Cyber bullying is the use of the internet and communication devices like cell phones to humiliate, intimidate, harass or hurt a person (Trolley 2009, p56). The various ways of bullying via digital equipment include making and posting a false profile of someone, insulting them, sending them sexual notes or threatening them (Trolley 2009, p 23).
Cyber bullying has different levels of severity. It ranges from bullying that is as simple as failing to honor a person’s request of ceasing to communicate with them to sending derogatory remarks and threatening to kill them (Willard 2007, p89 ).
In the United States of America, the approximate number of youngsters who are involved in bullying as a bully, a victim of bullying or as both is about 30% of the total population of young people (Trolley 2009, p21). This translates to about 6 million youth who are involved in bullying actively or passively (Trolley 2009, p43).
One out of four youngsters has been a victim of bullying and during playtime, one youngster is bullied every seven minutes (Shariff 2008 p70). The worst part of this statistics is that half of all bullying goes unreported and only 15% of people act on any reported case of bullying – 85% do nothing about it (Rigby 2007, p112). Around thirty people commit suicide every year because of bullying, and the number of those who attempt to commit suicide per year is much more (Trolley 2009, P54).
Cyber bullying and conventional bullying
Cyber bullying has come recently with the era of computer technology, and it is referred to as the bullying of the 21st century (Trolley 2009, p66). The difference between the conventional way of bullying and cyber bullying is that in conventional bullying, there is contact between the bully and the victim.
This is unlike cyber bullying, where the bully has the advantage of being anonymous to his victim (Rigby 2007, p100). Cyber bullying therefore leaves the victim with more trauma and a higher sense of insecurity (Willard 2007, p46).
Bullying is not only restricted to schools, as many people would think. It happens at the workplace (Namie 2009, p24) and even in homes (Shariff 2008, p88). Plethora of studies indicates that significant numbers of the children who bully other children in schools are more likely to bully their younger siblings (Shariff 2008, p89).
Domestic violence is also a form of bullying. It is directed to a close person for example a spouse, a date or a relative. It mostly occurs when people are living together, but it can also occur between two people who are dating but not living together (Namie 2009, p66).
The only straightforward difference between the two forms of bullying is the means by which it is delivered to the victim- physical or digital. The reasons why bullies pick on a person are the same for both types of bullying, and the effects of both forms of bullying on the victim are similar (Smith 2004, p34).
In both forms of bullying, the victims do not have any form of exchange with the bully and do not participate in the bully’s game by reciprocating his actions (Rigby 2007, p90). Suicidal cases have been reported both in cyber bullying and conventional bullying. Therefore, cyber bullying should not be given more attention as compared to traditional bullying.
Conventional bullying carries as much danger as cyber bullying in terms of the effect seen on the victims. Therefore, cyber bullying should not be treated with more concern than conventional bullying and there is therefore no need to implement additional laws for cyber bullying. Otherwise conventional bullying will often go unnoticed as all attention shifts to this latest form of bullying.
Namie, G., & Namie, R. (2009). The Bully at Work: What You Can Do to Stop the Hurt and Reclaim Your Dignity on the Job (2nd Ed.). Chicago: Sourcebooks, Inc.
Rigby, K. (2007). Bullying in schools: and what to do about it. Camberwell: ACER Press.
Shariff, S. (2008). Cyber-bullying: issues and solutions for the school, the classroom and the home. New York: Routledge.
Smith, P. K., Pepler D. J., & Rigby, K. (2004). Bullying in schools: how successful can interventions be? London: Cambridge University Press.
Trolley, B. C., & Hanel, C. (2009). Cyber Kids, Cyber Bullying, Cyber Balance. San Francisco: Corwin Press.
Willard, N. E. (2007). Cyber bullying and cyber threats: responding to the challenge of online social aggression, threats, and distress. Champaign: Research Press.