Cyberbullying

Moderated by Leah Wing

 

As information communication technology has become intricately woven into our lives, humans have harnessed their capacity for extraordinarily creative innovations to foster human connection across time and space.  Yet, sadly and perhaps not unexpectedly, we have also brought into new ICT forums our capacity for cruelty and domination through bullying.  Do different mediums of cyberbullying (text, picture, Internet, video) produce different impacts on victims?  Can one form be more damaging than another?  What gender and cultural dynamics impact cyberbullying?  What legislation, public policies, and educational and commercial practices are in place to prevent and handle cyberbullying?  What ODR platforms and software can or are addressing this problem?  How can the strengths of ICT, such as lessening isolation, be capitalized upon to reduce the effects of Cyberbullying?

 

New challenges and opportunities face our field to contribute to the prevention and handling of bullying through ICT avenues.  Join us for this conversation!

 

A final note:  It is requested that personal identifying details of actual cases are not shared and that anyone who believes that they have or are experiencing cyberbullying seek assistance from those whom they trust since this forum cannot serve as a source for handling such cases. 

 

One link among many which can be of help is:  

http://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/how-to-report/index.html

 

Moderator Bio:

Leah Wing is Co-Director, National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution http://odr.info is Senior Lecturer, Legal Studies Program, Political Science Department, University of Massachusetts/Amherst (US) and is founding director of the Social Justice Mediation Institute.  She has served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Conflict Resolution (2002-6) and has been a member of the editorial board of Conflict Resolution Quarterly since 2002.  Her publications concentrate on the critical examination of conflict transformation theory and practices in both the online and offline worlds and her most recent publication is “Online Dispute Resolution and the Development of Theory” co-authored with Dan Rainey in M. Waahab, D. Rainey and E. Katsh, Online Dispute Resolution: Theory and Practice (2012). 

 

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Krista!

Thanks for the summary of the discussion so far. I just wanted to share a few graphs I have found to further illustrate the idea that girls tend to be the more frequent culprits of cyber-bullying as well as being the cyber-bully.

as well as

I hope those give a visual to the discussion.

Krista Grace Jessacher said:

Leah - This is one of the best cyberbullying discussions I've seen.  Really impressive.  Thank you.

Best Quote: "If children can get away with cyber bullying in middle and high school, arguably this will feed into a behavior that causes workplace cyber bullying as they get older." Ashley Berger

Bill Warters is really insightful with this comment that a cyberbully will:  "..use his/her technical skills to equalize or retaliate for other perceived wrongs."

I found this really helpful: Daniel Rainey and Bill Warters explaining the old view of bullying as us/them and the target as different from or "other" from the group.

Milos Dilkic is realistic with the comment that bullies derive entertainment "very good joke" from the bullying

Possible Red Herring - specifying that girls more likely to bully online/text, whereas boys are direct with confrontation.  Also we should consider passive agressive behaviour as another possible category of cyberbullying (similar to the withheld promotion).

Excellent Suggestion - Ombudsman office for school disputes about bullying. 

I agree with Leah that we need more analysis of techno bullying in the workplace.  Ashley Berger's comment that premature results are showing cyberbullying taking place alongside F2F bullying - I agree completely.  Same personality, just different medium expressing the same message (with possible amplification).

Fears of "forever comments" and "forever photos" - I am encouraging sites to stop archiving so much stuff.  It isn't the responsibility of these social sites to keep the chit/chat forever. 

There were two more reported teen deaths from cyberbullying.  I read the Irish newspaper article this morning.  Our court system here in Canada is looking for more good journal articles on cyberbullying to refer to in their judgments.  I would like our judges to be "courtroom ready" on the topic of cyberbullying and good research/experts are essential.

I am encouraging:

-parents to ask if their school has a cybermentor program

-schools and social sites to have easy2use anon mechanism to report cyberbullying

-developing roving consultants who understand the essence of conflict to help guide schools and employers as the cyberbullying incidents flare up.  Training is essential, but when those situations flare up, an outside consultant is often needed.

 

In development - more study needed on extent of listening in on electronic chit/chat by family members/partners etc. , reading their messages without their knowledge. 

 

Much of the research done on cyber-bullying does focus on the school environment because many adults or those who are in a work place community may be hesitant in using the technology that younger generations are so attached too.  Also, since the internet use (email/chat) is not being monitored by parents (most of the time) it is easier to become anonymous.  Many times in the work place the company is monitoring all computer activity making it almost impossible to become anonymous without leaving a trace of who one is.  Once this sense of anonymity is taken some of the draw of online bullying might decrease.  

Daniel Rainey said:

Thanks for hosting this, Leah.  I think Bill is right about the essential "us-them" or "the other" element in cyber-bullying, and indeed in bullying generally.  It seems most of the discussion around cyber-bullying is focused on school environments and younger users of technology.  Is there much research or writing about cyber-bullying involving adults, workplace, etc.?

Just to add emphasis to Ashley's point that girls more often than not tend to be more involved with cyber-bullying here is a statistic I have found:

“38% of online girls report being bullied, compared with 26% of online boys. In particular, 41% of older girls (15-17) report being bullied—more than any other age or gender group”. (http://www.covenanteyes.com/2012/01/17/bullying-statistics-fast-fac...)

 

This graph (taken from a European survey) shows that as age increases girls are more likely to use the internet as a tool to bully others:

http://liesdamnedliesstatistics.com/2011/01/european-kids-use-the-i...


Ashley Berger said:

Hi Krista!

Thanks for the summary of the discussion so far. I just wanted to share a few graphs I have found to further illustrate the idea that girls tend to be the more frequent culprits of cyber-bullying as well as being the cyber-bully.

as well as

I hope those give a visual to the discussion.

Krista Grace Jessacher said:

Leah - This is one of the best cyberbullying discussions I've seen.  Really impressive.  Thank you.

Best Quote: "If children can get away with cyber bullying in middle and high school, arguably this will feed into a behavior that causes workplace cyber bullying as they get older." Ashley Berger

Bill Warters is really insightful with this comment that a cyberbully will:  "..use his/her technical skills to equalize or retaliate for other perceived wrongs."

I found this really helpful: Daniel Rainey and Bill Warters explaining the old view of bullying as us/them and the target as different from or "other" from the group.

Milos Dilkic is realistic with the comment that bullies derive entertainment "very good joke" from the bullying

Possible Red Herring - specifying that girls more likely to bully online/text, whereas boys are direct with confrontation.  Also we should consider passive agressive behaviour as another possible category of cyberbullying (similar to the withheld promotion).

Excellent Suggestion - Ombudsman office for school disputes about bullying. 

I agree with Leah that we need more analysis of techno bullying in the workplace.  Ashley Berger's comment that premature results are showing cyberbullying taking place alongside F2F bullying - I agree completely.  Same personality, just different medium expressing the same message (with possible amplification).

Fears of "forever comments" and "forever photos" - I am encouraging sites to stop archiving so much stuff.  It isn't the responsibility of these social sites to keep the chit/chat forever. 

There were two more reported teen deaths from cyberbullying.  I read the Irish newspaper article this morning.  Our court system here in Canada is looking for more good journal articles on cyberbullying to refer to in their judgments.  I would like our judges to be "courtroom ready" on the topic of cyberbullying and good research/experts are essential.

I am encouraging:

-parents to ask if their school has a cybermentor program

-schools and social sites to have easy2use anon mechanism to report cyberbullying

-developing roving consultants who understand the essence of conflict to help guide schools and employers as the cyberbullying incidents flare up.  Training is essential, but when those situations flare up, an outside consultant is often needed.

 

In development - more study needed on extent of listening in on electronic chit/chat by family members/partners etc. , reading their messages without their knowledge. 

 

I agree with what Conor is discussing and throughout my research I have continued to ask myself, why is their no educational programs in place.  In elementary and middle school, educational institutions are continually holding mandatory assemblies on the dangers of drugs, cheating, etc.  These school and government sponsored events are regarded as extremely important and necessary to the development of our youth.  They go a long way to aid young people in making the correct life choices and since their presented these programs at such a young age, it goes a long way in benefiting their lives.  So my thoughts now are, as technology and social media continue to evolve and their evolution goes hand and hand with cyber bullying, why is their not mandatory presentations for children, teachers, and parents on cyber bullying?  In my opinion, holding mandatory information sessions on cyber bullying at elementary schools, middle schools, and even work places would be extremely beneficial to the prevention of cyber bullying.  Educating children at a young age instills in them morals on what is right and wrong.  The program I am presenting would be something like DARE.  An example of the presentations I have in mind are exemplified by Dr. Hinduja and Dr. Patchin. Please look at their site and tell me what you think.  Any ideas? Would this be beneficial or too much?

http://www.cyberbullying.us/presentations.php

Conor Nolan said:

Just some more thoughts…

 

Some clear issues with bullying legislation:

-Reactionary rather than preventative

-Focuses on punishing bullies instead of curbing the behavior all together

 

Although federal and state recognition is of great significance, I believe it is incredibly important that the focus of bullying prevention be handled at the local level (including in schools, local organizations, and specifically at home). As suggested in earlier posts, I also believe the role of the parents is highly under emphasized in the scheme of things and should be brought to the forefront of bullying prevention.

 

I don’t believe legislation alone is the answer to the bullying and cyber bullying problem, but it would be a significant step (punishment may deter some from bullying but not all).

 

Education and prevention must start from the bottom up.  The make up of this “bottom level” is centered around family and the schools these children attend…so why not place the emphasis of bullying education in these powerful spheres of influence? Why do legislators often overlook the topic of bullying…it is a clear societal problem… why is there not a stronger call for federal or state action demanding such educational programs?

I agree with Matt in that forums like these would be a good starting point for younger children to learn about cyber-bullying. It is much easier to teach children with a visual aid and someone who is intriguing than their everyday teacher trying to explain a lesson of such great value to them. I think a course like this would be especially valuable because of that fact. Matt compared a talk like this to the DARE program, which many American students had to participate in at the 4th or 5th grade age level. I think what makes DARE work is the fact that it is put on by the Police Department and police officers come and talk to kids about the issues. Children pick up on the idea that the police officer is someone who is in charge and different than from who they are used to seeing every day in class. By bringing in outside speakers makes more of a lasting impression on kids.

Matthew Restivo said:

I agree with what Conor is discussing and throughout my research I have continued to ask myself, why is their no educational programs in place.  In elementary and middle school, educational institutions are continually holding mandatory assemblies on the dangers of drugs, cheating, etc.  These school and government sponsored events are regarded as extremely important and necessary to the development of our youth.  They go a long way to aid young people in making the correct life choices and since their presented these programs at such a young age, it goes a long way in benefiting their lives.  So my thoughts now are, as technology and social media continue to evolve and their evolution goes hand and hand with cyber bullying, why is their not mandatory presentations for children, teachers, and parents on cyber bullying?  In my opinion, holding mandatory information sessions on cyber bullying at elementary schools, middle schools, and even work places would be extremely beneficial to the prevention of cyber bullying.  Educating children at a young age instills in them morals on what is right and wrong.  The program I am presenting would be something like DARE.  An example of the presentations I have in mind are exemplified by Dr. Hinduja and Dr. Patchin. Please look at their site and tell me what you think.  Any ideas? Would this be beneficial or too much?

http://www.cyberbullying.us/presentations.php

Conor Nolan said:

Just some more thoughts…

 

Some clear issues with bullying legislation:

-Reactionary rather than preventative

-Focuses on punishing bullies instead of curbing the behavior all together

 

Although federal and state recognition is of great significance, I believe it is incredibly important that the focus of bullying prevention be handled at the local level (including in schools, local organizations, and specifically at home). As suggested in earlier posts, I also believe the role of the parents is highly under emphasized in the scheme of things and should be brought to the forefront of bullying prevention.

 

I don’t believe legislation alone is the answer to the bullying and cyber bullying problem, but it would be a significant step (punishment may deter some from bullying but not all).

 

Education and prevention must start from the bottom up.  The make up of this “bottom level” is centered around family and the schools these children attend…so why not place the emphasis of bullying education in these powerful spheres of influence? Why do legislators often overlook the topic of bullying…it is a clear societal problem… why is there not a stronger call for federal or state action demanding such educational programs?

I just wanted to weigh in some opinions on this question.

I believe what is missing is the educative aspect for ALL parties, not just children. Parents, teachers, coaches, and other important community role models must be aware of the seriousness of the issues of bullying. I believe too often that parents take the position of well it isn't affecting my child so therefore it must not be a problem. Or that bullying is a part of growing up and that children need to have thicker skins (the old rub some dirt on it and get back out there kind of mentality). I believe if parents and these other community models are further educated on the seriousness and detrimental consequences of bullying, they may in turn become more active in promoting prevention and intervention of bullying. 

So, in terms of easiest accessibility, could online information sessions or presentations be one of these measures/answers that we are looking for? Programs and awareness campaigns that will help educate our role models who can in turn educate and influence the children around them? In a perfect world this would seem to be the best answer...but how do you get people to participate/prove the urgency of the situation as Leah suggested?

Should programs be mandatory for those who have children in schools? Mandatory for all who become teachers or complete certification programs to become coaches in the community?

Any thoughts?


Leah Wing said:

 "what is missing that will bring more urgency and serious attention to cyberbullying so that interventions and prevention measures will be more effective and holistic?"

The vast majority of cyber and traditional bullying is done amongst children in middle school. Some suggest these students should learn at a very young age the harms that go along with being a bully. Some people suggest a “D.A.R.E equivalent” and I agree with them. However, such a program will not be the sole answer to this growing epidemic.

Parents, teachers, and other adults need to be educated on the reasons people bully, as Maire pointed out- one reason may be gender related. By recognizing that bullies enjoy “performing” in front of an audience, principals may hire more chaperones to be on the lookout for school yard bullying. This can carry over to the Internet, where a wide audience is easily accessible for the bully with a single video upload on YouTube, or sharing a picture with hundreds of friends on Facebook. It is important for parents not to ban their children from the Internet because responsible use can prove to be very beneficial to enhancing a collaborative learning experience, but they should monitor particular sites that can serve as a bully’s virtual playground. 

I agree with what Rich said however monitoring the internet is much easier said than done.  I do think that at least educators have been educated on the reasons why people bully, as a camp counselor during the summer during pre-camp we have a lecture that is designed to help us with bullying among the campers.  This lecture gives reasons why people bully, and how to handle/regulate it.  Though this is helpful when it comes to face-to-face bullying, this lecture would be meaningless when it comes to cyber bullying.  The ability to handle a problem that thousands have the ability to see or join in on is something that all people need to be educated to.  

Richard Shaughnessy said:

The vast majority of cyber and traditional bullying is done amongst children in middle school. Some suggest these students should learn at a very young age the harms that go along with being a bully. Some people suggest a “D.A.R.E equivalent” and I agree with them. However, such a program will not be the sole answer to this growing epidemic.

Parents, teachers, and other adults need to be educated on the reasons people bully, as Maire pointed out- one reason may be gender related. By recognizing that bullies enjoy “performing” in front of an audience, principals may hire more chaperones to be on the lookout for school yard bullying. This can carry over to the Internet, where a wide audience is easily accessible for the bully with a single video upload on YouTube, or sharing a picture with hundreds of friends on Facebook. It is important for parents not to ban their children from the Internet because responsible use can prove to be very beneficial to enhancing a collaborative learning experience, but they should monitor particular sites that can serve as a bully’s virtual playground. 

I suppose the effect of the bullying depends on the effect of the format prior to bullying. We appear to be more drawn to television than the radio, yes? Moving pictures with sound is more appealing to the person than listening to the radio. The more senses engaged the greater the effect. Therefore, bullying should conform to the same rules.


By that logic, videos would appear to have the greatest effect on the victim. Videos engage sound and visual stimulations which would have the greater effect of the receiver. From there, the remainder of the actions are divided by single senses. This would then become a question of whether seeing a picture, or reading a message has a greater effect. I am guessing more people flip through the pictures in magazines than read the articles, at least in a passing fashion. When I visit the doctor's office, I flip for pictures and do not have time for the articles. The ranking as such would be Video, Pictures, and Text.

One could argue text could be more dangerous than videos and pictures, and that would be an argument worth hearing. Stimulation of senses is not the only factor to be considered, the imagination of the effect can be just as great. During the American Revolution Americans used to dress up dummies as British soldiers and beat the dummy until nothing was left. A person beating up a dummy really shouldn't influence anyone, but the message and the visualization of the British soldiers created a scared environment. Words that threaten action can impose images that could be scary to the individual. Unfortunately, the more creative the victim is the worse the visualization of the threats. I never thought I would views someone's creativity as a downfall, but when it comes to bullying this may very well be the case. For this reason, text can be just as dangerous as any visual form of bullying.

The internet is more of a vehicle for bullying than an actual method in itself. Through the internet a person can choose the form of bullying they desire. This makes the internet a far more dangerous place to go because the bullying can come in a variety of forms through one vehicle.

Also present in from the internet is the idea of anonymity. Anyone could bully and his or her identity could be completely concealed. While bullying has consistently been a problem in society, the internet creates an environment where repercussions can be prolonged, or possibly absent.

What options are available when deciding to partake in the world wide web? I am a proprietor of knowledge, which removes the fear of uncertainty. Awareness these things exist takes away the mystery and perhaps contributes to a preparedness which can mitigate damages of bullying. Though we should never use bullying tactics, if we are aware the darkside exists we can recognize its presence and choose remedial action, which is hopeful as serious as the crime of bullying.

The internet can be a dangerous place and all forms of bullying are present. Regardless of pictures, videos, or texts, they all do damage. A parallel question would be to ask whether a person would rather be stabbed with a kitchen knife, a hunting knife, or a sword. They all do damage and they will all hurt, it doesn't matter which blade is chosen.

Hi Lea I'm Alberto Elisavetsky from Odr Latinoamerica, we translate you discussion to our cyberweek 2012 spanish chapter

link:  http://odrlatinoamerica.ning.com/forum/topics/acoso-moral-virtual-c...

All the best

Alberto

Cyberbullying is not only more prevalent with the influx of technology these days, but I also believe is more hurtful and devastating as seen by the influx of tween/teen suicides that are linked to bullying via social media or texting. While my generation has grown up with technology at the forefront of our education and social lives, I think it is the generation behind us that has spurred cyberbullying into what it is today.

The reason cyberbullying has exploded with technology is because we as humans, find it easier to say what we really feel or even what we don't feel when we only have to type it and don't have to face the person to whom we are communicating. It is so much easier to lie, and I think we almost think its not as bad lying via technology as it it lying in person. We text/type words we would never say if the person were standing in front of us, and we think of things we probably never would have conceived of saying had the person been in person. Technology has created a shield for us to hide behind when we throw out words we would otherwise never speak.

Cyberbullying has become one of many cons that has become associated with technology. How do you combat something that has always existed in some form in our society, but has developed into such a dangerous weapon? I think the first step is education. We will never be able to control what others think or say, however, we should be able to teach people that their words (whether spoken or typed) have an effect on others and that they are responsible for those words. We need to reinforce the age old saying "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." Our youth need to learn that it is not okay to use technology as a shield to hide behind their words.

While I firmly believe in and support the First Amendment, I feel as though our forefathers never could have fathomed that it would safeguard so many from harms they should otherwise be responsible for. Technology is a different forum of conversation unlike any other we have seen in the past. It connects people to each other in ways books, magazines, pamphlets, etc. cannot do.

Cyberbullying needs to be considered as a dangerous weapon in the hands of all, People need to be held responsible for the words they text/type, and need to learn that technology is not a shield you can hide behind. 

I completely agree with Heather. The first step is definitely education and I agree that education should be for students, parents, administers and the people who run social media sites. Just as Heather said, I believe cyberbullying is so different because our youth thinks that technology can shield them from responsibility. Education, such as a program like DARE for both children and parents, along with legislation will help cyberbullies realize that they will be held accountable for their actions online. The penalties associated with bullying in school's codes of student conduct often keep children from bullying because although the students do not fully understand the hurt bullying causes, they understand punishment. It will be even more powerful when a principal is able to say to a child that cyberbullying is not only punishable in a school, but is also punishable under the law. 

I also wonder about when cyberbullying transitions from freedom of speech to hate speech. A current phenomena called trolling has brought this question to light. Trolling is when a person bombards online forums, Facebook pages, and newspaper comment forums with provocations and threats. Supporters of trolling argue that it is about humor, mischief and freedom of speech. However, in my opinion, the ferocity and impersonal nature of the abuse verges on hate speech. Most significantly, trolling is usually carried out by young males for amusement, boredom and revenge, which shows that cyberbullying may not be so female dominated in the future. There needs to be cyberbullying legislation because psychological scars associated with cyberbullying prevents cyberbullies from hiding behind a freedom of speech claim. Most importantly, legislation must be passed in order to prevent the evolution of cyberbullying and the creation of a much larger problem for today's youth. 

Heather Colton said:

Cyberbullying is not only more prevalent with the influx of technology these days, but I also believe is more hurtful and devastating as seen by the influx of tween/teen suicides that are linked to bullying via social media or texting. While my generation has grown up with technology at the forefront of our education and social lives, I think it is the generation behind us that has spurred cyberbullying into what it is today.

The reason cyberbullying has exploded with technology is because we as humans, find it easier to say what we really feel or even what we don't feel when we only have to type it and don't have to face the person to whom we are communicating. It is so much easier to lie, and I think we almost think its not as bad lying via technology as it it lying in person. We text/type words we would never say if the person were standing in front of us, and we think of things we probably never would have conceived of saying had the person been in person. Technology has created a shield for us to hide behind when we throw out words we would otherwise never speak.

Cyberbullying has become one of many cons that has become associated with technology. How do you combat something that has always existed in some form in our society, but has developed into such a dangerous weapon? I think the first step is education. We will never be able to control what others think or say, however, we should be able to teach people that their words (whether spoken or typed) have an effect on others and that they are responsible for those words. We need to reinforce the age old saying "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." Our youth need to learn that it is not okay to use technology as a shield to hide behind their words.

While I firmly believe in and support the First Amendment, I feel as though our forefathers never could have fathomed that it would safeguard so many from harms they should otherwise be responsible for. Technology is a different forum of conversation unlike any other we have seen in the past. It connects people to each other in ways books, magazines, pamphlets, etc. cannot do.

Cyberbullying needs to be considered as a dangerous weapon in the hands of all, People need to be held responsible for the words they text/type, and need to learn that technology is not a shield you can hide behind. 

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