What is Cyber Bullying?

Cyber bullying is bullying through email, instant messaging (IMing), chat room exchanges, Web site posts, or digital messages or images send
to a cellular phone or personal digital assistant (PDA) (Kowalski et al.
2008). Cyber bullying, like traditional bullying, involves an imbalance
of power, aggression, and a negative action that is often repeated.

Cyber bullying has some rather unique characteristics that are different from traditional bullying:

  • Anonymity: As bad as the "bully" on the playground may be, he or she can be readily identified and
    potentially avoided. On the other hand, the child who cyber bullies is
    often anonymous. The victim is left wondering who the cyber "bully" is,
    which can cause a great deal of stress.
  • Accessibility: Most children who use traditional ways of bullying terrorize their victim at school, on
    the bus, or walking to or from school. Although bullying can happen
    elsewhere in the community, there is usually a standard period of time
    during which these children have access to their victims. Children who
    cyber bully can wreak havoc any time of the day or night.
  • Punitive Fears: Victims of cyber bullying often do not report it because of: (1) fear of retribution from
    their tormentors, and (2) fear that their computer or phone privileges
    will be taken away. Often, adults' responses to cyber bullying are to
    remove the technology from a victim - which in their eyes can be seen as
    punishment.
  • Bystanders: Most traditional bullying episodes occur in the presence of other people who assume the
    role of bystanders or witnesses. The phenomenon of being a bystander in
    the cyber world is different in that they may receive and forward
    emails, view web pages, forward images sent to cell phones, etc. The
    number of bystanders in the cyber world can reach into the millions.
  • Disinhibition: The anonymity afforded by the Internet can lead children to engage in behaviors that
    they might not do face-to-face. Ironically, it is their very anonymity
    that allows some individuals to bully at all.

Common Forms of Cyber Bullying

Cyber bullying can take many forms. However, there are six forms that are the most common.

  • Harassment: Repeatedly sending offensive, rude, and insulting messages
  • Denigration: Distributing information about another that is derogatory and untrue through posting
    it on a Web page, sending it to others through email or instant
    messaging, or posting or sending digitally altered photos of someone
  • Flaming: Online "fighting" using electronic messages with angry, vulgar language
  • Impersonation: Breaking into an email or social networking account and using that person's online
    identity to send or post vicious or embarrassing material to/about
    others.
  • Outing and Trickery: Sharing someone's secrets or embarrassing information, or tricking someone into
    revealing secrets or embarrassing information and forwarding it to
    others
  • Cyber Stalking: Repeatedly sending messages that include threats of harm or are highly intimidating, or
    engaging in other online activities that make a person afraid for his or
    her safety (depending on the content of the message, it may be illegal)

What are the Warning Signs of Cyber Bullying?

The warning signs of cyber bullying are similar to those for traditional bullying in terms of emotional effects; however, there are some
differences. For example, a bruise or torn clothing is not expected as a
sign that a child is being cyber bullied, but it is also important to
keep in mind that some children who are cyber bullied may also be
experiencing traditional bullying at school.

A child may be experiencing cyber bullying if he or she:

  • appears sad, moody, or anxious
  • avoids school
  • withdraws from or shows a lack of interest in social activities
  • experiences a drop in grades or decline in academic performance
  • appears upset after using the computer or being online
  • appears upset after viewing a text message on a cell phone

If a child shows any of these warning signs, it is important to talk with the child and investigate his or her online presence to determine
whether cyber bullying is occurring and to offer help when needed.


source found at: http://olweus.org

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