I am writing this essay as I have been extremely moved by the recent suicide of a teenage girl in Ireland. Erin Gallagher a 13 year old girl from Donegal took her own life because of vicious online bullying. Her recent suicide adds to the growing number of teenage suicides not just in Ireland but worldwide that have been caused by bullying and cyber bullying or a combination of both. The issue of cyber bullying is something that needs to be addressed immediately both in the home and in schools. UNICEF carried out a study on bullying in Ireland and the results were staggering to say the least. 55% of children questioned admitted to being bullied in one form or another (Changing the Future, 2010). This essay will set out to define bullying and talk about the different types of bullying concentrating on the more recent problem of online bullying. With the growth of the internet since the 1990’s there has been a massive increase in the ways in which people can be bullied. The power of the internet has made it increasingly easier to attack and abuse people and the internet also provide people with the ability to hide behind a pseudonym appearing anonymous. This essay will also focus on what supports are in place for victims of bullying and similarly on what is being done to raise awareness and educate children and adults alike. Preventing bullying and cyber bullying is the only way to really stamp out this issue once and for all and later this essay will examine what prevention methods have been implicated and introduced to combat this ever increasing worldwide phenomenon.
Bullying can be defined as an aggressive behaviour that causes intentional harm, is often repetitive, and usually involves an imbalance of power (Olweus cited in Jose et al 2012). There are many different variations on the definition of bullying but they all have common factors. Barnardos defines bullying on their website as: “Bullying is repeated aggression, verbal, psychological or physical, racial, sexual or relational, conducted by an individual or group against others “(Cool School Anti Bullying Programme cited on Barnardos 2012). Campbell (2005) stated that history didn’t see bullying as a problem that needed attention, but rather something that had been accepted as a fundamental and normal part of childhood. However over the last number of decades bullying has become a serious problem that warrants attention. The ease of access to powerful communication tools such as social networking websites, video and photograph sharing sites, internet enabled camera-phones and games consoles means that, all over the world, people are saying new things in new ways to new audiences. Individuals are sharing ideas and views like never before. Email, instant messaging, texting, and social networking sites such as: Bebo, Facebook, MySpace and Nimble, are allowing children in Ireland to connect with each other and engage with society in ways that were previously unimaginable (Get With It, 2012). Cyber bullying refers to bullying which is carried out using the internet, mobile phone or other technological devices (Get With It, 2012).
Cyber bullying shares similar traits with traditional bullying but with extra characteristics. According to R.J. Hazler (1997) an action is considered to be bullying when: The person being bullied is harmed by the physical, verbal or social/emotional tactics employed by the bully, when there is a power imbalance or unfair match between the bully and the victims, that is, the bully is perceived to be either physically stronger or more verbally or socially skilled than his or her victims and when the harmful actions are repeated over time. Cyber bullying involves the extra defining features that these actions are placed through a technological device such as a computer or mobile phone. Now that cyber bullying has being somewhat defined it’s important to look at the risk factors...