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Cyberbullying: What Is Cyberbullying and How to Stop It

Little girl and boy sitting on sofa with a laptop computer at home. Happy children playing indoors using PC.Katie from CallerSmart wrote that cyberbullying affects countless teens and adolescents. A 2019 study of 4,972 middle and high school students in the United States between the ages of 12 and 17 shows that 36.5% of the students have been cyberbullied in their lifetimes. Other studies report that 60% of young people had witnessed their peers being bullied, but they didn’t intervene for fear of becoming targets themselves. Victims of online bullying are much more likely to use alcohol and drugs, avoid school, have poor grades, experience depression and low self-esteem, and may even contemplate suicide.

What Is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is a broad term and is any form of abuse repeatedly directed at a child through technology by another child. According to “Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying,” cyberbullying is defined as “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.” 

The difference between traditional bullying, which takes place in person, and cyberbullying, is that the latter must involve the use of technology. Additionally, to be defined as cyberbullying, the interaction between two or more people must contain the following elements:

  • The action must be willfulThe behavior has to be intentional, not accidental.
  • The incident must have occurred more than once. Bullying reflects a repeated pattern of behavior.
  • The victim must perceive that harm was inflicted.

Cyberbullying takes place online through social media sites, like Facebook or Snapchat, in chat rooms, or via instant messages or text messages on their mobile phones. Types of cyberbullying include:

  • Sharing and posting videos or photos on social media of a person that are cruel in intention or violent.
  • Sharing and posting videos or photos on social media or via text messages that are sexually explicit or display violent sexual behavior.
  • Making threats of physical harm towards a person or telling someone to kill themselves via email, text, or social media. Threats may also include family members.
  • Attacking a person online or via text messages regarding their physical appearance, religion, sexuality, disability, or mental ability, or mental health.
  • Impersonating another person online to trick someone into revealing personal details, and then sharing it with others.
  • Hacking into another person’s social networking sites, instant messaging apps, or email to send false and cruel messages to others.

With 95% of teens reporting going online at least once daily and 45% stating that they are “online constantly,” the amount of potential exposure to cyberbullying is high. Unlike bullying, cyberbullying can be unrelenting and seem inescapable since it is online and on mobile phones. It can happen at any time of the day, follows pre-teens and teens home after school, and is often completely anonymous.

Cyberbullies can create fake social media profiles and download apps that provide temporary disposable numbers that allow them to send threatening text messages without the victim knowing the identity of their attacker.

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