Cyberbullying or cyberharassment is a form of bullying or harassment using electronic forms of contact. Cyberbullying has become increasingly common, especially among teenagers. Harmful bullying behavior can include posting rumors about a person, threats, sexual remarks, disclose victims' personal information, or pejorative labels (i.e., hate speech). Bullying or harassment can be identified by repeated behavior and an intent to harm. Victims may have lower self-esteem, increased suicidal ideation, and a variety of emotional responses, retaliating, being scared, frustrated, angry, and depressed. Individuals have reported that cyberbullying can be more harmful than traditional bullying.
Awareness in the United States has risen in the 2010s, due in part to high-profile cases. Several states in the US and in other countries have laws specific to regulating cyberbullying. These laws can be designed to specifically target teen cyberbullying, while others use laws extending from the scope of physical harassment. In cases of adult cyberharassment, these reports are usually filed beginning with local police. Research has demonstrated a number of serious consequences of cyberbullying victimization.
Internet trolling is a common form of bullying over the Internet in an online community (such as in online gaming or social media) in order to elicit a reaction, disruption, or for their own personal amusement. Cyberstalking is another form of bullying or harassment that uses electronic communications to stalk a victim may pose a credible threat to the safety of the victim.
A frequently used definition of cyberbullying is "an aggressive, intentional act or behavior that is carried out by a group or an individual, using electronic forms of contact, repeatedly and over time against a victim who cannot easily defend him or herself." There are many variations of the definition, such as the National Crime Prevention Council's more specific definition: "the process of using the Internet, cell phones or other devices to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person."
Cyberbullying is often similar to traditional bullying, with some notable distinctions. Victims of cyberbullying may not know the identity of their bully, or why the bully is targeting them. The harassment can have wide-reaching effects on the victim, as the content used to harass the victim can be spread and shared easily among many people and often remains accessible for a long time after the initial incident.
The terms cyberharassment and cyberbullying are sometimes used synonymously, though some people use cyberbullying specifically to refer to harassment among minors or in a school setting.
Cyberstalking is a form of online harassment in which the perpetrator uses electronic communications to stalk a victim. Cyberstalking is considered more dangerous than other forms of cyberbullying because it generally involves a credible threat to the safety of the victim. Cyberstalkers may send repeated messages intended to threaten or harass their victim. They may encourage others to do the same, either explicitly or by impersonating their victim and asking others to contact them.
Internet trolls intentionally try to provoke or offend others in order to elicit a reaction. Trolls and cyberbullies do not always have the same goals: while some trolls engage in cyberbullying, others may be engaged in comparatively harmless mischief. A troll may be disrupt either for their own amusement or because they are genuinely a combative person.
Manuals to educate the public, teachers and parents summarize, "Cyberbullying is being cruel to others by sending or posting harmful material using a cell phone or the internet." Research, legislation and education in the field are ongoing. Research has identified basic definitions and guidelines to help recognize and cope with what is regarded as abuse of electronic communications.
- Cyberbullying involves repeated behavior with intent to harm.
- Cyberbullying is perpetrated through harassment, cyberstalking, denigration (sending or posting cruel rumors and falsehoods to damage reputation and friendships), impersonation, and exclusion (intentionally and cruelly excluding someone from an online group)
|How online abuse of women has spiraled out of control, Ashley Judd, TED Talks, 16:10|
Cyberbullying can be as simple as continuing to send emails or text messages harassing someone who has said they want no further contact with the sender. It may also include public actions such as repeated threats, sexual remarks, pejorative labels (i.e., hate speech) or defamatory false accusations, ganging up on a victim by making the person the subject of ridicule in online forums, hacking into or vandalizing sites about a person, and posting false statements as fact aimed a discrediting or humiliating a targeted person. Cyberbullying could be limited to posting rumors about a person on the internet with the intention of bringing about hatred in others' minds or convincing others to dislike or participate in online denigration of a target. It may go to the extent of personally identifying victims of crime and publishing materials severely defaming or humiliating them.
Cyberbullies may disclose victims' personal data (e.g. real name, home address, or workplace/schools) at websites or forums or may use impersonation, creating fake accounts, comments or sites posing as their target for the purpose of publishing material in their name that defames, discredits or ridicules them. This can leave the cyberbully anonymous which can make it difficult for the offender to be caught or punished for their behavior, although not all cyberbullies maintain their anonymity. Text or instant messages and emails between friends can also constitute cyberbullying if what is said or displayed is hurtful to the participants.
The recent use of mobile applications and rise of smartphones have yielded to a more accessible form of cyberbullying. It is expected that cyberbullying via these platforms will be associated with bullying via mobile phones to a greater extent than exclusively through other more stationary internet platforms. In addition, the combination of cameras and Internet access and the instant availability of these modern smartphone technologies yield themselves to specific types of cyberbullying not found in other platforms. It is likely that those cyberbullied via mobile devices will experience a wider range of cyberbullying types than those exclusively bullied elsewhere.
While most cases are considered to be cyberbullying, some teens argue that most events are simply drama. For example, Danah Boyd writes, "teens regularly used that word [drama] to describe various forms of interpersonal conflict that ranged from insignificant joking around to serious jealousy-driven relational aggression. Whereas adults might have labeled many of these practices as bullying, teens saw them as drama."
Cyberbullying can take place on social media sites such as Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter. "By 2008, 93% of young people between the ages of 12 and 17 were online. In fact, youth spend more time with media than any single other activity besides sleeping." The last decade has witnessed a surge of cyberbullying, bullying that occurs through the use of electronic communication technologies, such as e-mail, instant messaging, social media, online gaming, or through digital messages or images sent to a cellular phone.
There are many risks attached to social media sites, and cyberbullying is one of the larger risks. One million children were harassed, threatened or subjected to other forms of cyberbullying on Facebook during the past year, while 90 percent of social-media-using teens who have witnessed online cruelty say they have ignored mean behavior on social media, and 35 percent have done this frequently. 95 percent of social-media-using teens who have witnessed cruel behavior on social networking sites say they have seen others ignoring the mean behavior, and 55 percent witness this frequently.
According to a 2013 Pew Research study, eight out of ten teens who use social media share more information about themselves than they have in the past. This includes location, images, and contact information. In order to protect children, it is important that personal information such as age, birthday, school/church, phone number, etc. be kept confidential.
Cyberbullying can also take place through the use of websites belonging to certain groups to effectively request the targeting of another individual or group. An example of this is the bullying of climate scientists and activists.
Of those who reported having experienced online harassment in a Pew Research poll, 16% said the most recent incident occurred in an online game. A study from National Sun Yat-sen University observed that children who enjoyed violent video games were significantly more likely to both experience and perpetrate cyberbullying.
Another study that discusses the direct correlation between exposure to violent video games and cyber bullying also took into account personal factors such as; "duration of playing online games, alcohol consumption in the last 3 months, parents drunk in the last 3 months, anger, hostility, ADHD, and a sense of belonging" as potential contributing factors of cyberbullying.
Gaming was a more common venue for men to experience harassment, whereas women's' harassment tended to occur via social media. Most respondents considered gaming culture to be equally welcoming to both genders, though 44% thought it favored men. Keza MacDonald writes in The Guardian that sexism exists in gaming culture, but is not mainstream within it. Sexual harassment in gaming generally involves slurs directed towards women, sex role stereotyping, and overaggressive language. U.S. President Barack Obama made reference to harassment of women gamers during remarks in honor of Women's History Month.
Competitive gaming scenes have been less welcoming of women that has broader gaming culture. In an internet-streamed fighting game competition, one female gamer forfeited a match after the coach of her team, Aris Bakhtanians, stated, "The sexual harassment is part of the culture. If you remove that from the fighting game community, it's not the fighting game community" The comments were widely condemned by gamers, with comments in support of sexual harassment "drowned out by a vocal majority of people expressing outrage, disappointment and sympathy." The incident built momentum for action to counter sexual harassment in gaming.
In a number of instances, game developers have been subjected to harassment and death threats by players upset by changes to a game or by a developer's online policies. Harassment also occurs in reaction to critics such as Jack Thompson or Anita Sarkeesian, whom some fans see as a threat to the medium. Various individuals have been harassed in connection with the Gamergate controversy. Harassment related to gaming is not of a notably different severity or tenor compared to online harassment motivated by other subcultures or advocacy issues.
In search engines
Information cascades happen when users start passing on information they assume to be true, but cannot know to be true, based on information on what other users are doing. Information cascades can be accelerated by search engines' ranking technologies and their tendency to return results relevant to a user's previous interests. This type of information spreading is hard to stop. Information cascades over social media and the Internet may also be harmless, and may contain truthful information.
Bullies use Google bombs (a term applicable to any search engine) to increase the eminence of favored posts sorted by the most popular searches, done by linking to those posts from as many other web pages as possible. Examples include the campaign for the neologism "santorum" organized by the LGBT lobby. Google bombs can manipulate the Internet's search engines regardless of how authentic the pages are, but there is a way to counteract this type of manipulation as well.
A majority of states have laws that explicitly include electronic forms of communication within stalking or harassment laws. Most law enforcement agencies have cyber-crime units and often Internet stalking is treated with more seriousness than reports of physical stalking. Help and resources can be searched by state or area.
The safety of schools is increasingly becoming a focus of state legislative action. There was an increase in cyberbullying enacted legislation between 2006 and 2010. Initiatives and curriclulum requirements also exist in the UK (the Ofsted eSafety guidance) and Australia (Overarching Learning Outcome 13).
In 2012, a group of teenagers in New Haven, Connecticut developed an application to help fight bullying. The application is called "Back Off Bully" (BOB), the web app is an anonymous resource for computer, smart phone or iPad. When someone witnesses or is the victim of bullying, they can immediately report the incident. The app asks questions about time, location and how the bullying is happening, as well as providing positive action and empowerment over the incident, the reported information helps by going to a database where administrators study it.
Common threads are spotted so others can intervene and break the bully's pattern. Back Off Bully, the brainchild of fourteen teens in a design class, is being considered as standard operating procedure at schools across Connecticut, while recent studies carried out among 66 high school teachers have concluded that prevention programs proved ineffective to date.
There are laws that only address online harassment of children or focus on child predators as well as laws that protect adult cyberstalking victims, or victims of any age. Currently, there are 45 cyberstalking (and related) laws on the books. While some sites specialize in laws that protect victims age 18 and under, Working to Halt Online Abuse is a help resource containing a list of current and pending cyberstalking-related United States federal and state laws. It also lists those states that do not have laws yet and related laws from other countries. The Global Cyber Law Database (GCLD) aims to become the most comprehensive and authoritative source of cyber laws for all countries.
Children report negative online behaviors occurring from the second grade. According to research, boys initiate negative online activity earlier than girls do. However, by middle school, girls are more likely to engage in cyberbullying than boys. Whether the bully is male or female, his or her purpose is to intentionally embarrass others, harass, intimidate, or make threats online to one another. This bullying occurs via email, text messaging, posts to blogs, and websites.
Studies in the psycho-social effects of cyberspace have begun to monitor the impacts cyber-bullying may have on the victims, and the consequences it may lead to. Consequences of cyber-bullying are multi-faceted, and affect online and offline behavior. Research on adolescents reported that changes in the victims' behavior as a result of cyber-bullying could be positive. Victims "created a cognitive pattern of bullies, which consequently helped them to recognize aggressive people."
However, the Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace abstract reports critical impacts in almost all of the respondents', taking the form of lower self-esteem, loneliness, disillusionment, and distrust of people. The more extreme impacts were self-harm. Children have killed each other and committed suicide after having been involved in a cyberbullying incident. Some cases of digital self-harm have been reported, where an individual engages in cyberbullying against themselves, or purposefully and knowingly exposes themselves to cyberbullying.
Stalking online has criminal consequences just as physical stalking. A target's understanding of why cyberstalking is happening is helpful to remedy and take protective action to restore remedy. Cyberstalking is an extension of physical stalking. Among factors that motivate stalkers are: envy, pathological obsession (professional or sexual), unemployment or failure with own job or life; intention to intimidate and cause others to feel inferior; the stalker is delusional and believes he/she "knows" the target; the stalker wants to instill fear in a person to justify his/her status; belief they can get away with it (anonymity).
The US federal cyberstalking law is designed to prosecute people for using electronic means to repeatedly harass or threaten someone online. There are resources dedicated to assisting adult victims deal with cyberbullies legally and effectively. One of the steps recommended is to record everything and contact police.
The nationwide Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Survey (Cross et al., 2009) assessed cyber-bullying experiences among 7,418 students. Rates of cyber-bullying increased with age, with 4.9% of students in Year 4 reporting cyberbullying compared to 7.9% in year nine. Cross et al., (2009) reported that rates of bullying and harassing others were lower, but also increased with age. Only 1.2% of Year 4 students reported cyber-bullying others compared to 5.6% of Year 9 students.
Over the mainland of China, cyberbullying seems has yet to receive adequate scholarly. A study investigated the risk factors of cyberbullying, illustrated a sample of 1438 high school students from central China. Data had shown 34.84% were participated bullied and 56.88% had been bullied by online. Students who spend more time on internet have themselves experienced traditional bullying as victims will be more likely to experience cyberbullying through different social media in instant-message.
A study investigated cyberbullying in Hong Kong chose 48 people out of 7654 students from elementary school to high school who were classify as potential aggressors that related to cyberbullying. 31 out of 48 students declared they barely participate in cyber-attack. In is more general among high school students (28 out of 36 students) to participate in social media platform. These students took a survey about cyberbullying: 58% admitted they changed nickname for others, 56.3% for humiliation, 54.2% make fun of someone, 54.2% for spread out rumors. The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups had interviewed 1820 teenagers, 17.5% indicated the experience of cyberbully. For example: insult, coarse abuse, publishes personal private pictures with candid camera, and spread out in social media without permission.
In a study published in 2011, across 25 EU member states studied, the average 6% of the children (9–16 years old) have been bullied and only 3% of them confessed to be a bully. However, in an earlier publication of Hasenbrink et al. (2009), reporting on the results from a meta analysis from European Union countries, the authors estimated (via median results) that approximately 18% of European young people had been "bullied/harassed/stalked" via the internet and mobile phones. Cyber-harassment rates for young people across the EU member states ranged from 10% to 52%. The decreasing numbers can caused by developing increasingly specific methods, dividing the tasks into different variables.
In addition to the current research, Sourander et al. (2010) conducted a population-based cross-sectional study that took place in Finland. The authors of this study took the self-reports of 2215 Finish adolescents between the ages of 13 to 16 years old about cyberbullying and cybervictimization during the past 6 months. It was found that, amongst the total sample, 4.8% were cybervictims only, 7.4% were cyberbullies only, and 5.4% were cyberbully-victims.
The authors of this study were able to conclude that cyberbullying as well as cybervictimization is associated not only with psychiatric issues, but psychosomatic issues. Many adolescents in the study reported headaches or difficulty sleeping. The authors believe that their results indicate a greater need for new ideas on how to prevent cyberbullying and what to do when it occurs. It is clearly a worldwide problem that needs to be taken seriously.
The journal article titled "Exploring traditional and cyberbullying among Irish adolescent" studies the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) pilot survey was carried out by 8 post-primary schools across Ireland in which 318 students aged 15–18 years old completed. 59% of these students were boys and 41% were girls. The participation in this survey was completely voluntary for the student and content had to be obtained from the parents as well as students and also the school itself. This survey was also anonymous and confidential. It took one class or 40 minutes to complete by the students. This survey asked questions on traditional forms of bullying as well as cyber bullying, risk behaviours and self-reported health and life satisfaction.
66% of these students said that they have never been bullied. 14% reported that they were victims of the traditional forms of bullying. 10% reported that they were victims of cyber bullying and the remaining 10% said that they were victims of both traditional forms of bullying as well as cyber bullying. It was mostly boys that said they were victims of just traditional forms of bullying, but it was reported that it was mostly girls that were victims of both traditional forms of bullying and cyber bullying. 20% of the students in this survey said that they have been cyber bullied showing that cyber bullying is on the rise. Arrow D.I.T claims that twenty-three percent of 9–16 year olds in Ireland have been bullied on-line or of-line, compared to nineteen percent in Europe. Although, on-line bullying in Ireland at 4% according to Arrow D.I.T is lower than the European average which stands at 6%, and half that of the UK where 8% reported being cyberbullied. As a result, traditional forms of bullying in Ireland is higher than their European counterparts, but lower when it comes to cyberbullying.
According to recent research, in Japan, 17 percent (compared with a 25-country average of 37 percent) of youth between the ages of 8 and 17 have been victim to online bullying activities. The number shows that online bullying is a serious concern in Japan. Teenagers who spend more than 10 hours a week on Internet are more likely to become the target of online bullying. Only 28 percent of the survey participants understood what cyberbullying is. However, they do notice the severity of the issue since 63 percent of the surveyed worry about being targeted as victims of cyberbullying.
With the advance of Internet technology, everyone can access the internet. Since teenagers find themselves congregating socially on the internet via social media, they become easy targets for cyberbullying. Forms of social media where cyberbullying occurs include but are not limited to email, text, chat rooms, mobile phones, mobile phone cameras and social websites (Facebook, Twitter). Some cyberbullies have set up websites or blogs to post the target's images, publicize their personal information, gossip about the target, express why they hate the target, request people to agree with the bully's view, and sending links to the target to make sure they are watching the activity.
Much cyberbullying is an act of relational aggression, which involves alienating the victim from his or her peers through gossip or ostracism. This kind of attack can be easily launched via texting or other online activities. Here is an example of a 19-year-old teenager sharing his real experience of cyberbullying. When he was in high school, his classmates posted his photo online, insulted him constantly, and asked him to die. Because of the constant harassment, he did attempt suicide twice. Even when he quit school, the attacks did not stop.
Cyberbullying can cause serious psychological impact to the victims. They often feel anxious, nervous, tired, and depressed. Other examples of negative psychological trauma include losing confidence as a result being socially isolated from their schoolmates or friends. Mental psychological problems can also show up in the form of headaches, skin problems, abdominal pain, sleep problems, bed-wetting, and crying. It may also lead victims to commit suicide to end bullying.
A survey by the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire in 2000 found that 6% of the young people in the survey had experienced some form of harassment including threats and negative rumours and 2% had suffered distressing harassment.
The 2004 I-Safe.org survey of 1,500 students between grades 4 and 8 found:
- 42% of children had been bullied while online. One in four have had it happen more than once.
- 35% had been threatened online. Nearly one in five had had it happen more than once.
- 21% had received mean or threatening e-mails or other messages.
- 58% admitted that someone had said mean or hurtful things to them online. More than four out of ten said it had happened more than once.
- 58% had not told their parents or an adult about something mean or hurtful that had happened to them online.
The Youth Internet Safety Survey-2, conducted by the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire in 2005, found that 9% of the young people in the survey had experienced some form of harassment. The survey was a nationally representative telephone survey of 1,500 youth 10–17 years old. One third reported feeling distressed by the incident, with distress being more likely for younger respondents and those who were the victims of aggressive harassment (including being telephoned, sent gifts, or visited at home by the harasser). Compared to youth not harassed online, victims are more likely to have social problems. On the other hand, youth who harass others are more likely to have problems with rule breaking and aggression.
Hinduja and Patchin completed a study in the summer of 2005 of approximately 1,500 Internet-using adolescents and found that over one-third of youth reported being victimized online, and over 16% of respondents admitted to cyber-bullying others. While most of the instances of cyber-bullying involved relatively minor behavior (41% were disrespected, 19% were called names), over 12% were physically threatened and about 5% were scared for their safety. Notably, fewer than 15% of victims told an adult about the incident. Additional research by Hinduja and Patchin in 2007 found that youth who report being victims of cyber-bullying also experience stress or strain that is related to offline problem behaviors such as running away from home, cheating on a school test, skipping school, or using alcohol or marijuana. The authors acknowledge that both of these studies provide only preliminary information about the nature and consequences of online bullying, due to the methodological challenges associated with an online survey.
According to a 2005 survey by the National Children's Home charity and Tesco Mobile of 770 youth between the ages of 11 and 19, 20% of respondents revealed that they had been bullied via electronic means. Almost three-quarters (73%) stated that they knew the bully, while 26% stated that the offender was a stranger. 10% of responders indicated that another person has taken a picture and/or video of them via a cellular phone camera, consequently making them feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, or threatened. Many youths are not comfortable telling an authority figure about their cyber-bullying victimization for fear their access to technology will be taken from them; while 24% and 14% told a parent or teacher respectively, 28% did not tell anyone while 41% told a friend.
According to the 2006 Harris Interactive Cyberbullying Research Report, commissioned by the National Crime Prevention Council, cyber-bullying is a problem that "affects almost half of all American teens".
In 2007, Debbie Heimowitz, a Stanford University master's student, created Adina's Deck, a film based on Stanford accredited research. She worked in focus groups for ten weeks in three schools to learn about the problem of cyber-bullying in Northern California. The findings determined that over 60% of students had been cyber-bullied and were victims of cyber-bullying. The film is now being used in classrooms nationwide as it was designed around learning goals pertaining to problems that students had understanding the topic. The middle school of Megan Meier is reportedly using the film as a solution to the crisis in their town.
In the summer of 2008, researchers Sameer Hinduja (Florida Atlantic University) and Justin Patchin (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire) published a book on cyber-bullying that summarized the current state of cyber-bullying research. (Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying). Their research documents that cyber-bullying instances have been increasing over the last several years. They also report findings from the most recent study of cyber-bullying among middle-school students. Using a random sample of approximately 2000 middle-school students from a large school district in the southern United States, about 10% of respondents had been cyber-bullied in the previous 30 days while over 17% reported being cyber-bullied at least once in their lifetime. While these rates are slightly lower than some of the findings from their previous research, Hinduja and Patchin point out that the earlier studies were predominantly conducted among older adolescents and Internet samples. That is, older youth use the Internet more frequently and are more likely to experience cyber-bullying than younger children.
According to the 2011 National Crime Victimization Survey, conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS), 9% of students of ages 12–18 admittedly experienced cyberbullying during that school year (with a coefficient of variation between 30% and 50%).
In the Youth Risk Behavior Survey 2013, the Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published results of its survey as part of the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) in June 2014, indicating in table 17 the percentage of school children being bullied through e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, Web sites, or texting ("electronically bullied") during the course of the year 2013.
|Race/Ethnicity||Female||95% confidence interval||Male||95% confidence interval||Total||95% confidence interval|
|White W/O His.||25.2%||22.6%–28.0%||8.7%||7.5%–10.1%||16.9%||15.3%–18.7%|
|Black W/O His.||10.5%||8.7%–12.6%||6.9%||5.2%–9.0%||8.7%||7.3%–10.4%|
|Grade||Female||95% confidence interval||Male||95% confidence interval||Total||95% confidence interval|
In 2014, Mehari, Farrell, and Le published a study that focused on the literature on cyberbullying among adolescents. They found that researchers have generally assumed that cyberbullying is distinct from aggression perpetrated in person. They suggest that the media through which aggression is perpetrated may be best conceptualized as a new dimension on which aggression can be classified, rather than cyberbullying as a distinct counterpart to existing forms of aggression and that future research on cyberbullying should be considered within the context of theoretical and empirical knowledge of aggression in adolescence. Mary Howlett-Brandon's doctoral dissertation analyzed the National Crime Victimization Survey: Student Crime Supplement, 2009, to focus on the cyberbullying victimization of Black students and White students in specific conditions.
WalletHub's 2015's Best & Worst States at Controlling Bullying report measured the relative levels of bullying in 42 states. According to the report, North Dakota, Illinois, Louisiana, Rhode Island, and Washington D.C. have the highest attempted suicide by high school students. The top 5 states with highest percentage of students being bullied on campus is Missouri, Michigan, Idaho, North Dakota, and Montana.
Cyberbullying on social media has usually been student-to-student but recently, students have been cyberbullying their teachers. High School students in Colorado created a Twitter site that bullies many teachers. The bullying ranges from obscenities to false accusations of inappropriate actions with students.
Legislation geared at penalizing cyberbullying has been introduced in a number of U.S. states including New York, Missouri, Rhode Island and Maryland. At least forty five states passed laws against digital harassment. Dardenne Prairie of Springfield, Missouri, passed a city ordinance making online harassment a misdemeanor. The city of St. Charles, Missouri has passed a similar ordinance. Missouri is among other states where lawmakers are pursuing state legislation, with a task forces expected to have "cyberbullying" laws drafted and implemented. In June, 2008, Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) and Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R-Mo.) proposed a federal law that would criminalize acts of cyberbullying.
Lawmakers are seeking to address cyberbullying with new legislation because there's currently no specific law on the books that deals with it. A fairly new federal cyberstalking law might address such acts, according to Parry Aftab, but no one has been prosecuted under it yet. The proposed federal law would make it illegal to use electronic means to "coerce, intimidate, harass or cause other substantial emotional distress."
In August 2008, the California state legislature passed one of the first laws in the country to deal directly with cyberbullying. The legislation, Assembly Bill 86 2008, gives school administrators the authority to discipline students for bullying others offline or online. This law took effect, January 1, 2009. A law in New York's Albany County that criminalized cyberbullying was recently struck down as unconstitutional by the New York Court of Appeals in People v. Marquan M..
A recent ruling first seen in the UK determined that it is possible for an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to be liable for the content of sites which it hosts, setting a precedent that any ISP should treat a notice of complaint seriously and investigate it immediately.
criminalizes the making of threats via Internet.
Since the 1990s, the United Kingdom and other European countries have been working to solve workplace bullying since there is no legislation regulating cyberbullying. The pervasive nature of technology has made the act of bullying online much easier. A 24-hour internet connection gives bullies a never ending opportunity to find and bully victims. Employers in the European Union have more legal responsibility to their employees than other countries. Since employers do not the ability to fire or hire an employee at will like in the United States, employers in Europe are held to a high standard in how their employees are treated. The Framework Agreement on Harassment and Violence at Work is a law that prevents bullying occurring in the workplace and holds employers accountable for providing fair working conditionsr. Lawyers pursuing cyberbullying cases use The Ordinance on Victimization at Work law, since they are not any laws specifically condemning cyberbullying.
In 1993, Sweden was the first European Union country to have a law against cyberbullying. The Ordinance on Victimization at Work protected victims from "recurrent reprehensible or distinctly negative actions which are directed which are directed against individual employees in an offensive manner and can result in those employees being placed outside the workplace community". In 2002, France passed the Social Modernization Law, which added consequences to the French Labor Code for cyberbullying such as holding employers accountable for their involvement in harassment. The legislation states, "the employer can be held accountable if it is deemed by court of law that the conduct defile the employee emotionally or physical health in any manner". The United Kingdom does not have anti-bullying legislation. However, it does have the Protection From Harassment Act, an anti-stalking law. The United Kingdom courts have used this legislation in bullying cases. In 2007, the European Union developed the Framework Agreement on Harassment and Violence at Work. The law defines the responsibilities of an employer such as protecting his or her employees from bullies in a work environment and the psychological pain a victim faces from bullies during business hours.
The United States and other countries have more extensive legislation on cyberbullying than the European Union. The amount of cyberbullying incidents on social media are widespread and have increased drastically. However, the process of getting a claim against a bully is not an easy one because of the victim's need to provide sufficient evidence to prove the existence of bullying.
As of mid-2015, countries in the European Union like the United Kingdom are in the process of creating law specially related to cyberbullying. Since the process takes time, the government is supporting schools programs to promote internet safety with the help of teachers and parents. This will allow government to take the time it needs to create the cyberbullying laws while helping students safeguarding themselves from cyberbullying as much as they can.
Research on preventative legislation
Researchers suggest that programs be put in place for prevention of cyberbullying. These programs would be incorporated into school curricula and would include online safety and instruction on how to use the Internet properly. This could teach the victim proper methods of potentially avoiding the cyberbully, such as blocking messages or increasing the security on their computer.
Within this suggested school prevention model, even in a perfect world, not one crime can be stopped fully. That is why it is suggested that within this prevention method, effective coping strategies should be introduced and adopted. As with any crime, people learn to cope with what has happened, and the same goes for cyberbullying. People can adopt coping strategies to combat future cyberbullying events. An example of a coping strategy would be a social support group composed of various victims of cyberbullying. That could come together and share experiences, with a formal speaker leading the discussion. Something like a support group can allow students to share their stories, and allows that feeling of them being alone to be removed.
Teachers should be involved in all prevention educational models, as they are essentially the "police" of the classroom. Most cyberbullying often goes unreported as the victim feels nothing can be done to help in their current situation. However, if given the proper tools with preventative measures and more power in the classroom, teachers can be of assistance to the problem of cyber-bullying. If the parent, teacher, and victim can work together, a possible solution or remedy can be found.
There have been many legislative attempts to facilitate the control of bullying and cyberbullying. The problem is due to the fact that some existing legislation is incorrectly thought to be tied to bullying and cyberbullying (terms such as libel and slander). The problem is they do not directly apply to it nor define it as its own criminal behavior. Anti-cyberbullying advocates even expressed concern about the broad scope of applicability of some of the bills attempted to be passed.
In the United States, attempts were made to pass legislation against cyberbullying. Few states attempted to pass broad sanctions in an effort to prohibit cyberbullying. Problem include how to define cyberbullying and cyberstalking, and if charges are pressed, whether it violates the bully's freedom of speech. B. Walther has said that "Illinois is the only state to criminalize 'electronic communication(s) sent for the purpose of harassing another person' when the activity takes place outside a public school setting." Again this came under fire for infringement on freedom of speech.
Research had demonstrated a number of serious consequences of cyberbullying victimization. For example, victims have lower self-esteem, increased suicidal ideation, and a variety of emotional responses, retaliating, being scared, frustrated, angry, and depressed. People have reported that Cyberbullying can be more harmful than traditional bullying because there is no escaping it.
One of the most damaging effects is that a victim begins to avoid friends and activities, often the very intention of the cyberbully.
Cyberbullying campaigns are sometimes so damaging that victims have committed suicide. There are at least four examples in the United States where cyberbullying has been linked to the suicide of a teenager. The suicide of Megan Meier is a recent example that led to the conviction of the adult perpetrator of the attacks. Another example of harmful effects is the death of Holly Grogan who ended her life by jumping of a 30-foot bridge near Gloucester in the UK . It was reported that a number of her schoolmates has posted a number of hateful messages on her Facebook page.
According to Lucie Russell, director of campaigns, policy and participation at youth mental health charity Young Minds, young people who suffer from mental disorder are vulnerable to cyberbullying as they are sometimes unable to shrug it off:
When someone says nasty things healthy people can filter that out, they're able to put a block between that and their self-esteem. But mentally unwell people don't have the strength and the self-esteem to do that, to separate it, and so it gets compiled with everything else. To them, it becomes the absolute truth – there's no filter, there's no block. That person will take that on, take it as fact.
Social media has allowed bullies to disconnect from the impact they may be having on others.
Intimidation, emotional damage, suicide
According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, "there have been several high‐profile cases involving teenagers taking their own lives in part because of being harassed and mistreated over the Internet, a phenomenon we have termed cyberbullicide – suicide indirectly or directly influenced by experiences with online aggression."
Cyberbullying is an intense form of psychological abuse, whose victims are more than twice as likely to suffer from mental disorders compared to traditional bullying.
The reluctance youth have in telling an authority figure about instances of cyberbullying has led to fatal outcomes. At least three children between the ages of 12 and 13 have committed suicide due to depression brought on by cyberbullying, according to reports by USA Today and the Baltimore Examiner. These would include the suicide of Ryan Halligan and the suicide of Megan Meier, the latter of which resulted in United States v. Lori Drew.
More recently, teenage suicides tied to cyberbullying have become more prevalent. The latest victim of cyberbullying through the use of mobile applications was Rebecca Ann Sedwick, who committed suicide after being terrorized through mobile applications such as Ask.fm, Kik Messenger and Voxer.
On youth and teenagers
The effects of cyberbullying vary. But, research illustrates that cyber bullying adversely affects youth to a higher degree than adolescents and adults. Youth are more likely to suffer since they are still growing mentally and physically. Jennifer N. Caudle, a certified family physician, describes the effects as "Kids that are bullied are likely to experience anxiety, depression, loneliness, unhappiness and poor sleep".
Most of the time cyberbullying goes unnoticed; the younger generation hides their bullying from anyone that can help to prevent the bullying from occurring and from getting worse. Between 20% and 40% of adolescents are victims of cyberbullying worldwide. The youth slowly change their behaviors and actions so they become more withdrawn and quiet than they are used to, but no one notices since the change is subtle. Cyberbullying will "become a serious problem in the future with an increase in the Internet and mobile phone usage among young people".
If preventive actions are not taken against cyberbullying, younger children in addition to teenagers will feel more lonely and depressed along with having a significant change in their eating and sleeping patterns as well as loss of interest in their normal activities. These changes will affect their growth and development into adulthood. Younger children and teenagers are 76.2% less likely to display suicidal behaviors and thoughts, but are still at risk depending on other factors such as mental health status, home care, relationships with others. The risk of suicide increases 35% to 45% when victims do not have any support from anyone in their life and cyberbullying amplifies the situation more.
Young people seem particularly liable to the effects of cyberbullying through anonymous social media, perhaps because adolescents are attracted to these platforms as a means of seeking validation from their peers. Abuse on these platforms, such as ASKfm, Yik Yak and Sarahah, can be particularly keenly felt by young people, leading to issues of loss of confidence. there have been a number of suicides related to bullying on these platforms in the US and Britain.
The Cybersmile Foundation is a cyberbullying charity committed to tackling all forms of online bullying, abuse, and hate campaigns. The charity was founded in 2010 in response to the increasing number of cyberbullying related incidents of depression, eating disorders, social isolation, self-harm and suicides devastating lives around the world. Cybersmile provides support to victims and their friends and families through social media interaction, email and helpline support. They also run an annual event, Stop Cyberbullying Day, to draw attention to the issue.
There are multiple non-profit organizations that fight cyberbullying and cyberstalking. They advise victims, provide awareness campaigns, and report offenses to the police. These NGOs include the Protégeles, PantallasAmigas, Foundation Alia2, the non-profit initiative Actúa Contra el Ciberacoso, the National Communications Technology Institute (INTECO), the Agency of Internet quality, the Agencia Española de Protección de Datos, the Oficina de Seguridad del Internauta, the Spanish Internet users' Association, the Internauts' Association, and the Spanish Association of Mothers and Parents Internauts. The Government of Castile and León has also created a Plan de Prevención del Ciberacoso y Promoción de la Navegación Segura en Centro Escolares, and the Government of the Canary Islands has created a portal on the phenomenon called Viveinternet.
In March 2007, the Advertising Council in the United States, in partnership with the National Crime Prevention Council, U.S. Department of Justice, and Crime Prevention Coalition of America, joined to announce the launch of a new public service advertising campaign designed to educate preteens and teens about how they can play a role in ending cyber-bullying.
January 20, 2008 – the Boy Scouts of America's 2008 edition of The Boy Scout Handbook addresses how to deal with online bullying. A new First Class rank requirements adds: "Describe the three things you should avoid doing related to use of the Internet. Describe a cyberbully and how you should respond to one."
January 31, 2008 – KTTV Fox 11 News based in Los Angeles put out a report about organized cyber-bullying on sites like Stickam by people who call themselves "/b/rothas". The site had put out report on July 26, 2007, about a subject that partly featured cyberbullying titled "hackers on steroids".
June 2, 2008 – Parents, teens, teachers, and Internet executives came together at Wired Safety's International Stop Cyberbullying Conference, a two-day gathering in White Plains, New York and New York City. Executives from Facebook, Verizon, MySpace, Microsoft, and many others talked with hundreds about how to better protect themselves, personal reputations, children and businesses online from harassment. Sponsors of the conference included McAfee, AOL, Disney, Procter & Gamble, Girl Scouts of the USA, WiredTrust, Children's Safety Research and Innovation Centre, KidZui.com and others. Cyberharassment vs. cyberbullying was a forefront topic, where age makes a difference and abusive internet behavior by adults with repeated clear intent to harm, ridicule or damage a person or business was classified as stalking harassment vs. bullying by teens and young adults.
August 2012 – A new organized movement to make revenge porn illegal began in August 2012. It is known as End Revenge Porn. Currently revenge porn is only illegal in two states, but the demand for its criminalization is on the rise as digital technology has increased in the past few generations. The organization seeks to provide support for victims, educate the public, and gain activist support to bring new legislation before the United States Government.
In 2006, PACER.org created a week long event that was held once a year in October. Today, the campaign is a monthlong event and is now known as the National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.
Originated in Canada, Anti-Bullying day is a day of celebration for those who choose to participate wearing a symbol of colours (Pink, Blue or Purple) as a stance against bullying. A B.C. teacher founded the Stop A Bully movement, which uses pink wristbands to represent the wearer's stance to stop bullying.
Pink Shirt Day was inspired by David Shepherd and Travis Price. Their high school friends organized a protest in sympathy for a Grade 9 boy who was bullied for wearing a pink shirt. Their stance from wearing pink has been a huge inspiration in the Great Vancouver Mainland. "We know that victims of bullying, witnesses of bullying and bullies themselves all experience the very real and long term negative impacts of bullying regardless of its forms – physical, verbal, written, or on-line (cyberbullying)".
The ERASE (Expect Respect and A Safe Education) is an initiative started by the province of British Columbia to foster safe schools and prevent bullying. It builds on already-effective programs set up by the provincial government to ensure consistent policies and practices regarding the prevention of bullying.
A number organizations are in coalition to provide awareness, protection and recourse for the escalating problem. Some aim to inform and provide measures to avoid as well as effectively terminate cyberbullying and cyberharassment. Anti-bullying charity Act Against Bullying launched the CyberKind campaign in August 2009 to promote positive internet usage.
In 2007, YouTube introduced the first Anti-Bullying Channel for youth, (BeatBullying) engaging the assistance of celebrities to tackle the problem.
In March 2010, a 17-year-old girl named Alexis Skye Pilkington was found dead in her room by her parents. Her parents claimed that after repeated cyberbullying, she was driven to suicide. Shortly after her death, attacks resumed. Members of eBaums World began to troll teens' memorial pages on Facebook, with the comments including expressions of pleasure over the death, with pictures of what seemed to be a banana as their profile pictures. Family and friends of the deceased teen responded by creating Facebook groups denouncing cyberbullying and trolling, with logos of bananas behind a red circle with a diagonal line through it.
In response and partnership to the 2011 film Bully, a grassroots effort to stop cyberbullying called The Bully Project was created. Their goal is "sparked a national movement to stop bullying that is transforming children's lives and changing a culture of bullying into one of empathy and action."
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- Patchin, J. & Hinduja, S. (2006). Bullies Move beyond the Schoolyard: A Preliminary Look at Cyberbullying. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice', 4(2), 148–169.
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- Frederick S. Lane, (Chicago: NTI Upstream, 2011)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cyberbullying.|
|Look up cyberbully in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Cyberbullying Research Center
- Cyberbullying at Stopbullying.gov
- Cyberbullying Searchable Information Center, ebrary
- Cyberbullying.org.nz – Cyberbullying information, support, and teaching resources from the New Zealand non-profit NetSafe, including the short film At a Distance
- Cyberhelp.eu – practical advice for teachers and guardians
- Cyberbullying in Australia Australian Cyberbullying resource for teenagers
- Cyberbullying – What is Cyberbullying?
- Media Smarts – Cyberbullying
- Bad Behavior Online: Bullying, Trolling & Free Speech Video produced by Off Book (web series)