Effects of Cyberbullying
Because cyberbullying lacks the physical hurt, skeptics of cyberbullying feel it is not as harmful as traditional bullying. These skeptics must look at the psychological damage caused by cyberbullying. Allison, a ninth grader from Washington, D.C. repeatedly received hate mail on her instant messages, "It seemed like it was from girls who I thought were my friends. When I confronted them, they denied it and blamed it on someone else. I never knew who was really behind it. I got really paranoid and couldnâ€™t concentrate in school" (Wiseman, 2007). Allison is not alone, many victims feel trapped, frustrated and distracted. Victims may also experience depression, sadness, low self-esteem, anger, thoughts of suicide and stress. Sociologist Robert Agnew maintains that those who experience this stress or strain are more likely to participate in "deviant or delinquent" behaviors in order to cope (Hinduja and Patchin, 2006). This is especially important to note because of the potential for delinquent behaviors affecting peers, school work, family and the community.
So, there is little question that cyberbulling exist, but what are the concerns students have regarding cyberbullying, why do they do it, and how comfortable are they in talking to others about cyberbullying.
Subject and instrument A total of 59 eighth grade students from a Midwest urban charter school including 24 males and 35 females completed a 25 question anonymous survey. Students were given a brief explanation to the purpose of the 25 question survey and encouraged to take their time and honestly answer the questions and not identify themselves in taking the multi-choice survey.
The study found approximately 29 percent had been victims of cyberbullying and 24 percent had bullied someone online. Of those who had admitted to being cyberbullied, 59 percent admitted to bullying someone as well. In addition, approximately 80 percent of all of the students surveyed reported that they aware of instances of cyberbullying.
When male and female experiences were considered separately, it was found that over 20 percent of males and over 34 percent of females had experienced cyberbullying. In addition, 29 percent of males and only 20 percent of females reported to have cyberbullied.
Table 1Percentages of students experiencing cyberbullying
Cyberbully Victim 20.8 34.3 28.8 Engaged in Cyberbulling 29.2 20.0 23.7 Aware of Cyberbullying 58.3 82.8 79.6
Coming next week, Part 3: Who is a Cyberbully?
Ryan E. Winter is an 8th grade Teacher at Excel Charter Academy.
Dr. Robert J. Leneway is the education technology unit coordinator at Western Michigan University.