This article begins with some really telling statistics which caught my attention from the get go. According to the 2007 Bureau of Justice Statistics' Indicators of School Crime and Safety Report reported that approximately 28% of students between the ages of 12 and 18 had been bullied at school during the past 6 months. The article defines cyberbullying as willful and and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices. Cyberbullying involves using communication technology to harass, intimidate, threaten, or otherwise harm others. Cyberbullies are using technology because they can remain relatively anonymous while harassing others. Many youths are using computers and cell phones with very little, if any supervision from their parents, teachers, or other adults. It is also much easier for some to say things virtually rather than upfront face to face with that persons. These are some of the factors that are leading to such an increase in this behavior.
Adolescence is a time in an individuals life when identity development is very important. Young people tend to seek behaviors in which make them feel better about themselves and try to avoid those in which make them feel bad about who they are. The articles cites several studies that link victims of bullying to lower levels of self esteem. These studies make sense when applied to real life. What child is going to feel good about themselves when somebody is sending them texts making fun of them? How is a child going to focus on his school work, when in class he is sitting next to another child who is spreading horrible rumors about him on the internet?
The author sites a survey from 1,963 middle school aged children about the prevalence of cyberbullying in their lives. The data was really an eye opener for myself to take in. 23% of those surveyed said they had posted something online about another person to make people laugh. 18% received an upsetting email from someone they knew while 16% received an instant message that upset them. Across all of the questions in this study roughly 10%-23% of students surveyed were either participating or fell victim to cyberbullying. While I was aware somewhat of this issue and the increasing prevalence of it, this data really was an eye opener for myself.
Cyberbullying is a very serious and real problem I think much of society somewhat ignores or is just not informed enough about the topic. I know now personally, I will try to identify signs or signals of this behavior while working with our youth. I am glad this is getting national press and schools are tackling this issue hands on. Parents, grandparents, teachers, administrators, mentors, etc must all work together to fight this type of behavior. I know as educators our time with students is very limited, however, we must be aware that this is going on and try to see those warning signs before another horrible tragedy takes place as a result of cyberbullying.
Patchin, J., & Hinduja, S. (2010). Cyberbullying and Self-Esteem. The Journal of School Health, 80(12), 614-24.