Bullying has been a social problem since
the beginning of civilized men. Therefore, it is no surprise that there are
many different definitions of bullying. However, generally speaking, we can
define bullying as repeated intimidation, over time, of a physical,
verbal, and psychological nature of a less powerful person by a more powerful
person or group of people (Slee, 1996).The latter definition gives us a sense of
how intricate bullying is.
problem of bullying has always been complex and challenging. However, over the
last couple of decades, things have become more challenging with quick
development of electronic media.
While physical bullying appears to
continue, the proliferation of the use of computers, the internet, and mobile
technology has provided additional mechanisms for bullies to reach their victims
(Walker, Sockaman, & Koehn, 2011). In order to describe this new form of
bullying the term “cyberbullying” was composed.
There are also many different
definitions of cyberbullying. However, generally speaking, cyberbullying can be
defined as a form of intimidation, harassment, and mistreatment on the part of
an individual or group towards another, which involves the use of technological
means to channel an aggression repeatedly and involving an imbalance of power
between the perpetrator and the victim (Talwar, Gomez, Gabriello, & Shariff,
2014). Given that, cyberbullying can take many different forms.
Forms of Cyberbullying
With advancements in electronic
communications, new forms of cyberbullying are emerging every day and it is not
possible to list them all. However, Siegle (2010) tried to identify the most
common forms of cyberbullying and came up with a list that includes the
following forms of cyberbullying:
1. Flaming: Online fights that involve electronic messages with angry
and vulgar language.
2. Harassment: Repeatedly sending obscene, mean, and insulting
3. Denigration: Sending or posting gossip or rumors about a person to
damage his or her reputation or
4. Impersonation: Pretending to be someone else and sending or posting
material to get that person in trouble
or danger or to damage that person’s reputation or friendships.
5. Outing: Sharing someone’s secrets or embarrassing information or
6. Trickery: Talking someone into revealing secrets or embarrassing
information or images online.
7. Exclusion: Intentionally and cruelly excluding someone from an
8. Cyberstalking: Repeated, intense harassment and denigration that
includes threats or creates significant
traditional bullying can also take many forms, it is obvious that cyberbullying
has some unique characteristics that could make it extremely dangerous.
Traditional Bullying Vs. Cyberbullying
What makes cyberbullying
so distinctive? Well, it persists over time, given that online content cannot
be erased easily. Victims have fewer possibilities to escape from aggression,
because online content can reach them,and the large audience of bystanders, everywhere.
Perpetrators are anonymous and it is extremely hard to find out who they are.
There is a lack of direct contact and face-to-face communication with the
victims. Therefore, aggressors and bystanders are less aware of the seriousness
of their behavior and the suffering inflicted on the victim (Noncentini et al.,
Even though only few differences are
listed above, there are enough to conclude that cyberbullying is a very
dangerous type of bullying.
Also, it is important to point out
that one of the most dangerous features of cyberbullying is that it does not
choose its victims.
Who Are the Victims and Perpetrators?
a long time, bullying was considered to be mostly related to school-aged
children. However, newer research has uncovered that bullying has become
something that can occur at any point throughout our lives (Misawa, 2011).
example, Beran and Li (2008) found that 58% of the high school students they
surveyed had experienced Cyber-Victimization, while 26% were cyberbullies in
their life course. According to Kraft and Wang (2010), prevalence rates of
cyberbullying among young adults and college students are estimated to be
around 10–15%. Misawa (2010) pointed out that one of four adults’ experience
bullying within their workplace.It is apparent that, for many people, bullying
and/or cyberbullying is a life-long challenge.
Due to advancements in technology,
our current generation has the option to remain anonymous while interacting
with other faceless and nameless individuals. Anyone can become a perpetrator
or a victim, anywhere and at all times. Therefore, it is important to become more
cautious and aware of the effects of cyberbullying when interacting with others
over the internet.
Effects of Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying and its effects have
been widely studied within middle and high school students. However, less is
known about cyberbullying in college students and other age groups. Only
recently, researchers started to focus on these other populations.
do we know so far? It is obvious that cyberbullying has
adverse effects. Research has shown that youths who have been victims of
cyberbullying report higher levels of depression and suicidal ideation, as well
as increased emotional distress, externalized hostility, and delinquency
compared to non-victimized peers (Patchin and Hinduja, 1996; Jbarra, Mitchel,
& Wolak, 2006). Furthermore, cyberbullying is associated with various
academic problems, including withdrawal from school activities, school absence,
and school failure (Mason, 2008).
It is important to note that, although
much attention has focused on victims, the perpetrators also experience adverse
effects. According to Selkie, Kota, Chan, and Moreno (2015), any involvement in
bullying, as a victim or as a perpetrator, can contribute to depression and
alcohol use in young adulthood.
Furthermore, one study demonstrated that adolescent girls who cyberbully
others have increased rates of depression and anxiety compared with uninvolved
peers (Kowalski, 2013). In another study, perpetration of cyberbullying was
correlated with increased substance use (Ybarra, Espelage, & Mitchell,
Although it is not possible to list
all of the adverse effects associated with cyberbullying, it is evident that
they are numerous and detrimental to the mental health of those involved.
It is clear that cyberbullying is a serious public mental health
problem which has potentially devastating consequences on those involved. Therefore,
it is imperative that we begin to address this problem as soon as possible. In
my opinion, the first step in fighting this pervasive and silent plague, is to raise awareness by highlighting its
existence and effects to the general populace.
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