What is bullying? Simply said, bullying is abuse. It is often persistent and can include such things as threatening, fault finding, insulting or frightening. anything that abuses power thrives on an imbalance of power. The bully likes to use his or her power to make the victim react.
What are the types of bullying? There are many different types of bulling. The more traditional forms of bullying include physical bullying such as hitting and shoving and threats of physical harm, verbal bullying such as mocking, teasing and name calling and emotional bullying such as exclusion from social groups or events and rumor spreading. The newest form of bullying is cyber-bullying which uses email, instant messages, websites and text messaging, for example, to harass someone in the form of threatening, mocking, teasing, name calling, excluding and rumor spreading.
How is cyber-bullying different than traditional bullying? The biggest different between cyber-bullying and traditional bullying is that the time and place of the bullying changes. In traditional bullying, the victim can usually retreat to his or her house for a reprieve from the harassment. Home is usually a safe-haven. With cyber-bullying, victims often cannot escape the abuse because the technology of email, text messages, instant messages, the Internet and cell phones give bullies constant access to their victims. Oftentimes, bullies cannot wait to get home from school so that they can continue to terrorize their victims. Additionally, cyber-bullying is different from traditional bullying because rumors and other information can spread so much more quickly with technology than it can spread traditionally. Someone can spread a rumor about another person to everyone on their buddy list with the click of a button – almost instantly, ten, twenty or even a hundred people can read a rumor and begin spreading to people they know.
Why is cyber-bullying so much worse than traditional bullying? The biggest reason why cyber-bullying is so much worse than traditional bullying is that there is no defined time or location for the bullying. The victim is almost always reachable through the advances in technology. This makes cyber-bullying so much more invasive than traditional bullying because the victim literally has an extremely difficult time escaping from the harassment. Additionally, cyber-bullying can occur around the clock. Even if the victim isn’t using the Internet twenty-four hours a day, he or she might get home from school or wake up in the morning to an inbox full of threatening messages. Traditional bullying has a relatively small audience. Only the people in the direct vicinity of the bullying are there to see the victim’s humiliation, but with cyber-bullying there can be literally hundreds or thousands (or more) of people watching the conversation or visiting an embarrassing website.
A final reason why cyber-bullying is so terrible is the idea that when people have the “protection” of not seeing their victim face-to-face they are often more cruel and do and say things they would never do in person.
What are some examples of cyber-bullying?
Cyber-bullying can take many different forms. It can be direct bullying where people send vicious and/or threatening messages to their victim’s cell phone or email or they write the messages to the victim in a chat room or via instant messaging. This is also called cyber stalking.
There is also indirect cyber-bullying, also called denigration, where a person or group of people creates websites that have cartoons, photographs or videos that can potential humiliate another person. These websites can also have “incriminating” stories (true or not) and jokes that ridicule others. Another tactic common to cyber-bullying is when people post surveys on the web asking people to vote for “the most (offensive comment)” in the class.
Instant messaging can be confusing for victims of cyber-bullying because sometimes, often girls, will decide to victimize another girl. This happens when a group of girls are together and they go online and seek out someone to victimize. The group poses as just one person and starts a conversation. Then, they eventually get the victim to say something mean or insulting about one of the other girls in the group and use that information to harass the victim. This is also called trickery.
Another type is impersonation. This is when cyber bullies break into someone else’s email account. They pose as this other person and send insulting or rude messages to another person. The bully then sits back and watching the fight with the satisfaction that he or she started the conflict.
Camera phones can also be quite useful for bullies. There have been reported incidents of people taking photos of school mates in the locker while changing. These pictures can be circulated to large numbers of students in a very short period of time to private or online groups. Sending these pictures or other hateful or otherwise harmful messages is known as flaming.
Read Part One of Cyber Bullying here.