CyberBullies — A High-Tech Problem: An Overview

from Educators' eZine

Unfortunately, there have always been bullies in schools. But the Internet has created a new and more serious type of Bully – the CyberBully. Relying on the anonymity of the Internet and our belief in freedom of speech, these predators can strike out safely, knowing that their identity may never be revealed (except perhaps to their comrades) and fearing little in the way of punishment.

They attack with words, pictures, and now with online videos, and gloat as their victims' reputations – and sometimes fragile egos – are destroyed. Even worse, defamation posted to the Web has no defined shelf life – in fact it often takes on a life of its own, being replicated and spreading. Theoretically it is now possible for a 12–year–old in Sydney, Australia to be amused at and pass along the put–down of a 12–year–old from Syracuse, New York.

It is a serious problem, and one in which the schools must become involved. Schools should educate students in how to handle bullying. Before schools can expect teenagers to have "netiquette", using the Internet properly, and treat others well, they should teach appropriate non-harassment behavior. Schools should provide meaningful training to parents, staff and even students. Workshops can be designed to promote awareness, procedures for bullying prevention, and strategies to handle cyberbullying.

Part 1: The Problem
Social networking sites, text messaging, and Internet video sites increases the opportunity for emotionally implusive, immature teens, to use insults, untruths, rumors and even sexual harassment, causing real psychological damage to othe teens and preteens struggling to find their identities and sense of worth. This paper examines the growth and impact of cyberbullying on teenagers.

Part 2: The Research
Bullying is now more likely to take place in the murky, often anonymous world of the Internet. About a third (31%) of all students aged 12 to 14 have been bullied online, according to a study by Opinion Research Corporation (2006). This study of 59 middle school student examine reasons for cyberbullying, its impacts, and lack of reporting by teens to their teachers and parents.

Part 3: What Schools Can Do
Given the significant increase in cyberbullying, and evidence of a lack of reporting by students and thus little awareness by teachers and parents, it is time for school to provide meaningful training on what can be done to minimize this growing concern. This paper details what resources are available to help as well as how they might be used by schools to help stem the problem of cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying Pt. 1 – January
Cyberbullying Pt. 2 – February
Cyberbullying Pt. 3 – March

Email:Ryan E. Winter, Dr. Robert J. Leneway