a child, preteen or teenager). Cyber-bullying is much like traditional playground bullying where there is name calling and someone is getting picked on, except cyber-bullying is done through the use of the internet, cell phones and other forms of digital technology. In order for it to be categorized as cyber-bullying, the intent must be to cause emotional distress, and the methods of cyber-bullying are limited only by a child's' imagination or access to technology . Cyber bullying can be something as simple as continuing to send an e-mail to someone who has said they want no further contact with the sender, but it could also  include threats, sexual remarks and hate speech. Though the use of sexual remarks and threats are sometimes present in cyber-bullying, it is not the same as sexual harassment and does not involve sexual predators.

StopCyberbullyingNow offers these concrete examples of traditional and cyber bullying.

Traditional:

  • Punching, shoving and other acts that hurt people physically
  • Spreading bad rumors about people
  • Keeping certain people out of a "group"
  • Teasing people in a mean way
  • Getting certain people to "gang up" on others

Cyber-bullying:

  • Sending mean text, e-mail or instant messages
  • Posting nasty pictures or messages about others in blogs or on websites
  • Using someone else's username to spread rumors or lies about someone

Types of Cyber-bullying:

There are two very common types of cyber-bullying; direct attack, and cyber-bullying by proxy.

Direct Attack: A direct attack is a message that is sent to a child directly such as:

  • Instant messaging or text messaging
  • Blogs (Myspace, Facebook...etc...)
  • Stolen passwords for email, instant messaging, and other online accounts
  • Websites (websites that are created to tease or hurt another child)                                     
  • Pictures sent through email and cell phones
  • Internet polling ("Who's hot, Who's not"..."Who is the biggest 8th grade slut"...)
  • Sending malicious code (viruses, spy ware and hacking programs)
  • Sending porn and other junk emails or IMs
  • Impersonation (posing as the victim and harming other people)
  • Interactive gaming (X-box live, Sony Playstation network)

 

Cyber-bullying through proxy: Cyber-bullying through proxy is when the "bully" gets someone to do the dirty work for them. Most often they are unwitting accomplices and don't know they are being used by the "bully". Cyber-bullying by proxy is considerably the most dangerous type of cyber-bullying because it often gets adults involved in the harassment and most of the time the adults are unaware that they're bullying a child.

Who does Cyber-bullying effect?:

Cyber-bullying normally effects any child, preteen or teenager who has access to the internet, email, text messages, etc... Again it is much like traditional playground bullying where fellow classmates, friends, and even enemies attack one another with harsh words and threats. Sometimes the threats are harmless and victim is able to brush it off of their shoulders, other times the threats and attacks are much more painful and can result in depression and sometimes even suicide. As I explained on the opening page of this essay, victims of cyber-bullying are much different than victim's of traditional bullying. Kids who are bullied on the playground can be physically beaten by someone who is twice their size, but in the case of cyber-bullying the little guy can kick the crap out of the big kid verbally, and can sometimes leave some very emotional scars.

BBC produced an article about teachers who felt that social networking sites (Mysapce, Facebook...etc) were becoming "weapons". Within the article, they quoted a boy named Nathan who had been a victim of traditional bullying. Nathan said: "When people are bullied they often don't feel confident about speaking to people face to face." Perhaps this further proves that cyber-bullying gives individuals a special "power" that allows them to say what they want, to whoever they want, and they cannot get in trouble for it. Nor will it come back to bit them in the butt tomorrow. The ability to remain anonymous on the internet when cyber-bullying gives the upper-hand to the kids who would probably have the lower-hand on the playground.

Who carries out the act of Cyber-bullying?:

The act of Cyber-bullying is normally committed by one child, preteen or teenager towards another child, preteen, or teenager. This is not to say that adults are never involved. There have been instances (the Story of Megan Meiers for example) where adults have posed as children, preteens or teenagers to cyber-bully a child, preteen or teenager. If the bullying occurs in a conversation between two adults it is not considered Cyber-bullying.

Why/Reasons for Cyber-bullying:

 StopCyberBullying.Org gives this explanation for why kids cyber-bully:


Who knows why kids do anything? When it comes to cyber-bullying, they are often motivated by anger, revenge or frustration. Sometimes they do it for entertainment or because they are bored and have too much time on their hands and too many tech toys available to them. Many do it for laughs or to get a reaction. Some do it by accident, and either send a message to the wrong recipient or didn't think before they did something. The Power-hungry do it to torment others and for their ego. Revenge of the Nerd may start out defending themselves from traditional bullying only to find that they enjoy being the tough guy or gal. Mean girls do it to help bolster or remind people of their own social standing. And some think they are righting wrong and standing up for others. Because their motives differ, the solutions and responses to each type of cyber-bullying incident has to differ too. Unfortunately, there is no "one size fits all" when cyber-bullying is concerned. Only two of the types of cyber-bullies have something in common with the traditional schoolyard bully. Experts who understand schoolyard bullying often misunderstand cyber-bullying, thinking it is just another method of bullying. But the motives and the nature of cyber-communications, as well as the demographic and profile of a cyber-bully differ from their offline counterpart
.