Cyber bullying is a high technology bullying that takes place using electronic devices, equipment, and the Internet. It can take many forms, such as posting rumors, mean or hurtful and threatening emails, messages, embarrassing pictures, and videos on social networking sites, blogs, websites, and even in chat rooms. Some sinister forms such as sexting, and sending sexually suggestive pictures, or fake websites and profiles can affect the lives of many teens, not only in the U.S., but also across the globe.
Cyber bullying can happen 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Cyber bullying messages and images are posted anonymously and distributed to a wide variety of audience making it difficult to delete once they have been posted and almost impossible to trace the source.
Although less physical than traditional bullying, cyber bullying can have long-term effects too. Researchers indicate that despite the geographical, racial, and cultural disparities, the prevalence rate remains constant from 29 to 40 percent. According to a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, victims are more likely to retain the effect and become prone to substance abuse, such as drugs and alcohol. Consistent abuse or victims of abuse suffer long-term negative psychological outcomes, including depression and suicidal tendencies.
Cyber bullying may result in misdemeanor cyber harassment charges or juvenile delinquency if the child is young enough. More often than not, cyber bullying does not go that far unless hacking and identity theft are involved, which could be a criminal matter under federal and state law.
Researchers report that there is a rapid progression of bullying and cyber bullying since the Internet became a common tool for anonymous users in the 90s. The results taken from various educational settings, bullying behaviors, multiple social and psychological factors, in varying ages of children and youth prompted a different set of studies, including categories for bully, victim, and bully/victim. Gender was also considered in order to understand the prevalence and emotional outcomes. Study indicates that boys show consistent bullying behaviors than girls, and small children are more likely to become involved in bullying than older youth. The result of the study indicated that the worst psychological outcomes are those who became bullies, compared to the other two categories of study.
Eighty percent of teenagers use mobile phones which become a common means of cyber bullying. One in ten adolescents admitted that embarrassing or awkward pictures of them were taken using phone cameras without their permission. One in five teens were sent sexually suggestive or nude pictures. In a survey done in California, New York, Illinois, Washington, and Pennsylvania, 39 percent of teens and adolescent were victims of bullying, while 50 percent admitted to Cyber bullying, confirmed by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, CyberBullying Research Center, and US Department of Health and Human Services.
Technology expedites cyber bullying as it can spread on a massive scale quickly. Many choose this type of bullying because it gives them anonymity and accessibility. The cyber world gives them power to remove their inhibitions, unlike the traditional bullying, that can often get physical. Cyber bullies think that what they do is funny and eventually gives them the power to intimidate others without disclosing their identity. The study indicates that bullies might be victims themselves and unconsciously do the same things to others, and suffer the worst psychological consequences.
According to i-SAFE Foundation, bullying behavior is alarming. Half of the adolescents in the world experienced being bullied, and the same numbers are engaged in bullying others. About 25 percent of adolescents and teens experienced repeated bullying, by posting duplicate threatening messages. High-technology cyber bullying and recurring bullying proved to be the most damaging to teens.
Written by: Janet Grace Ortigas