Cyberbullying is the use of any form of electronic media to harass,intimidate, assault, demean, defame or otherwise portray thepersonality or character of another person in negative light.Typically, the term is used with respect to pre-teen or teenagepopulations. Cyber bullying is increasingly become popular withintoday’s society, and is most prevalent among school or collegegoing children (Kuykendall 5). Even though most cases of the vice arenot of a serious nature and most youth and pre-teens have engaged init for some kind of fun, it is a potentially catastrophic behaviorthat has been documented to lead to several deaths by suicide,including those of Megan Meier, Ryan Halligan and Tyler Clementi.This paper will discuss the various forms of cyber bullying andsuggest possible solutions to the behavior
Methodsof Cyber Bullying
Inthe current world, almost every youth, teen and pre-teen is using oneof several kinds of electronic devices that can help them connectwith other people wirelessly, usually through the internet or throughcellular communication technology that supports any of the avenues ofcommunication such as instant and short messaging services. Accordingto a research by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, 2013,about 78% of all teens in the US have a mobile phone, and 47% ofthese are smart phones. In addition, one in every four teens has asmart tablet computer, a figure similar to that of adults. Theresearch also found that 93% of all teens either own or otherwisehave access to a computer. Of these, 74% of teens have internetaccess using their phones, tablets or other devices. In additional55% of teenage girls use internet on their phone mostly (Madden et al7). The high number of device users who use mobile phones, deviceswith which they are likely not to be detached, makes it possible forcyber bullying to be so prevalent. In order to understand and combatcyber bullying, the sections below will look at the methods ofbullying.
ShortMessaging Texts (SMS)
Virtuallyall mobile phones have the capability to send SMS texts. With teenageand youth having almost 100% access to phones in the US and othermajor economies, it is very commonplace to send and receive SMS textsby young people. However, SMS texts can be used with surprisinglyefficient to advance cyber bullying motives. The use of textmessaging is so prevalent and so successful because the recipientusually has little choice but to receive the text, even against theirwill. This is true especially for the carrier networks that do notsupport barring for texts only, making it impossible to reject textsonly from people one does not want to communicate with. This happensdespite the fact that most mobile phone texts are sent and destinedwithin a country’s locality, and all mobile numbers are registeredin most countries thereby making it easy to trace offenders (Maddenet al 10).
Inthe mechanism of use, SMS can be sent repeatedly be sent to a personwith the intention of offending, threatening, scaring or embarrassingthe person. In addition, SMS can be sent to different people whocollectively advance offensive or demeaning words against a person,affecting their integrity or self esteem sometimes to the point ofpsychological torture. According to the Center for Disease Control,16% of all cyber bullying happens through text messages
Chatrooms are social avenues of user engagement which allow multiplenetwork users to communicate ideas or conversations in a way thateveryone logged in can view every other person’s contributionsimmediately they are made. Modern chat room environments aresupported by various social media environments such as Facebook amongothers. CDC statistics indicate that 25 % of all bullying incidentshappen through chat rooms (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention1).
Electronicbullying through websites is not as prevalent as in chat rooms, butis still strongly prevalent. According to CDC, 23% of youth reportedhaving been bullied at one point through websites. Such bullyinghappens mainly at blogging sites where individuals write theircontributions after logging in. mostly the blogging community has nophysical knowledge of each other, and therefore feel less obliged totreat other contributors with dignity and respect. The result is thatmany people recklessly comment on other people or their views, in amanner that demeans or threatens them (Centers for Disease Controland Prevention 1).
Theprevalence for email bullying in relation to the others was 25%.Email cyber bullying usually happens between people who have previousknowledge of each other, but may happen between strangers. Normally,mail bullies also incorporate support by copying emails to otherpeople who they feel will corroborate their feelings towards thevictim, or people who, if they were to know the emails contents wouldcause embarrassment, fear, reduced dignity and self esteem to thevictim.
Thisis by far the most prevalent method of cyber bullying among youth. At67%, it is more than double the rate of any other method of bullying.The high percentage of bullies using this method is representative ofthe large percentage of youth generally using instant messaging assocializing tools. Instant messaging typically happens betweenpeople with previous knowledge of each other, and who may usuallyseparately include each other in a friends list in order for theonline application to connect them. Instant messaging popularity hasmade it a successful avenue for bullying, especially as it hasmulti-cast features that resemble messaging conferencing to allow allusers instant access to a message for one member.
Severalstates have already introduced legislation to control this trend,especially after several suicides were directly associated with it.Specifically New York, Maryland, and Rhode Island have put in placelegislation to put it to an end. In addition, more than half thestates are already processing legislation to prevent digitalharassment. Federal regulations have also established as a crime anythreat made over the internet.
Schoolsare the number one medium through bullying is first conceptualized,as most of the bullies and victims are usually localized within aschool, community, social event or family. Schools, therefore, are atthe forefront of authorities best placed to control this vice.Following the rising cases of bullying started due to the partiesschool involvement, it should be made the school’s obligation topunish severely perpetrators of cyber bullying. In order to achievethis, legislation should be deliberated on a national level andimplemented in every school’s code of students’ behavior as afundamental requirement, much as juvenile crime is handled (Centersfor Disease Control and Prevention 1).
Mattersregarding any level of bullying should be handled by theadministration in collaboration with the perpetrator, victim andtheir parents the first moment it occurs. Repeat offenders should beexpelled from the particular school, or handed to the police or thestate’s corrective facilities or rehabilitation centers for timelyintervention. Such a stern outlook towards cyber bullying should bemade important in view of the vice’s potentially viral explosion inthe near future, and this especially in consideration of the fatalpossibilities in its regular outcome (Kuykendall 13).
Cyberbullying among youth is an issue that is likely to rapidly expand astheir access to modern mobile devices with access to internet rises,coupled with the difficulty of parental monitoring in their usage ofmobile devices when accessing the internet. To combat this vice, thestate and all schools at all academic levels should enforce strictdisciplinary and punitive measures to handle it when it happens atschool, or anywhere else provided it can be traced back to havingoriginated in the course of school interactions.
Centersfor Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Bullying: What Does theResearch Say? Web. 2013. Available at
Kuykendall,Sally. Bullying.ABC-CLIO, 2012
Madden,Marry. et al. Teensand Technology 2013.PewResearchCenter. 2013. Available athttp://www.pewinternet.org/files/old-media/Files/Reports/2013/PIP_TeensandTechnology2013.pdf