Cyberbullying is the act of harming or harassing via information technology networks in a repeated and deliberate manner. 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."
With the increased use of communication technology, cyberbullying has become increasingly common, especially among teenagers. Awareness has also risen, due in part to high-profile cases like the suicide of Tyler Clementi.
- 1 Distinctions
- 2 Methods used
- 3 Law enforcement
- 4 Research
- 5 Legislation
- 6 European Union
- 7 Harmful effects
- 8 Awareness
- 9 Victims/Cases United States
- 10 In media and pop culture
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
Cyberbullying is defined in legal glossaries[which?] 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.
Cyberbullying can be seen as being distinct from other forms of online behaviour. Some see cyber-bullying as a form of Cyberstalking, which involves taking a more strategic approach than in the moment Internet trolling.
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."
A cyberbully may or may not know their target. A cyberbully may be anonymous and may solicit involvement of other people online who do not know the target. This is known as a "digital pile-on."
Cyberbullying has 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". Other researchers use similar language to describe the phenomenon.
Cyberbullying vs. 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. 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. The differences between cyberbullying and cyberstalking have been expressed in a Trolling Magnitude (TM) Scale, showing cyberbullying is more strategic and cyberstalking is more about domination.
|1||Playtime||Cyber-bantering||Cyber-trolling||In the moment and quickly regret|
|2||Tactical||Cyber-trickery||Cyber-trolling||In the moment but don’t regret and continue|
|3||Strategic||Cyber-bullying||Cyber-stalking||Go out of way to cause problems, but without a sustained and planned long-term campaign|
|4||Domination||Cyber-hickery||Cyber-stalking||Goes out of the way to create rich media to target one or more specific individuals|
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. 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 cyberstalkers can be put in jail. Cyberstalking is a form of cyberbullying.
Cyberbully vs. Troll
Trolls and cyberbullies have totally different goal. Internet trolls seek attention, and they shift attention from the author’s content to themselves. The more attentions they get, such as comments directing to them, the happier they are. Internet trolls tend to revisit the website they got attention. On the other hand, cyberbullies want to demean and hurt their victims. People can also get hurt by trolling but the internet trolls do not care if their comments caused emotional distress or not; however, cyberbullies want the victims to struggle and have emotional distress by their comments or behavior.
Certain characteristics inherent in online technologies increase the likelihood that they will be exploited for deviant purposes. 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 falling 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)." 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 email 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 featuring 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, Livejournal, 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.
Cyberbullying is sometimes used by the targets of bullying to retaliate against their bullies, since factors such as anonymity, absence of the bully's supporting friends, and irrelevancy of physical strength in the online environment, make it safer to counterattack the bully by that means. Nancy E. Willard notes in Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats, "Unfortunately, students who retaliate against bullies online can be mistakenly perceived as the source of the problem. This can be especially true under circumstances where the original victimization left no tangible evidence, but the cyberbullying did."
Although cyberbullying/bullying has increased through the years, scholars have agreed that there is no universal definition of bullying. Although researchers disagree about how to define and address bullying, the most commonly accepted definition comes from Swedish psychologist Dan Olweus. Olweus argues that the following components must be involved in order for it to be bullying; aggression, repetition, and imbalance in power.
Author Danah Boyd writes, "those who subscribe to Olweus’ definition view bullying as a practice in which someone of differential physical or social power subjects another person to repeated psychological, physical, or social aggression."
Even though Olweus’ definition is accepted, there are others who believe that the media does not categorize events appropriately. For example, "news media has taken to describing serious criminal acts of aggression by teens as bullying rather than using terms like stalking, harassment, or abuse. Ironically, teens often use the term bullying to refer to the kinds of incidents that Olweus described while adults and news media use this term far more loosely."
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.
- Cyberbullying is perpetrated through harassment, cyberstalking, denigration (sending or posting cruel rumors and falsehoods to damage reputation and friendships), impersonation, and exclusion (intentionally and cruelly excluding someone from an online group)
Cyberbullying can be as simple as continuing to send emails 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. 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.
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, although not all cyberbullies maintain their anonymity. Text or instant messages and emails between friends can also constitute cyberbullying if what is said or displayed is hurtful to the participants.
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.
While most cases are considered to be cyberbullying, some teens argue that most events are simply drama. For example, Danah Boyd writes, "teens regularly used that word [drama] to describe various forms of interpersonal conflict that ranged from insignificant joking around to serious jealousy-driven relational aggression. Whereas adults might have labeled many of these practices as bullying, teens saw them as drama." Drama among teens has existed for years but now that it is easier to share information through social media, it seems that simple drama gets out of control.
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." There are many risks attached to social media sites, 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 percent of social-media-using teens who have witnessed online cruelty say they have ignored mean behavior on social media, and 35 percent have done this frequently. 95 percent 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 percent witness this frequently. According to a 2013 Pew Research study, eight out of 10 teens who use social media share more information about themselves than they have in the past. This includes location, images, and contact information. "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." In order to protect children, it’s important that personal information such as age, birthday, school/church, phone number, etc. be kept confidential.
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.
Sexual harassment as a form of cyberbullying is common in video game culture. 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. This harassment generally involves slurs directed towards women, sex role stereotyping, and overaggressive language.
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. 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."
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.
In Search Engines
Information Cascade- This is one method cyberbullies used to rapidly spread information on the internet or on social media. Once the information cascades starts it is hard to stop. There are also information cascades that are harmless which is when truthful information is spread throughout the internet and social media.
Google Bomb- This method is used in relation to information cascades. Bullies use google bombs increase the eminence of favored posts sorted by the most popular searches. Google bombs can manipulate the internet’s search engine but there is a way to counteract that manipulation as well.
Most law enforcement agencies have cyber-crime units and often Internet stalking is treated with more seriousness than reports of physical stalking. Help and resources can be searched by state or area.
The safety of schools is increasingly becoming a focus of state legislative action. There was an increase in cyberbullying enacted legislation between 2006–2010. 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. BOB, the brainchild of fourteen teens in a design class, is being considered as standard operating procedure at schools across the state.
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. 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.
Children 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. 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.
- 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." 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.
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). 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.
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. 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). UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line theorizes that bullies harass victims in order to make up for inadequacies in their own lives.
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.
The nationwide Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Survey (Cross et al., 2009) 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.
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.
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. (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. 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.
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.
According to recent research, in Japan, 17 percent (compared with a 25-country average of 37 percent) of youth between the ages of 8 and 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 understood what cyberbullying is. However, they do notice the severity of the issue since 63 percent of the surveyed worry about being targeted as victims of cyberbullying.
With the advance of Internet technology, everyone can access the internet. Since teenagers find themselves congregating socially on the internet via social media, they become easy targets for cyberbullying. Forms of social media where cyberbullying occurs include but are not limited to email, text, chat rooms, mobile phones, mobile phone cameras and social websites (Facebook, Twitter). The ways a cyberbully potentially attacks a target include sending threatening email, online posting of targets' private contact information, sending numerous anonymous emails to the target to harass them, or talking about the target in chat rooms or text. Some cyberbullies 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 sending links to the target to make sure they are watching the activity.
Much cyberbullying is an act of relational aggression, which involves alienating the victim from his or her peers through gossip or ostracism. 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 cyberbullying. When he was in high school, his classmates posted his photo online, insulted him constantly, and asked him to die. Because of the constant harassment, he did attempt suicide twice. Even when he quit school, the attacks did not stop.
Cyberbullying can cause serious psychological impact to the victims. They often feel anxious, nervous, tired, and depressed. Other examples of negative psychological trauma include losing confidence as a result being socially isolated from their schoolmates or friends. Mental psychological problems can also show up in the form of headaches, skin problems, abdominal pain, sleep problems, bed-wetting, and crying. It may also lead victims to commit suicide to end bullying.
A study at Waikato University in New Zealand (Spacey, 2015) was the first to attempt to quantify the effect of the fear of cyberbullying on performance. The study was inspired by a case where the lecturer provided evidence showing Waikato University and the TEU union had supported years of cyberbullying against him with the university apparently claiming the lecturer deserved to be cyberbullied for disclosing his higher than average academic achievements as their main legal defence (see also the case discussion on the OpenPAT page). Based on that cyberbullying experience, the paper proposes that at least some cyberbullying is a natural consequence of the behavioural characteristic known as crab mentality given modern social media and hypothesizes that in a country where crab mentality is an accepted cultural problem like New Zealand, young adults will try not to stand out in performance rankings where their position could be identified by others who may be envious of their achievements and express that envy through cyberbullying.
The paper provides survey results that agree with previous research in indicating that as many as 1 in 5 young adults may be cyberbulliers in some countries and provides initial quantitative results indicating that the fear of cyberbullying increases collusion (manifested as a consistent 4% reduction in performance result standard deviation) and reduces average performance by between 10 and 18%.
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.
The 2004 I-Safe.org survey of 1,500 students between grades 4 and 8 found:
- 42% of children had been bullied while online. One in four have had it happen more than once.
- 35% had been threatened online. Nearly one in five had had it happen more than once.
- 21% had received mean or threatening e-mails or other messages.
- 58% admitted that someone had said mean or hurtful things to them online. More than four out of ten said it had happened more than once.
- 58% had not told their parents or an adult about something mean or hurtful that had happened to them online.
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. 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). 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. Significant overlap is seen — youth who are harassed are significantly more likely to also harass others.
Hinduja and Patchin[who?] 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. 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.
Additional research by Hinduja and Patchin in 2007 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 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.
According to the 2006 Harris Interactive Cyberbullying Research Report, commissioned by the National Crime Prevention Council, cyber-bullying is a problem that "affects almost half of all American teens".
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.
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). 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. 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.
According to the 2011 National Crime Victimization Survey, conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS), 9% of students of ages 12–18 admittedly experienced cyberbullying during that school year (with a coefficient of variation between 30% and 50%).
In the Youth Risk Behavior Survey 2013, the Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published results of its survey as part of the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) in June 2014, indicating in table 17 the percentage of school children being bullied through e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, Web sites, or texting ("electronically bullied") during the course of the year 2013.
|Race/Ethnicity||Female||95% confidence interval||Male||95% confidence interval||Total||95% confidence interval|
|White W/O His.||25.2%||22.6%-28.0%||8.7%||7.5%-10.1%||16.9%||15.3%-18.7%|
|Black W/O His.||10.5%||8.7%-12.6%||6.9%||5.2%-9.0%||8.7%||7.3%-10.4%|
|Grade||Female||95% confidence interval||Male||95% confidence interval||Total||95% confidence interval|
In 2014, Mehari, Farrell, and Le published a study that focused on the literature on cyberbullying among adolescents. They found that researchers have generally assumed that cyberbullying is distinct from aggression perpetrated in person. They suggest that the media through which aggression is perpetrated may be best conceptualized as a new dimension on which aggression can be classified, rather than cyberbullying as a distinct counterpart to existing forms of aggression and that future research on cyberbullying should be considered within the context of theoretical and empirical knowledge of aggression in adolescence. Mary Howlett-Brandon's doctoral dissertation analyzed the National Crime Victimization Survey: Student Crime Supplement, 2009, to focus on the cyberbullying victimization of Black students and White students in specific conditions.
WalletHub's 2015’s Best & Worst States at Controlling Bullying report measured the relative levels of bullying in 42 states. According to the report, North Dakota, Illinois, Louisiana, Rhode Island, and Washington D.C. have the highest attempted suicide by high school students.The top 5 states with highest percentage of students being bullied on campus is Missouri, Michigan, Idaho, North Dakota, and Montana.
Cyberbullying on social media has usually been student-to-student but recently, students have been cyberbullying their teachers. High School students in Colorado created a Twitter site that bullies many teachers. The bullying ranges from obscenities to false accusations of inappropriate actions with students.
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. 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. In June, 2008, Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) and Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R-Mo.) proposed a federal law that would criminalize acts of cyberbullying.
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. This law took effect, January 1, 2009. A law in New York's Albany County that criminalized cyberbullying was recently struck down as unconstitutional by the New York Court of Appeals in People v. Marquan M..
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.
criminalizes the making of threats via Internet.
Since the 1990s, the United Kingdom and other European countries have been working to solve workplace bullying since there is no legislation regulating cyberbullying. The pervasive nature of technology has made the act of bullying online much easier. A 24-hour internet connection gives bullies a never ending opportunity to find and bully victims. Employers in the European Union have more legal responsibility to their employees than other countries. Since employers do not the ability to fire or hire an employee at will like in the United States, employers in Europe are held to a high standard in how their employees are treated. The Framework Agreement on Harassment and Violence at Work is a law that prevents bullying occurring in the workplace and holds employers accountable for providing fair working conditionsr. Lawyers pursuing cyberbullying cases use The Ordinance on Victimization at Work law, since they are not any laws specifically condemning cyberbullying.
In 1993, Sweden was the first European Union country to have a law against cyberbullying. The Ordinance on Victimization at Work protected victims from "recurrent reprehensible or distinctly negative actions which are directed which are directed against individual employees in an offensive manner and can result in those employees being placed outside the workplace community". In 2002, France passed the Social Modernization Law, which added consequences to the French Labor Code for cyberbullying such as holding employers accountable for their involvement in harassment. The legislation states, "the employer can be held accountable if it is deemed by court of law that the conduct defile the employee emotionally or physical health in any manner". The United Kingdom does not have anti-bullying legislation. However, it does have the Protection From Harassment Act, an anti-stalking law. The United Kingdom courts have used this legislation in bullying cases. In 2007, the European Union developed the Framework Agreement on Harassment and Violence at Work. The law defines the responsibilities of an employer such as protecting his or her employees from bullies in a work environment and the psychological pain a victim faces from bullies during business hours.
The United States and other countries have more extensive legislation on cyberbullying than the European Union. The amount of cyberbullying incidents on social media are widespread and have increased drastically. However, the process of getting a claim against a bully is not an easy one because of the victim's need to provide sufficient evidence to prove the existence of bullying.
Countries in the European Union like United Kingdom are in the process of creating law specially related to cyberbullying. Since the process takes time, the government is supporting schools programs to promote internet safety with the help of teachers and parents. This will allow government to take the time it needs to create the cyberbullying laws while helping students safeguarding themselves from cyberbullying as much as they can.
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. This could teach the victim proper methods of potentially avoiding the cyberbully, such as blocking messages or increasing the security on their computer.
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. 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. 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.
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. Anti-cyberbullying advocates even expressed concern about the broad scope of applicability of some of the bills attempted to be passed.
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. 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.
Research had demonstrated a number of serious consequences of cyberbullying victimization. For example, victims have lower self-esteem, increased suicidal ideation, and a variety of emotional responses, retaliating, being scared, frustrated, angry, and depressed. People have reported that Cyberbullying can be more harmful than traditional bullying because there is no escaping it.
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. 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.
Social media has allowed bullies to disconnect from the impact they may be having on others.
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.
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.
Effects of Cyberbullying on Youth & Teenagers
The effects of cyberbullying vary. But, research illustrates that cyber bullying adversely affects youth to a higher degree than adolescents and adults. Youth are more likely to suffer since they are still growing mentally and physically. Jennifer N. Caudle, an certified family physician, describes the effects as "Kids that are bullied are likely to experience anxiety, depression, loneliness, unhappiness and poor sleep".
Most of the time cyberbullying goes unnoticed; the younger generation hides their bullying from anyone that can help to prevent the bullying from occurring and from getting worse. Between 20% and 40% of adolescents are victims of cyberbullying worldwide. The youth slowly change their behaviors and actions so they become more withdrawn and quiet than they are used to, but no one notices since the change is subtle. The youth become more anxious and timid in all types of environments and settings. According to A Study on Primary School Students’ Being Cyber Bullies and Victims According to Gender, Grade, and Socioeconomic Status, cyberbullying victims "have psychological problems, such as lack of self-confidence, distress, disappointment, fear of school, lack of academic achievement, loneliness, anxiety, depression, and suicide. Cyberbullying will "become a serious problem in the future with an increase in the Internet and mobile phone usage among young people".
If preventive actions are not taken against cyberbullying, younger children in addition to teenagers will feel more lonely and depressed along with having a significant change in their eating and sleeping patterns as well as loss of interest in their normal activities. These changes will affect their growth and development into adulthood. Younger children and teenagers are 76.2% less likely to display suicidal behaviors and thoughts, but are still at risk depending on other factors such as mental health status, home care, relationships with others. The risk of suicide increases 35% to 45% when victims do not have any support from anyone in their life and cyberbullying amplifies the situation more.
The Cybersmile Foundation is a 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.
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.
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."
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". The site had put out report on July 26, 2007, about a subject that partly featured cyberbullying titled "hackers on steroids".
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, children 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.
August 2012 – A new organized movement to make revenge porn illegal began in August 2012. It is known as End Revenge Porn. 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.
In 2006, PACER.org created a week long event that was held once a year in October. Today, the campaign is a month long event and is now known as the National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.
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.
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.
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.
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 children's lives and changing a culture of bullying into one of empathy and action."
Victims/Cases United States
13-year-old Zoe Johnson from Wyoming, Michigan committed suicide in July 2015. Zoe had been a victim of cyberbullying for years and suffered from mild depression. It is believed that a message posted on her Facebook the day before her suicide may have been the turning point that pushed her towards suicide. After her death, people continued to post messages on her Facebook with one person posting the message "good ur gone".
14-year-old Carla Jamerson from Las Vegas, Nevada committed suicide in 2015. She was a victim of cyberbullying for years. Carla went to the both the city and school police, but did not receive any help. After not receiving any help, she hanged herself.
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.
- 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.
- Star Wars: Jedi Academy: Return of the Padawan, a 2014 book by Jeffrey Brown features cyberbullying on "Holobook," a fictionalized Star Wars version of Facebook.
- "URL, Interrupted," an episode of CSI: Cyber, featured a storyline about a girl named Zoe Tan who was watched through her computer via malware and cyberbullied with a website called "Kill Yourself Zoe Tan."
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|Library resources about
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cyberbullying.|
|Look up cyberbully in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Cyberbullying Research Center
- Cyberbullying at Stopbullying.gov
- Cyberbullying Searchable Information Center, ebrary
- Cyberbullying.org.nz – Cyberbullying information, support, and teaching resources from the New Zealand non-profit NetSafe, including the short film At a Distance
- Cyberbullying - Cyberhelp.eu, practical advises for teachers and guardians
- Cyberbullying in Australia Australian Cyberbullying resource for teenagers
- Cyberbullying - What is Cyberbullying?
- Media Smarts - Cyberbullying
- Bad Behavior Online: Bullying, Trolling & Free Speech Video produced by Off Book (web series)