Bullying Online Can Lead to Death


With the growing prevalence of the Internet and online social networks, cyber bullying, cyber stalking, and cyber harassment have become ever growing phenomena. For some, it took the tragic deaths of countless victims such as Phoebe Prince, Hope Witsell, Ryan Halligan, Tiffany Barwick, Tyler Clementi, and Megan Meier to bring these issues into the public conscientiousness. This post will focus on cyber bullying. Cyber bullying occurs between minors. When an adult is harassing children or teenagers, it is known as cyber harassment or cyber stalking. As the Internet becomes more popular and online communities become more close-knit as well as more prevalent, online misconduct is occurring at an ever increasing rate in cyber space.

What constitutes Cyber bullying? Cyber bullying has been defined by some experts as a willful and repeated act where a child or teenager is harassed, humiliated, embarrassed, threatened or tormented through the use of digital technology such as computers, cell telephones, and other electronic devices. It is not limited to the Internet; cyber bullying also encompasses bullying done through such methods as text messages. It is important to reiterate that experts state that cyber bullying can only occur between minors. Research data indicates that cyber bullying can be just as devastating as bullying in real life. In some cases, cyber bullying is an extension of bullying already endured by the victim at school.

Cyber bullying is often a systemic attempt to cause another person to experience emotional pain as the result of an electronic communication or a series of communications. Traditionally, it occurs more than once, and includes but is not limited to: creating disturbing blog and website posts; leaving demeaning messages on victim’s Facebook or MySpace page; spreading gossip or rumors through instant messaging and text messaging; uploading embarrassing photos of the victim; and/or sending defamatory tweets on Twitter. Bullies have demonstrated that there are countless methods to humiliate and threaten a child or teen online. Because the damage is often psychological, and carries over into the real world, the threats posed by cyber bullying can be devastating for the victim. There have been cases where cyber bullying has been linked to severe depression, self-harm, and even suicide.

teens on computers

Prevalence of Teens and Cyber bullyingResearch indicates that electronic dating violence and teens is a significant social problem. The Cyberbullying Research Center reported that an online survey of teens sponsored by the Liz Claiborne company revealed that 36% of teens say their boyfriend or girlfriend checked up on them as many as 30 times per day and 17% reported that their significant other made them afraid not to respond to cell phone calls, email, or text messages. Another recent poll spearheaded by MTV and the Associated Press found that 22% of youth between the ages of 14 and 24 who were involved in a romantic relationship said that their partner wrote something about them online or in a text message that was not true. (Cyberbullying Research Center) This same survey reported that 22% of youth felt that their significant other checked up on them too often online or via cell phone. (Cyberbullying Research Center). The results of these studies referenced on the Center’s website illustrate that electronic dating violence is occurring across a meaningful proportion of youth in our nation.

Many Faces of Bullying

In response to this pressing problem, the Obama administration has taken important and necessary measures to combat bullying. His administration is directing resources for the express purpose of reducing bullying in schools and to raising awareness around its ramifications, and, of course, to countering its negative impact. Toward that end, the White House convened a conference on preventing bullying conference and launched a new website, http://www.stopbullying.gov, devoted to bullying prevention.

sad woman


For further information on bullying and/or cyber bullying prevention and intervention strategies, there are several websites you can visit including but not limited: http://www.fightcrime.org; http://www.bullypolice.org; http://www.healthline.com; http://www.cyberbullying.us; http://www.stopbullying.org; http://www.stopbullying.gov; http://www.isafe.org; and others.

Source(s): White House website, §2 – C.18A:37-13.1 §1 – C.18A:37-13.2 §16 – C.18A:37-15.3 §§17; http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2010/Bills/AL10/122_. PDF. Fight Crime.org; Bully Police USA, Inc.; Healthline.com; Politics Daily; MyFoxPhilly.com; NJ.com; Cyber Research Center; Stop Bullying, Inc.; i-Safe, Inc.; “NJ Assembly, Senate Passes “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights’ in Wake of Tyler Clementi’s Death” November 22, 2010, NJ.com; “Rutgers Student Tyler Clementi Commits Suicide After Video Voyeurism”, October 5, 2010, Star Ledger. Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

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