The Amanda Todd case is a local example of cyberbullying with tragic consequences. On September 7, 2012, the 15 year old teen from Coquitlam, BC posted a YouTube video that features a series of handwritten cue cards depicting her “never ending story” as a victim of blackmail, cyberbullying, physical assault and self-harm. Tragically, Amanda Todd’s story ended in suicide.
What behaviors constitute “cyberbullying”?
Unfortunately, the definition of cyberbullying is not as narrow as some would like; the scope and forms of cyberbullying are quite wide. These include (but are not limited to) stalking behaviours, threats, harassment, impersonation, outing, or ‘doxxing’ (publication of personal information, generally for witch-hunting purposes).
The Cyberbullying Research Centre offers a useful definition of cyberbullying as:
“the willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.” They go on to highlight the important elements of this definition:
* Willful: The behavior has to be deliberate, not accidental.
* Repeated: Bullying reflects a pattern of behavior, not just one isolated incident.
* Harm: The target must perceive that harm was inflicted.
* Computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices: This, of course, is what differentiates cyberbullying from traditional bullying. (Excerpt from: Cyberbullying.org/What Is Cyberbullying?)
What can I do about it?
If you think you are being harrassed online, here are the Cyberbullying Research Centre’s Top 10 Tips for Responding to Cyberbullying.
How does it impact on my digital identity?
Think about what it says about you if someone were to read a mean tweet that you sent in haste or a facebook post intended to be hurtful to a person or group of people. Queen’s University students make a powerful statement about diversity in their reading of mean tweets on Facebook.
Would you want to befriend that person? If you were hiring someone, would you want to hire that person? Would you want that person to care for your kids or date your best friend?
On the other side of the line, bullying victims who take back their power and use a public form to educate a bully, can have a lasting and positive impact. Consider our story about Balpreet Kaur, responding to a potentially nasty Reddit thread or a recent (Dec, 2015) story about an east coast student’s response to cyberbullying that went viral. Ask the same questions above about these women.
Your digital identity formed, in part, by the choices you make.
- Youth Engaging in Online Harassment: Associations With Caregiver–Child Relationships, Internet Use, and Personal Characteristics (2004)
- Stalking, Criminal Harassment and Cyberbullying | Canadian Bar Association
- How to Respond to Online Harassment | WHOA
- Online Privacy, Online Publicity: Youth do more to protect their reputation than their information | MediaSmarts (2014)
- Teen Sexter Convicted for Child Porn | BBC News (2014)
- Think Before You Share – A Guide for Teens | MediaSmarts.ca (2013)
- First-in-Canada Law Allows N.S. Cyberbullying Victims to Sue, Seek Protection | Global News (2013)
- Why You Should Think Twice Before Shaming Anyone on Social Media | Wired.com (2013)
- Insights on Cyberbullying | Harvard Law (2008)
- Amanda Todd’s Stalker Tracked Down by Cyber-Hackers, Anonymous – Denver Top News | Examiner.com (2012)
- Amanda Todd’s death shows the need to expose cyber-bullies | Full Comment | National Post (2012)
- Amanda Todd suicide: Tips to handle bullying from a Kids Help Phone expert | Toronto Star (2012)
- Cyberbullying Creating Difficult Questions for Legal System | CBC News (2016)
The Digital Tattoo Project encourages critical discussion on topics surrounding digital citizenship and online identity. There are no correct answers and every person will view these topics from a different perspective. Be sure to complete the previous sections before answering the questions.
- In your opinion, is online harrassment/cyberbullying a growing problem?
- Have you ever directly witnessed online harrassment? How did you react?