Cyber bullying is increasing in adolescents with technology being apart of our everyday lives: Internet, mobile phones, laptops, tablets. It is difficult to monitor this unacceptable behaviour. Cyber bullying generically is a psychological type of abuse. It is a bullying which occurs through technological devices.
An Educator’s guide to Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats defines the behavior as verbal aggression such as:
- Harassment or repeated insults through various forms.
- Defamation of a person’s character through derogatory postings, rumors, or images.
- Flaming or fighting messages using anger and vulgar language.
- Outing or deceiving someone into sharing secrets or private information.
- Polling such as posting an image on a voting website to make fun of a person’s looks.
- Impersonation or identity theft to embarrass or destroy a person’s identity.
- Cyber Stalking including sending intimidating or threatening messages.
- Sexting including sexual solicitation and/or exploitation.
- Unsafe digital communities with shared interests, such as social communities that validate eating disorders, violence, or drug use.
This is not a new phenomenon. This is abuse which is being carried on beyond school gates. This has caused students to become disengaged in school, become depressed and in detrimental cases commit suicide.
Young people are often fearful of telling others about being bullied. They sometimes fear that it may become worse if they seek help. They may also fear that privileges will be taken away from them, such as, not being able to use the internet for recreational purposes or their mobile phone will be taken away. The cyber bully knows who they are abusing. On the other hand, the victim may not know who is sitting behind the screen bullying them. This can result in serious psychological repercussions. The victim feels isolated, with no one to call for help because they are fearful of making the situation worse.
This is an issue which is being addressed in many schools nation wide. Some schools carry out cyber bullying programs, which educate students on how to behave appropriately online and what to do if you are being harassed electronically. This form of bullying is currently evolving and students need to continually be educated and informed on this subject matter. This is significantly important as it not only happens in school, but also at home. Students may not have the supportive environment at home to assist them in coping with this matter. That is why it is crucial as teachers to be aware of what is going on in the classroom.
Whether at school or at home creating a positive, supportive atmosphere for reporting bullying as well as building awareness of the issues are important steps that can assist in the reduction of cyber bullying. It is also important to provide an open culture where bullying of this nature can be freely reported and discussed.