Adolescent expressions of frustration and discontent that used to be whispered in hallways are now being graphically broadcast on Web pages, as well as much darker feelings that cannot be ignored by educators (Conn, 2001). Canadian Bill Belsey coined this as “Cyberbullying” (Belsey, 2004). There are reports of cyberbullying leading to suicide, school violence (including one school murder), school failure, and school avoidance (Willard, 2006). Cyberbullying is the new form of bullying that makes use of the diverse range of technology now available. The National Children’s Home says that this phenomenon which includes using email, text, chat rooms, mobile phones, mobile phone cameras and web sites to harass or bully others is being used by children and adolescents world wide. The Internet is unique in that it is a person-to-person communication and it can also be used as a mass medium, like the radio or television (Campbell, 2005). Therefore when the Internet is used for something destructive such as bullying, the long-term effects can reach more people, resulting in more serious damage to a person’s psyche. Online communication can be extremely vicious, students who normally wouldn’t say such hurtful and outrageous things are empowered by the anonymity and the fact that their victim is not directly in front of them. The fact that there is no escape for those who are being cyberbullied-victimization can happen 24/7, distinguishes cyberbullying from traditional bullying. Willard also says the anonymity provided by the Internet can do more than just empower bullies; it can make it harder for victims to cope. “If you have no idea who is bullying you, it can damage your relationships with everybody (Willard, 2006). Bullying; what it is and prevalence:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reports that bullying can be considered the most prevalent form of youth violence and may escalate into extremely serious forms of antisocial behavior. The surgeon general’s task force on youth violence reports about 30 to 40 percent of male and 16 to 32 percent of female youths committed a serious violent offense by age 17 (DHHS, 2001). According to Stephenson and Smith (as cited in Patchin & Hinduja, 2006), bullying is a form of social interaction in which a more dominant individual (the bully) exhibits aggressive behavior which is intended to and does, in fact, cause distress to a less dominant individual (the victim). The aggressive behavior may take the form of a direct physical and/or verbal attack or may be indirect as when the bully hides a possession that belongs to the victim or spreads false information about the victim. According to research by Beal, bullying represents a significant problem in our nation’s schools. The National School Safety Center (NSSC) called bullying the most enduring and underrated problem in U.S. schools (1995).
• In a recent national study, nearly 30 percent of the students surveyed reported being involved in bullying in the current term as either a perpetrator or a victim. According to Nansel et al, (2001) this translates to 3,708,284 students reporting bullying and 3,245,904 students reporting victimization. • One in six children report being bullied at least once a week, although that figure was as high as 50% if the duration of bullying is taken as lasting only one week (Smith & Shu, 2000). • In a study by Mynard, Joseph, & Alexander done in 2000 as many as 40% of adolescents reported having been bullied at some time during their schooling. • Glew et al., reported that more than one in five middle school students said that they avoid restrooms at school out of fear of being bullied, and another study suggested that at least 20 percent of all students are frightened during much of their school day (2000). Common Characteristics of Bullies and Victims
According to the National...