Cyberbullying

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Cyberbullying is the use of information technology to repeatedly harm or harass other people in a deliberate manner.[1] According to U.S. Legal Definitions, Cyber-bullying could be limited to posting rumors or gossips about a person in the internet bringing about hatred in other’s minds; or it may go to the extent of personally identifying victims and publishing materials severely defaming and humiliating them.[2]

With the increase in use of these technologies, cyberbullying has become increasingly common, especially among teenagers.[3] Awareness has also risen, due in part to high-profile cases like the suicide of Tyler Clementi.[4]

Definition

Legal definition

Cyberbullying is defined in legal glossaries as

  • actions that use information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm another or others.
  • use of communication technologies for the intention of harming another person
  • use of internet service and mobile technologies such as web pages and discussion groups as well as instant messaging or SMS text messaging with the intention of harming another person.

Examples of what constitutes cyberbullying include communications that seek to intimidate, control, manipulate, put down, falsely discredit, or humiliate the recipient. The actions are deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior intended to harm another. Cyberbullying has been defined by The National Crime Prevention Council: “When the Internet, cell phones or other devices are used to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person."[5][6]

A cyberbully may be a person whom the target knows or an online stranger. A cyberbully may be anonymous and may solicit involvement of other people online who do not even know the target. This is known as a 'digital pile-on.'[7]

Cyberbullying vs. cyberstalking

Further information: Cyberstalking

The practice of cyberbullying is not limited to children and, while the behavior is identified by the same definition when practiced by adults, the distinction in age groups sometimes refers to the abuse as cyberstalking or cyberharassment when perpetrated by adults toward adults.[8] Common tactics used by cyberstalkers are performed in public forums, social media or online information sites and are intended to threaten a victim's earnings, employment, reputation, or safety. Behaviors may include encouraging others to harass the victim and trying to affect a victim's online participation. Many cyberstalkers try to damage the reputation of their victim and turn other people against them.

Cyberstalking may include false accusations, monitoring, making threats, identity theft, damage to data or equipment, the solicitation of minors for sex, or gathering information in order to harass.[9] A repeated pattern of such actions and harassment against a target by an adult constitutes cyberstalking. Cyberstalking often features linked patterns of online and offline behavior. There are consequences of law in offline stalking and online stalking, and cyber-stalkers can be put in jail.[10] Cyberstalking is a form of cyberbullying.[11]

Comparison to traditional bullying

Certain characteristics inherent in online technologies increase the likelihood that they will be exploited for deviant purposes.[12] Unlike physical bullying, electronic bullies can remain virtually anonymous using temporary email accounts, pseudonyms in chat rooms, instant messaging programs, cell-phone text messaging, and other Internet venues to mask their identity; this perhaps frees them from normative and social constraints on their behavior.

Additionally, electronic forums often lack supervision. While chat hosts regularly observe the dialog in some chat rooms in an effort to police conversations and evict offensive individuals, personal messages sent between users (such as electronic mail or text messages) are viewable only by the sender and the recipient, thereby outside the regulatory reach of such authorities. In addition, when teenagers know more about computers and cellular phones than their parents or guardians, they are therefore able to operate the technologies without concern that a parent will discover their experience with bullying (whether as a victim or offender).

Another factor is the inseparability of a cellular phone from its owner, making that person a perpetual target for victimization. Users often need to keep their phone turned on for legitimate purposes, which provides the opportunity for those with malicious intentions to engage in persistent unwelcome behavior such as harassing telephone calls or threatening and insulting statements via the cellular phone’s text messaging capabilities. Cyberbullying thus penetrates the walls of a home, traditionally a place where victims could seek refuge from other forms of bullying. Compounding this infiltration into the home life of the cyberbully victim is the unique way in which the internet can "create simultaneous sensations of exposure (the whole world is watching) and alienation (no one understands)."[13] For youth who experience shame or self-hatred, this effect is dangerous because it can lead to extreme self isolation.

One possible advantage for victims of cyberbullying over traditional bullying is that they may sometimes be able to avoid it simply by avoiding the site/chat room in question. Email addresses and phone numbers can be changed; in addition, most e-mail accounts now offer services that will automatically filter out messages from certain senders before they even reach the inbox, and phones offer similar caller ID functions.

However, this does not protect against all forms of cyberbullying; publishing of defamatory material about a person on the internet is extremely difficult to prevent and once it is posted, many people or archiving services can potentially download and copy it, at which point it is almost impossible to remove from the Internet. Some perpetrators may post victims' photos, or victims' edited photos like defaming captions or pasting victims' faces on nude bodies. Examples of famous forums for disclosing personal data or photos to "punish" the "enemies" include the Hong Kong Golden Forum, Live Journal, and more recently JuicyCampus. Despite policies that describe cyberbullying as a violation of the terms of service, many social networking Web sites have been used to that end.[14]

Methods used

Manuals to educate the public, teachers and parents summarize, "Cyberbullying is being cruel to others by sending or posting harmful material using a cell phone or the internet." Research, legislation and education in the field are ongoing. Basic definitions and guidelines to help recognize and cope with what is regarded as abuse of electronic communications have been identified.

  • Cyberbullying involves repeated behavior with intent to harm and repeated nature
  • Cyberbullying is perpetrated through Harassment, Cyberstalking, Denigration (sending or posting cruel rumors and falsehoods to damage reputation and friendships), Impersonation, Exclusion (intentionally and cruelly excluding someone from an online group)[15]

Cyberbullying can be as simple as continuing to send e-mails or text messages harassing someone who has said they want no further contact with the sender. It may also include public actions such as repeated threats, sexual remarks, pejorative labels (i.e., hate speech) or defamatory false accusations), ganging up on a victim by making the person the subject of ridicule in online forums, hacking into or vandalizing sites about a person, and posting false statements as fact aimed a discrediting or humiliating a targeted person.[16] Cyberbullying could be limited to posting rumors about a person on the internet with the intention of bringing about hatred in others' minds or convincing others to dislike or participate in online denigration of a target. It may go to the extent of personally identifying victims of crime and publishing materials severely defaming or humiliating them.[5]

Cyberbullies may disclose victims' personal data (e.g. real name, home address, or workplace/schools) at websites or forums or may use impersonation, creating fake accounts, comments or sites posing as their target for the purpose of publishing material in their name that defames, discredits or ridicules them. This can leave the cyberbully anonymous which can make it difficult for the offender to be caught or punished for their behavior. Though, not all cyberbullies use anonymity. Text or instant messages and emails between friends can also be cyberbullying if what is said or displayed is hurtful to the participants.

Some cyberbullies may also send threatening and harassing emails, instant messages or texts to the victims. Others post rumors or gossip and instigate others to dislike and gang up on the target.

Cyberbullying by email from a fictional friend@hotmail.com

The recent use of mobile applications and rise of smartphones have yielded to a more accessible form of cyberbullying. It is expected that cyberbullying via these platforms will be associated with bullying via mobile phones to a greater extent than exclusively through other more stationary internet platforms. In addition, the combination of cameras and Internet access and the instant availability of these modern smartphone technologies yield themselves to specific types of cyberbullying not found in other platforms. It is likely that those cyberbullied via mobile devices will experience a wider range of cyberbullying types than those exclusively bullied elsewhere.[17]

In social media

Cyberbullying can take place on social media sites such as Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter. “By 2008, 93% of young people between the ages of 12 and 17 were online. In fact, youth spend more time with media than any single other activity besides sleeping.”[18] There are many risks attached to social media cites, and cyberbullying is one of the larger risks. One million children were harassed, threatened or subjected to other forms of cyberbullying on Facebook during the past year, while 90% of social media-using teens who have witnessed online cruelty say they have ignored mean behavior on social media, and 35% have done this frequently. 95% of social media-using teens who have witnessed cruel behavior on social networking sites say they have seen others ignoring the mean behavior, and 55% witness this frequently.[19] ”The most recent case of cyber-bullying and illegal activity on Facebook involved a memorial page for the young boys who lost their lives to suicide due to anti-gay bullying. The page quickly turned into a virtual grave desecration and platform condoning gay teen suicide and the murdering of homosexuals. Photos were posted of executed homosexuals, desecrated photos of the boys who died and supposed snuff photos of gays who have been murdered. Along with this were thousands of comments encouraging murder sprees against gays, encouragement of gay teen suicide, death threats etc. In addition, the page continually exhibited pornography to minors.”[20]

In gaming

Sexual harassment as a form of Cyberbullying is common in Video game culture.[21] A study by the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology suggests that this harassment is due in part to the portrayal of women in video games.[21] This harassment generally involves slurs directed towards women, sex role stereotyping, and overaggressive language.[22]

In one case, in which Capcom sponsored an internet streamed reality show pitting fighting game experts against each other for a prize of $25,000, one female gamer forfeited a match due to intense harassment.[23] The coach of the opposing team, Aris Bakhtanians, stated, "The sexual harassment is part of the culture. If you remove that from the fighting game community, it's not the fighting game community… it doesn't make sense to have that attitude. These things have been established for years."[23]

A study from National Sun Yat-sen University observed that children who enjoyed violent video games were far more likely to both experience and perpetrate cyberbullying.[24]

Law enforcement: cyberbullying, cyberstalking and electronic harassment

A majority of states have laws that explicitly include electronic forms of communication within stalking or harassment laws.[25][26]

Most law enforcement agencies have cyber-crime units and often Internet stalking is treated with more seriousness than reports of physical stalking.[27] Help and resources can be searched by state or area.

Schools

The safety of schools is increasingly becoming a focus of state legislative action. There was an increase in cyberbullying enacted legislation between 2006–2010.[28] Initiatives and curriclulum requirements also exist in the UK (the Ofsted eSafety guidance) and Australia (Overarching Learning Outcome 13). In 2012, a group of teens in New Haven, Connecticut developed an app to help fight bullying. Called "Back Off Bully" (BOB), the web app is an anonymous resource for computer, smart phone or iPad. When someone witnesses or is the victim of bullying, they can immediately report the incident. The app asks questions about time, location and how the bullying is happening. As well as providing positive action and empowerment over an incident, the reported information helps by going to a data base where administrators study it. Common threads are spotted so others can intervene and break the bully's pattern.[29] BOB, the brainchild of fourteen teens in a design class, is being considered as standard operating procedure at schools across the state.

Protection for victims of any age

There are laws that only address online harassment of children or focus on child predators as well as laws that protect adult cyberstalking victims, or victims of any age. Currently, there are 45 cyberstalking (and related) laws on the books.

While some sites specialize in laws that protect victims age 18 and under, Working to Halt Online Abuse is a help resource containing a list of current and pending cyberstalking-related United States federal and state laws.[30] It also lists those states that do not have laws yet and related laws from other countries. The Global Cyber Law Database (GCLD) aims to become the most comprehensive and authoritative source of cyber laws for all countries.[31]

Children and adolescents

Kids report being mean to each other online beginning as young as 2nd grade. According to research, boys initiate mean online activity earlier than girls do. However, by middle school, girls are more likely to engage in cyberbullying than boys.[32] Whether the bully is male or female, his or her purpose is to intentionally embarrass others, harass, intimidate, or make threats online to one another. This bullying occurs via email, text messaging, posts to blogs, and web sites.

The National Crime Prevention Association lists tactics often used by teen cyberbullies.[33]

  • Pretend they are other people online to trick others
  • Spread lies and rumors about victims
  • Trick people into revealing personal information
  • Send or forward mean text messages
  • Post pictures of victims without their consent

Studies in the psychosocial effects of cyberspace have begun to monitor the impacts cyberbullying may have on the victims, and the consequences it may lead to. Consequences of cyberbullying are multi-faceted, and affect online and offline behavior. Research on adolescents reported that changes in the victims' behavior as a result of cyberbullying could be positive. Victims "created a cognitive pattern of bullies, which consequently helped them to recognize aggressive people."[34] However, the Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace abstract reports critical impacts in almost all of the respondents’, taking the form of lower self-esteem, loneliness, disillusionment, and distrust of people. The more extreme impacts were self-harm. Children have killed each other and committed suicide after having been involved in a cyberbullying incident.[35]

The most current research in the field defines cyberbullying as "an aggressive, intentional act or behaviour that is carried out by a group or an individual repeatedly and over time against a victim who cannot easily defend him or herself" (Smith & Slonje, 2007, p. 249).[34] Though the use of sexual remarks and threats are sometimes present in cyberbullying, it is not the same as sexual harassment, typically occurs among peers, and does not necessarily involve sexual predators.

Some cases of digital self-harm have been reported, where an individual engages in cyberbullying against themselves.[36][37]

Adults

Stalking online has criminal consequences just as physical stalking. A target's understanding of why cyberstalking is happening is helpful to remedy and take protective action to restore remedy. Cyberstalking is an extension of physical stalking.[38] Among factors that motivate stalkers are: envy, pathological obsession (professional or sexual), unemployment or failure with own job or life; intention to intimidate and cause others to feel inferior; the stalker is delusional and believes he/she "knows" the target; the stalker wants to instill fear in a person to justify his/her status; belief they can get away with it (anonymity).[39] UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line theorizes that bullies harass victims in order to make up for inadequacies in their own lives.[40]

The US federal cyberstalking law is designed to prosecute people for using electronic means to repeatedly harass or threaten someone online. There are resources dedicated to assisting adult victims deal with cyberbullies legally and effectively. One of the steps recommended is to record everything and contact police.[41][42]

Research

Australia

The nation-wide Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Survey (Cross et al., 2009)[43] assessed cyber-bullying experiences among 7,418 students. Rates of cyber-bullying increased with age, with 4.9% of students in Year 4 reporting cyberbullying compared to 7.9% in year nine. Cross et al., (2009) reported that rates of bullying and harassing others were lower, but also increased with age. Only 1.2% of Year 4 students reported cyber-bullying others compared to 5.6% of Year 9 students.

Canada

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
  • Fully 41% did not know the identity of the perpetrators.

European Union

Across Europe the average 6% of the children (9–16 years old) have been bullied and only 3% of them confessed to be a bully.[44] (Hasebrink et al., 2011). However in an earlier publication of Hasenbrink et al. (2009), reporting on the results from a meta analysis from European Union countries, the authors estimated (via median results) that approximately 18% of European young people had been "bullied/harassed/stalked" via the internet and mobile phones.[45] Cyber-harassment rates for young people across the EU member states ranged from 10% to 52%. The decreasing numbers can caused by developing increasingly specific methods, dividing the tasks into different variables.

Finland

In addition to the current research, Sourander et al. (2010) conducted a population-based cross-sectional study that took place in Finland. The authors of this study took the self-reports of 2215 Finish adolescents between the ages of 13 to 16 years old about cyberbullying and cybervictimization during the past 6 months. It was found that, amongst the total sample, 4.8% were cybervictims only, 7.4% were cyberbullies only, and 5.4% were cyberbully-victims. Cybervictim-only status was associated with a variety of factors, including emotional and peer problems, sleeping difficulties, and feeling unsafe in school. Cyberbully-only status was associated with factors such as hyperactivity and low prosocial behavior, as well as conduct problems. Cyberbully-victim status was associated with all of the risk factors that were associated with both cybervictim-only status and cyberbully-only status. The authors of this study were able to conclude that cyberbullying as well as cybervictimization is associated not only with psychiatric issues, but psychosomatic issues. Many adolescents in the study reported headaches or difficulty sleeping. The authors believe that their results indicate a greater need for new ideas on how to prevent cyberbullying and what to do when it occurs. It is clearly a world-wide problem that needs to be taken seriously.[46]

Japan

According to recent research, in Japan, 17% (compared with a 25 country average of 37%) of youth between the ages of 8-17 have been victim to online bullying activities. The number shows that online bullying is a serious concern in Japan. Teenagers who spend more than 10 hours a week on Internet are more likely to become the target of online bullying. Only 28 percent of the survey participants understand what is cyber bullying is. However, they do notice the severity of the issue since 63 percent of the surveyed worry about being targeted as victims cyber bullying.[47]

With the advance of the Internet technology, everyone can access the internet. Since teenagers find themselves congregating socially on the internet via social media, they become easy targets for cyber bullying. Forms of social media where cyber bullying occurs include but are not limited to email, text, chat rooms, mobile phones, mobile phone cameras and social websites (Facebook, Twitter). The ways a cyber bully potentially attacks a target include sending threatening email, forwarding targets’ private contact number of email to Internet, sending numerous anonymous email to the target to harass them, talking about the target in chat room or text. Some bullies even set up websites or blogs to post the target’s images, publicize their personal information, gossip about the target, express why they hate the target, request people to agree with the bully’s view, and of course sending links to the target to make sure the watched it.[48]

Much of cyber bullying is an act of relational aggression, which involves alienating the victim from his or her peers through gossip or ostracism.[49] This kind of attack can be easily launched via texting or other online activities. Here is an example of a 19 year-old teenager sharing his real experience of cyber bullying. When he was in high school, his classmates posted his photo online and insult him constantly. Moreover, his schoolmates kept asking him to die. Because of the constant harassment, he did attempt suicide twice. Even when he quit school, the attacks did not stop.[50]

Cyber bullying will cause serious psychological impact to the victims. They often feel anxious, nervous, tired, depressed and languid. Other signs of negative psychological trauma include losing confidence from being socially isolated from their schoolmates or friends. Mental psychological problems can also show up in headaches, skin problems, abdominal pain, sleep problems, bed-wetting, and crying. It may also lead them to commit suicide because they don't want to being bullied anymore.[51]

United States

2000

A survey by the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire in 2000 found that 6% of the young people in the survey had experienced some form of harassment including threats and negative rumours and 2% had suffered distressing harassment.[52]

2004

In September 2006, ABC News[53] reported on a 2004 survey of 1,500 students between grades 4–8 which found:

  • 42% of kids have been bullied while online. One in four have had it happen more than once.
  • 35% of kids have been threatened online. Nearly one in five had had it happen more than once.
  • 21% of kids have received mean or threatening e-mails or other messages.
  • 58% of kids admit someone has said mean or 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 mean or hurtful that happened to them online.

2005

The Youth Internet Safety Survey-2, conducted by the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire in 2005, found that 9% of the young people in the survey had experienced some form of harassment.[52] The survey was a nationally representative telephone survey of 1,500 youth 10–17 years old. One third reported feeling distressed by the incident, with distress being more likely for younger respondents and those who were the victims of aggressive harassment (including being telephoned, sent gifts, or visited at home by the harasser).[54] Compared to youth not harassed online, victims are more likely to have social problems. On the other hand, youth who harass others are more likely to have problems with rule breaking and aggression.[55] Significant overlap is seen — youth who are harassed are significantly more likely to also harass others.

Hinduja and Patchin completed a study in the summer of 2005 of approximately 1,500 Internet-using adolescents and found that over one-third of youth reported being victimized online, and over 16% of respondents admitted to cyber-bullying others.[56] While most of the instances of cyber-bullying involved relatively minor behavior (41% were disrespected, 19% were called names), over 12% were physically threatened and about 5% were scared for their safety. Notably, fewer than 15% of victims told an adult about the incident.[57]

Additional research by Hinduja and Patchin in 2007[58] found that youth who report being victims of cyber-bullying also experience stress or strain that is related to offline problem behaviors such as running away from home, cheating on a school test, skipping school, or using alcohol or marijuana. The authors acknowledge that both of these studies provide only preliminary information about the nature and consequences of online bullying, due to the methodological challenges associated with an online survey.

According to a 2005 survey by the National Children's Home charity and Tesco Mobile[59] of 770 youth between the ages of 11 and 19, 20% of respondents revealed that they had been bullied via electronic means. Almost three-quarters (73%) stated that they knew the bully, while 26% stated that the offender was a stranger. 10% of responders indicated that another person has taken a picture and/or video of them via a cellular phone camera, consequently making them feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, or threatened. Many youths are not comfortable telling an authority figure about their cyber-bullying victimization for fear their access to technology will be taken from them; while 24% and 14% told a parent or teacher respectively, 28% did not tell anyone while 41% told a friend.[59]

2007

In 2007, Debbie Heimowitz, a Stanford University master's student, created Adina's Deck, a film based on Stanford accredited research. She worked in focus groups for ten weeks in three schools to learn about the problem of cyber-bullying in Northern California. The findings determined that over 60% of students had been cyber-bullied and were victims of cyber-bullying. The film is now being used in classrooms nationwide as it was designed around learning goals pertaining to problems that students had understanding the topic. The middle school of Megan Meier is reportedly using the film as a solution to the crisis in their town.

2008

In the summer of 2008, researchers Sameer Hinduja (Florida Atlantic University) and Justin Patchin (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire) published a book on cyber-bullying that summarized the current state of cyber-bullying research. (Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying).[60] Their research documents that cyber-bullying instances have been increasing over the last several years. They also report findings from the most recent study of cyber-bullying among middle-school students. Using a random sample of approximately 2000 middle-school students from a large school district in the southern United States, about 10% of respondents had been cyber-bullied in the previous 30 days while over 17% reported being cyber-bullied at least once in their lifetime.[60] While these rates are slightly lower than some of the findings from their previous research, Hinduja and Patchin point out that the earlier studies were predominantly conducted among older adolescents and Internet samples. That is, older youth use the Internet more frequently and are more likely to experience cyber-bullying than younger children.[12][57][58]

2011

Distribution of cyberbullying venues used by young people in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control

The National Crime Prevention Council reported in 2011 that cyber-bullying is a problem that affects almost half of all American teens.[61]

Legislation Against cyberbullying

United States

Legislation geared at penalizing cyberbullying has been introduced in a number of U.S. states including New York, Missouri, Rhode Island and Maryland. At least forty five states passed laws against digital harassment.[62] Dardenne Prairie of Springfield, Missouri, passed a city ordinance making online harassment a misdemeanor. The city of St. Charles, Missouri has passed a similar ordinance. Missouri is among other states where lawmakers are pursuing state legislation, with a task forces expected to have “cyberbullying” laws drafted and implemented.[63] In June, 2008, Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) and Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R-Mo.) proposed a federal law that would criminalize acts of cyberbullying.[64]

Lawmakers are seeking to address cyberbullying with new legislation because there's currently no specific law on the books that deals with it. A fairly new federal cyberstalking law might address such acts, according to Parry Aftab, but no one has been prosecuted under it yet. The proposed federal law would make it illegal to use electronic means to "coerce, intimidate, harass or cause other substantial emotional distress."

In August 2008, the California state legislature passed one of the first laws in the country to deal directly with cyberbullying. The legislation, Assembly Bill 86 2008, gives school administrators the authority to discipline students for bullying others offline or online.[65] This law took effect, January 1, 2009.[66]

A recent ruling first seen in the UK determined that it is possible for an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to be liable for the content of sites which it hosts, setting a precedent that any ISP should treat a notice of complaint seriously and investigate it immediately.[67]

18 U.S.C. § 875(c) criminalizes the making of threats via Internet.

Research on preventative legislation

Researchers suggest that programs be put in place for prevention of cyberbullying. These programs would be incorporated into school curricula and would include online safety and instruction on how to use the Internet properly.[68] This could teach the victim proper methods of potentially avoiding the cyberbully, such as blocking messages or increasing the security on their computer.[68]

Within this suggested school prevention model, even in a perfect world, not one crime can be stopped fully. That is why it is suggested that within this prevention method, effective coping strategies should be introduced and adopted. As with any crime, people learn to cope with what has happened, and the same goes for cyberbullying. People can adopt coping strategies to combat future cyberbullying events. An example of a coping strategy would be a social support group composed of various victims of cyberbullying.[68] That could come together and share experiences, with a formal speaker leading the discussion. Something like a support group can allow students to share their stories, and allows that feeling of them being alone to be removed.

Teachers should be involved in all prevention educational models, as they are essentially the "police" of the classroom. Most cyberbullying often goes unreported as the victim feels nothing can be done to help in their current situation.[68] However, if given the proper tools with preventative measures and more power in the classroom, teachers can be of assistance to the problem of cyber-bullying. If the parent, teacher, and victim can work together, a possible solution or remedy can be found.[68]

There have been many legislative attempts to facilitate the control of bullying and cyberbullying. The problem is due to the fact that some existing legislation is incorrectly thought to be tied to bullying and cyberbullying (terms such as libel and slander). The problem is they do not directly apply to it nor define it as its own criminal behavior.[69] Anti-cyberbullying advocates even expressed concern about the broad scope of applicability of some of the bills attempted to be passed.[70]

In the United States, attempts were made to pass legislation against cyberbullying. Few states attempted to pass broad sanctions in an effort to prohibit cyberbullying. Problem include how to define cyberbullying and cyberstalking, and if charges are pressed, whether it violates the bully's freedom of speech.[70] B. Walther has said that "Illinois is the only state to criminalize 'electronic communication(s) sent for the purpose of harassing another person' when the activity takes place outside a public school setting." Again this came under fire for infringement on freedom of speech.[70]

Harmful effects

Research had demonstrated a number of serious consequences of cyberbullying victimization.[12][57][58][60] For example, victims have lower self-esteem, increased suicidal ideation, and a variety of emotional responses, retaliating, being scared, frustrated, angry, and depressed.[60] People have reported that Cyberbullying can be more harmful than traditional bullying because there is no escaping it.[71]

One of the most damaging effects is that a victim begins to avoid friends and activities, often the very intention of the cyberbully.

Cyberbullying campaigns are sometimes so damaging that victims have committed suicide. There are at least four examples in the United States where cyberbullying has been linked to the suicide of a teenager.[60] The suicide of Megan Meier is a recent example that led to the conviction of the adult perpetrator of the attacks.

According to Lucie Russell, director of campaigns, policy and participation at youth mental health charity Young Minds, young people who suffer from mental disorder are vulnerable to cyberbullying as they are sometimes unable to shrug it off:

When someone says nasty things healthy people can filter that out, they're able to put a block between that and their self-esteem. But mentally unwell people don't have the strength and the self-esteem to do that, to separate it, and so it gets compiled with everything else. To them, it becomes the absolute truth – there's no filter, there's no block. That person will take that on, take it as fact.[72]

Social media has allowed bullies to disconnect from the impact they may be having on others.[73]

Intimidation, emotional damage, suicide

According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, "there have been several high‐profile cases involving teenagers taking their own lives in part because of being harassed and mistreated over the Internet, a phenomenon we have termed cyberbullicide – suicide indirectly or directly influenced by experiences with online aggression."

Cyberbullying is an intense form of psychological abuse, whose victims are more than twice as likely to suffer from mental disorders compared to traditional bullying.[74]

The reluctance youth have in telling an authority figure about instances of cyberbullying has led to fatal outcomes. At least three children between the ages of 12 and 13 have committed suicide due to depression brought on by cyberbullying, according to reports by USA Today and the Baltimore Examiner. These would include the suicide of Ryan Halligan and the suicide of Megan Meier, the latter of which resulted in United States v. Lori Drew.

More recently, teenage suicides tied to cyberbullying have become more prevalent. The latest victim of cyberbullying through the use of mobile applications was Rebecca Ann Sedwick, who committed suicide after being terrorized through mobile applications such as Ask.fm, Kik Messenger and Voxer.[75]

Adults and the workplace

Cyberbullying is not limited to personal attacks or children. Cyberharassment, referred to as cyberstalking when involving adults, takes place in the workplace or on company web sites, blogs or product reviews.

Cyberbullying can occur in product reviews along with other consumer-generated data are being more closely monitored and flagged for content that is deemed malicious and biased as these sites have become tools to cyberbully by way of malicious requests for deletion of articles, vandalism, abuse of administrative positions, and ganging up on products to post "false" reviews and vote products down.

Cyberstalkers use posts, forums, journals and other online means to present a victim in a false and unflattering light. The question of liability for harassment and character assassination is particularly salient to legislative protection since the original authors of the offending material are, more often than not, not only anonymous, but untraceable. Nevertheless, abuse should be consistently brought to company staffers' attention.

Recognition of adult and workplace cyberbullying tactics

Common tactics used by cyberstalkers is to vandalize a search engine or encyclopedia, to threaten a victim's earnings, employment, reputation, or safety. Various companies provide cases of cyber-stalking (involving adults) follow the pattern of repeated actions against a target. While motives vary, whether romantic, a business conflict of interest, or personal dislike, the target is commonly someone whose life the stalker sees or senses elements lacking in his or her own life. Web-based products or services leveraged against cyberstalkers in the harassment or defamation of their victims.

The source of the defamation seems to come from four types of online information purveyors: Weblogs, industry forums or boards, and commercial Web sites. Studies reveal that while some motives are personal dislike, there is often direct economic motivation by the cyberstalker, including conflict of interest, and investigations reveal the responsible party is an affiliate or supplier of a competitor, or the competitor itself.

Global Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is not necessarily confined to a particular location or even to a region. Climate scientists and climate activists, for example, may be confronted with abusive emails from any location in the world. These emails may be responses to public statements that merely report the widely accepted findings of climate science and their implications for the future production of greenhouse gases by humans and for the survival of future generations. Such emails may be sent in response to suggestions posted on climate denial websites, which are effectively requests to engage in cyberbullying. Climate scientists and climate activists may also be confronted with libelous internet reports that aim to silence them or destroy their reputations.[76][77][78]

Awareness

Campaigns

International

The Cybersmile Foundation is a multi award-winning cyberbullying charity committed to tackling all forms of online bullying, abuse and hate campaigns. The charity was founded in 2010 in response to the increasing number of cyberbullying related incidents of depression, eating disorders, social isolation, self-harm and suicides devastating lives around the world. Cybersmile provides support to victims and their friends and families through social media interaction, email and helpline support. They also run an annual event, Stop Cyberbullying Day, to draw attention to the issue on the third Friday of June. The next Stop Cyberbullying Day falls on 20 June 2014.

Spain

There are multiple non-profit organizations that fight cyberbullying and cyberstalking. They advise victims, provide awareness campaigns, and report offenses to the police. These NGOs include the Protégeles, PantallasAmigas, Foundation Alia2, the non-profit initiative Actúa Contra el Ciberacoso, the National Communications Technology Institute (INTECO), the Agency of Internet quality, the Agencia Española de Protección de Datos, the Oficina de Seguridad del Internauta, the Spanish Internet users' Association, the Internauts' Association, and the Spanish Association of Mothers and Parents Internauts. The Government of Castile and León has also created a Plan de Prevención del Ciberacoso y Promoción de la Navegación Segura en Centro Escolares, and the Government of the Canary Islands has created a portal on the phenomenon called Viveinternet.

United States

In March 2007, the Advertising Council in the United States, in partnership with the National Crime Prevention Council, U.S. Department of Justice, and Crime Prevention Coalition of America, joined to announce the launch of a new public service advertising campaign designed to educate preteens and teens about how they can play a role in ending cyber-bullying.

A Pew Internet and American Life survey found that 33% of teens were subject to some sort of cyber-bullying.

January 20, 2008 – the Boy Scouts of America's 2008 edition of The Boy Scout Handbook addresses how to deal with online bullying. A new First Class rank requirements adds: "Describe the three things you should avoid doing related to use of the Internet. Describe a cyberbully and how you should respond to one." [79] [80]

January 31, 2008 – KTTV Fox 11 News based in Los Angeles put out a report about organized cyber-bullying on sites like Stickam by people who call themselves "/b/rothas".[81] The site had put out report on July 26, 2007, about a subject that partly featured cyberbullying titled "hackers on steroids".[82]

June 2, 2008 – Parents, teens, teachers, and Internet executives came together at Wired Safety's International Stop Cyberbullying Conference, a two-day gathering in White Plains, New York and New York City. Executives from Facebook, Verizon, MySpace, Microsoft, and many others talked with hundreds about how to better protect themselves, personal reputations, kids and businesses online from harassment. Sponsors of the conference included McAfee, AOL, Disney, Procter & Gamble, Girl Scouts of the USA, WiredTrust, Children’s Safety Research and Innovation Centre, KidZui.com and others. This conference was being delivered in conjunction and with the support of Pace University. Topics addressed included cyberbullying and the law, with discussions about laws governing cyberbullying and how to distinguish between rudeness and criminal harassment. Additional forums addressed parents’ legal responsibilities, the need for more laws, how to handle violent postings of videos be handled, as well as the differentiation between free speech and hate speech. Cyberharassment vs. cyberbullying was a forefront topic, where age makes a difference and abusive internet behavior by adults with repeated clear intent to harm, ridicule or damage a person or business was classified as stalking harassment vs. bullying by teens and young adults.[83]

August 2012 – A new organized movement to make revenge porn illegal began in August 2012. It is known as End Revenge Porn [4]. Currently revenge porn is only illegal in two states, but the demand for its criminalization is on the rise as digital technology has increased in the past few generations. The organization seeks to provide support for victims, educate the public, and gain activist support to bring new legislation before the United States Government.[84]

Canada

Originated in Canada, Anti-Bullying day is a day of celebration for those who choose to participate wearing a symbol of colours (Pink, Blue or Purple) as a stance against bullying. A B.C. teacher founded the Stop A Bully movement, which uses pink wristbands to represent the wearer's stance to stop bullying.

Pink Shirt Day was inspired by David Shepherd and Travis Price. Their high school friends organized a protest in sympathy for a Grade 9 boy who was bullied for wearing a pink shirt. Their stance from wearing pink has been a huge inspiration in the Great Vancouver Mainland. "We know that victims of bullying, witnesses of bullying and bullies themselves all experience the very real and long term negative impacts of bullying regardless of its forms - physical, verbal, written, or on-line (cyberbullying)".

The ERASE (Expect Respect and A Safe Education) is an initiative started by the province of British Columbia to foster safe schools and prevent bullying. It builds on already-effective programs set up by the provincial government to ensure consistent policies and practices regarding the prevention of bullying.

Growing awareness

Cyberbullying has subsequently been defined 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".[85] Other researchers use similar language to describe the phenomenon.[12][86]

Community support

A number organizations are in coalition to provide awareness, protection and recourse for the escalating problem. Some aim to inform and provide measures to avoid as well as effectively terminate cyberbullying and cyberharassment. Anti-bullying charity Act Against Bullying launched the CyberKind campaign in August 2009 to promote positive internet usage.

In 2007, YouTube introduced the first Anti-Bullying Channel for youth, (BeatBullying) engaging the assistance of celebrities to tackle the problem.[87]

In March 2010, a 17-year old girl named Alexis Skye Pilkington was found dead in her room by her parents. Her parents claimed that after repeated cyberbullying, she was driven to suicide. Shortly after her death, attacks resumed. Members of eBaums World began to troll teens' memorial pages on Facebook, with the comments including expressions of pleasure over the death, with pictures of what seemed to be a banana as their profile pictures. Family and friends of the deceased teen responded by creating Facebook groups denouncing cyberbullying and trolling, with logos of bananas behind a red circle with a diagonal line through it.[88]

In response and partnership to the 2011 film Bully, a grassroots effort to stop cyberbullying called The Bully Project was created. Their goal is “sparked a national movement to stop bullying that is transforming kids’ lives and changing a culture of bullying into one of empathy and action.”[89]

In media and pop culture

  • Adina's Deck— a film about three 8th-graders who help their friend who's been cyberbullied.
  • Let's Fight It Together— a film produced by Childnet International to be used in schools to support discussion and awareness-raising around cyberbullying.
  • Odd Girl Out— a film about a girl who is bullied at school and online.
  • At a Distance— a short film produced by NetSafe for the 8-12-year-old audience. It highlights forms and effects of cyberbullying and the importance of bystanders.
  • Cyberbully— a TV movie broadcast July 17, 2011 on ABC Family.It depicts a teenage girl who is subjected to a campaign of bullying through a social networking site.[90]
  • The Casual Vacancy – a young girl is subjected to harassing images repeatedly posted on her Facebook page.
  • The Truth about Truman School, a 2008 children's book about a middle school girl who is cyberbullied by one of her classmates
  • Chatroom, a 2010 British thriller film directed by Hideo Nakata about five teenagers who meet on the internet and encourage each other's bad behaviour.

See also

References

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Further reading

  • Berson, I. R., Berson, M. J., & Ferron, J. M.(2002). Emerging risks of violence in the digital age: Lessons for educators from an online study of adolescent girls in the United States.Journal of School Violence, 1(2), 51–71.
  • Burgess-Proctor, A., Patchin, J. W., & Hinduja, S. (2009). Cyberbullying and online harassment: Reconceptualizing the victimization of adolescent girls. In V. Garcia and J. Clifford [Eds.]. Female crime victims: Reality reconsidered. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. In Print.
  • Keith, S. & Martin, M. E. (2005). Cyber-bullying: Creating a Culture of Respect in a Cyber World. Reclaiming Children & Youth, 13(4), 224–228.
  • Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J. W. (2007). Offline Consequences of Online Victimization: School Violence and Delinquency. Journal of School Violence, 6(3), 89–112.
  • Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J. W. (2008). Cyberbullying: An Exploratory Analysis of Factors Related to Offending and Victimization. Deviant Behavior, 29(2), 129–156.
  • Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J. W. (2009). Bullying beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Patchin, J. & Hinduja, S. (2006). Bullies Move beyond the Schoolyard: A Preliminary Look at Cyberbullying. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice', 4(2), 148–169.
  • Tettegah, S. Y., Betout, D., & Taylor, K. R. (2006). Cyber-bullying and schools in an electronic era. In S. Tettegah & R. Hunter (Eds.) Technology and Education: Issues in administration, policy and applications in k12 school. PP. 17–28. London: Elsevier.
  • Wolak, J. Mitchell, K.J., & Finkelhor, D. (2006). Online victimization of youth: 5 years later. Alexandria, VA: National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Available at unh.edu
  • Ybarra, M. L. & Mitchell, J. K. (2004). Online aggressor/targets, aggressors and targets: A comparison of associated youth characteristics. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45, 1308–1316.
  • Ybarra ML (2004). Linkages between depressive symptomatology and Internet harassment among young regular Internet users. Cyberpsychol and Behavior. Apr;7(2):247-57.
  • Ybarra ML, Mitchell KJ (2004). Youth engaging in online harassment: associations with caregiver-child relationships, Internet use, and personal characteristics. Journal of Adolescence. Jun;27(3):319-36.
  • Frederick S. Lane, (Chicago: NTI Upstream, 2011)

External links