Cyberbullying Essay

Total Length: 2826 words ( 9 double-spaced pages)

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Abstract 

Bullying has been around since the beginning of recorded history, and probably well before then, as well.  However, many people express a belief that people are becoming more aware of and sensitive to bullying.  While it may be true that there is a heightened awareness of bullying, the increased sensitivity to bullies may be a misconception.  The nature of bullying has changed and evolved with technological changes.  With the advent of cyberbullying, victims are no longer able to escape from bullies.  Instead, bullies can follow victims into almost any setting.  The inability of victims to escape from their bullies for even small amounts of time seems to be exacerbating the impact of those bullies.  Victims seem more vulnerable, and victims may be taking dramatic actions, up to and including suicide, in the hopes of ending the bullying.  In this article, the author discusses cyberbullying.  The discussion begins with a definition of cyberbullying.  Next, it discusses the statistics surrounding cyberbullying.  As technology has evolved, so have laws, and the article discusses laws addressing cyberbullying.  Then, the author provides the reader with some examples of cyberbullying, and contrasts bullying with mean behavior that does not reach the level of bullying.  The author addresses the small and large effects of cyberbullying.  Finally, the author discusses some tips on how to prevent cyberbullying.  

Introduction

Bullying is a seemingly straightforward concept, which can be surprisingly difficult to discuss.  That is because there is some disagreement about what type of behaviors constitute bullying.  In fact, as awareness of bullying as a social problem has grown, so has the tendency to label non-bullying behaviors as bullying.  While it is never pleasant for people to be ugly or mean to each other, not all unwanted behaviors properly fall under the bullying umbrella.  Including them there only confuses real discussions about bullying.  That is because bullying is often dismissed as a normal type of behavior. While being mean or aggressive on occasion may be within the range of normal behaviors, bullying behavior really does fall outside of the norm.  Normalizing it by conflating it with any type of aggression makes it difficult to identify bullying and successfully intervene in it.  

In addition, many school districts have unwittingly taken actions that may actually help bullies.  That is because many schools have adopted zero-tolerance policies.  The goal of these policies it to eradicate bullying behavior by intervening at the first sign of behaviors that could signal a bullying problem.  Unfortunately, when the behaviors are treated without a thorough examination of the underlying context, the result is often that the victim of bullying receives the same punishment as the actual bullies.  That is because bullying is not the same as aggressive or even violent behavior. 

Instead, refers to a pattern of behavior.  “Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.  The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2019).  

When considered in the context of this definition, it becomes clear that bullying is extremely context dependent.  The very same behaviors that are bullying in one scenario may not be bullying in another scenario.  That is because of the balance of power.  “Kids who bully use their power- such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity- to control or harm others” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2019).  However, it is also important to realize that power can shift, even when discussing a closed group of people.
 Victims can hit a growth spurt and become much bigger than bullies, get embarrassing information that allows them to be in a bullying position, or simply become more popular.  Therefore, while history between the victim and the bully can be important, it is equally important to realize that it may not be determinative.

Cyberbullying Definition

Cyberbullying refers to “the use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target another person.  By definition, it occurs among young people.  When an adult is involved, it may meet the definition of cyber-harassment or cyberstalking, a crime that can have legal consequences and involve jail time” (Hirsch, 2014).   Some types of behavior that may be included in cyberbullying include threatening behavior, spreading rumors, spreading embarrassing pictures or texts, verbal attacks, and excluding people.  One way that…

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…access to being bullied.  In addition, if a parent suspects bullying, it can be important to make sure that a child only has supervised access to social media or other forms of technology.  

Preventing bullying is not just the responsibility of the parent of the victim; it is also important that the parents of bullies work to prevent bullying.  This can be very difficult for parents, because most parents who discover that their children are bullies have to deal with their own emotions about that discovery.  It is important to help the bully empathize with their victim, making sure that bullies fully understand all of the consequences of their actions.  It is also important to ensure that bullies face consequences for their actions.  This can mean taking away access to technology, including removing their ability to use cell phones or computers if they are using that technology to bully others.  Any child who has used technology to bully someone in the past should have strict parental controls on all devices and not be allowed unsupervised access to technology. 

Of course, preventing bullying is not just about preventing the bully’s ability to engage in acts of bullying.  Bullying behavior comes from somewhere, and preventing bullying often requires finding out what is causing the behavior.  Parents who discover that their children are bullying other children should incorporate every available tool to help address that behavior, including asking counselors and teachers to assist.  In addition, parents may need to seek private treatment options and counseling for their children.  

Conclusion

Cyberbullying is a complex issue, which does not have any single solution.  The definition of bullying, including cyberbullying, is an evolving one, which is constantly changing as technology evolves.  The inability to escape this bullying has upped the consequences for many victims, with some victims even choosing suicide as a means to escape the bullying.  Given how serious the consequences of cyberbullying can be, it is important to continue to discuss the issue, even if there are no easy answers or solutions to the problem.
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References

Common Sense Media.  “Cyberbullying: What You Need to Know.”  Understood.  2019.  https://www.understood.org/en/friends-feelings/child-social-situations/online-activities-social-media/cyberbullying-what-you-need-to-know.  Accessed 22 July 2019.  

Findlaw.  “Cyberbullying Laws.”  Findlaw.  2019.  https://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/cyber-bullying.html.  Accessed 22 July 2019.  

Hirsch, Larissa.  “Cyberbullying.”  Kids Health.  June 2014.  https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/cyberbullying.html.  Accessed 22 July 2019.

Pacer.  “Cyberbullying.”  Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center.  2019. https://www.pacer.org/bullying/resources/cyberbullying/.  Accessed 22 July 2019.  

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  “What is Bullying?”  Stop Bullying.  30 May  2019.  https://www.stopbullying.gov/what-is-bullying/index.html.  Accessed 22 July 2019. 
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