- What is cyberbullying?
- What can I do to prevent or stop cyberbullying?
Consider these questions as you review the examples below. Try the quiz from the left menu: What Have You Learned? after you’ve spent some time with this section.
The Amanda Todd case is a recent story about cyberbullying that hits close to home. 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, cyerbullying, physical assault and self harm. Tragically, Amanda’s Todd’s story ended in suicide. Stories like Amanda’s have provoked the development of public awareness campaigns like the one below, tackling the issue of cyberbullying like a public health warning.
Video posted by: StruttCentral on YouTube
Cyberbullying is a difficult topic to address because of the digital (and thus, invisible) space it is conducted in, and the anonymity that accompanies it. Additionally, it seems that “cyberbullying” is a term that appears to have minimal resonance with youth. As danah boyd describes, teens will often define “cyberbullying” in a way that excludes anything they may be involved in.
Unfortunately, the definition of cyberbullying is not as narrow as we’d like to. The scope of cyberbullying is actually quite large, and can come in several forms.
Some of these are:
|Cyberstalking||repeated use of electronic means to annoy, harass or threaten an individual|
|Cyberthreats||sending threatening messages intended to infer that the recipient/their family is in danger or harm|
|Flaming||sending angry (often with offensive language) messages technologically|
|Harassment||technological version of discrimination or hostile behaviour towards someone based on his/her status (gender/sex, race, religion, disability, etc)|
|Denigration||sending/posting defamatory information about someone|
|Masquerading||posing as someone else to send rude/inappropriate messages on their behalf|
|Outing/Trickery||persuading someone into revealing personal information and then subsequently publicizing it|
|Social exclusion||deliberately excluding someone out from online activity (game, discussion board, chat room, etc)|
Definitions and concepts credit- Sheri Bauman. Cyberbulling What Counselors Need to Know Alexandria, VA: American counseling Association, 2011.
If you identify with any of these behaviors and actions, take some time to reevaluate the value of your online activity. Contrary to former belief, the repercussions of cyberbullying are quite extensive, associated with a range of both mental and physical health problems.
With an increase in media attention on this issue, more jurisdictions are taking action to put a stop to cyberbullying. In response to Todd’s death, NDP member of parliament Dany Morin is introducing a motion to the Canadian House of Commons for more funding and support for anti-bullying organizations. Additionally, the motion proposed will include a study of the scope of bullying in Canada.
As cyberbullying awareness continues to grow, more bullies are being prosecuted. A provincial judge in Victoria found a 17 year old girl guilty of distributing child pornography when she shared naked photographs of her boyfriends ex. This case is unusual and the first of it’s kind. Nevertheless, the legal consequences for cyberbullying are becoming increasingly severe.
Here are some suggestions for what to do if you come across cyberbullying while interacting online:
- Save the evidence
- Identify the person who is bullying
- Publicly demand that the bully stop the behavior
- Ignore/block the bully
- File a complaint with the website’s Internet Service Provider (ISP)
- Contact the police if you think someone is in immediate danger