Cyberbullying: Intimidation Through Technology

Posted on September 21, 2012 by





Bullies are no longer relegated to the schoolyard. In a society where we are connected 24/7, even a child or teen’s home isn’t the safe haven it used to be. Bullies have constant access to victims. Cyberbullying refers to the use of technology to embarrass, threaten, harass, or target others in a way that is deliberate, hostile, and repeated. Victims of cyberbullying tend to be victims of real-life bullying as well, compounding the risk of depression, anxiety, and suicide.


Any child, teen, or even adult with access to the Internet or a cell phone can be targeted. In many cases, those at the mercy of cyberbullies are reluctant to report it. Incidents like receiving hateful text messages or hurtful comments on a status update are easy to identify and trace. However, actions such as impersonating a victim via social media, posting embarrassing photos or videos, or using fake accounts to harass someone, are difficult to pin down.


Research conducted for the National Crime Prevention Council revealed that 43-percent of teens, ages 13 through 17 have experienced some degree of cyberbullying in the last year. It was also determined that cyberbullying is more common among females ages 15- and 16-years old.


Cyberbullying has become increasingly more vicious. In 2010, 15-year-old Phoebe Prince committed suicide after incessant Internet bullying by classmates. In an interview with “Good Morning America,” Internet safety expert and lawyer Parry Aftab said, “The schoolyard bullies beat you up and then go home. The cyberbullies beat you up at home, at grandma’s house, wherever you’re connected to technology.”


Aftab said in cases such as that of Prince, victims should “stop, block and tell,” refrain from reading offensive messages, block bullies from their Internet account, and tell an adult. She noted that 41 states and the District of Columbia have measures against bullying and 23 states have statutes targeted to cyberbullying.


Experts recommend educating kids and teens about the consequences of cyberbullying. Victims should avoid trying to get revenge, refrain from posting personal information, keep passwords a secret, save all conversations with the bully and report it to an adult or law enforcement official. As the issue gains more attention, awareness has increased. Many experts believe that prevention starts at home and parents should familiarize themselves concerning the growing trend.


Social media, e-mail, and other forms of technology can play a positive role in students’ lives by providing platforms for learning, keeping in touch with teachers, parents, guardians, and friends, and exchanging ideas. Yet it’s essential for teens to limit Internet time, develop hobbies and interests outside of the home, and cultivate a support system. Web-based applications don’t create bullies. Bullies lack social skills and now hide behind the guise of anonymity. In most cases, behavior can be tracked and anonymity isn’t actually a reality.


For further information and tips for preventing cyberbullying, visit the National Crime Prevention Council site.

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