Research Paper: The Nonverbal Murder of Technology: Cyber Bullying

Nowadays, there is an increasing in number of people who have access to the Internet along with improvements in technology such as iPod and smartphones. Currently, more than twenty percent of the people in the world have smartphones, which allow people with unlimited access to the internet despite of their location. One could easily claim that the Internet has heavily influenced the world; however, this is an understatement. The Internet offers a plethora of material, stemming from a continually expanding network of knowledge, and offering immediate answers, endless information, and easy communication with people all over the world.  Because the Internet has a big influence in today’s culture, people put more time into the emotional aspect of the internet. Although there are many good aspects of having unlimited access to the Internet, the negative effects of a nonverbal society significantly became a big problem, such as cyber defamation and data spill, in recent years. One of the more grave consequences that people’s interaction with the web has caused is something known as “cyber bullying.” Jessica Mansourian, program analyst of the COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) office, mentioned –

With the ever increasing availability and prevalence of technology, bullying has evolved beyond the school hallways and grounds and into the home. Cyber bullying reflects the incorporation of technology into the traditional bullying model. It is the willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.[1] Cyber bullying is one of the most serious problems of the Internet for teenagers and even adults.

Bullying has always been around in a various forms, but cyber bullying is different because it lets a bully remain anonymous. Unlike face to face situation, cyber bullying is more frequent and aggressive since it is very difficult to be controlled and monitored. Cyber bullying is any harassment that occurs in the Internet; vicious forum posts, name calling in chat rooms, posting fake profiles on web sites, and mean or cruel email messages are some of the examples of cyber bullying. Many people may think that cyber-bullying is not a significant problem in current society; however, it can change a victim’s life forever with one single offensive comment about them. Through the Internet, it is possible for any person to cause other people to commit suicide, drop out of school, and suffer from self-esteem issues like depression and anxiety. This is not something that people can simply ignore and move on since any person can be next victim of cyber bullying if there is no action to reduce or prevent cyber bullying.

With introduction of AOL Instant messenger (1997), MySpace (2001), and Facebook (2004), teens everywhere flocked to the idea of having a more private means of communication away from the school grounds and teachers. Most importantly, students loved the idea of “not getting caught,” the ability to stay anonymous and nonverbal. Cyber bullying research center said,

Youth suicide continues to be a significant public health concern in the United States. Even though suicide rates have decreased 28.5 percent among young people in recent years, upward trends were identified in the ten to nineteen year old age group. In addition to those who successfully end their life, many other adolescents strongly think about and even attempt suicide. [2]

The recent increase in suicidal attempts and rates became a big social problem, but one of the main causes of this trend was surprisingly cyber bullying. Cyber bullying causes teenagers to suffer from overwhelming stress that eventually led them to commit suicide. Megan Taylor Meier, who was an American teenager from Missouri, committed suicide by hanging three weeks before her fourteenth birthday because of cyber bullying in MySpace. Her online-network friends started to spread rumors about her, and the situation got worse which led her to make a foolish decision. According to the cyber bullying research center, the most common form of bullying offending reported by respondents was: “I called another student mean names, made fun of or teased him or her in a hurtful way” (27.7%), and the most frequently‐cited form of bullying victimization is: “Other students told lies or spread false rumors about me and tried to make others dislike me (29.3%). With regard to cyber bullying, prevalence rates for individual behaviors ranged from 9.1% to 23.1% for offending and from 5.7% to 18.3% for victimization. Almost one third of students have experienced some forms of cyber bullying, but it cannot be stopped as the Internet has become essential for people’s lives.

Unlike traditional bullying, where victims could at least escape from the attackers, cyber bullying allows bullies to torment their victims both psychologically and emotionally at any time of day via social media websites, e-mail, or cell phone messages. Along with technological developments, cyber bullying has become more serious issue in last ten years that caused more frequent and vicious results. For example, David Knight of Burlington, Ontario, was one of the severe victims of cyber bullying. Someone in his school made a website about him saying, “Welcome to the website that makes fun of Dave Knight.” So many people in his school posted thoughtless and inappropriate comments about him. He hid at home for weeks away from everyone outside, and he was frightened to death. Another example is a 10 year old boy named Phoebe. Kids from his school called him and said that he was in the cow club. Along with telling him to call the loser hotline, they got his friend’s little sister to whisper stuff like, “I’m going to kill you.” Like in these two stories, a lot of cyber bullying can be viewed as another means of crime that may cause the victims to suffer mentally and even physically by attempting suicide. The more serious problem is that bullies do not even realize the consequence of their mean comments that they write without any thoughts. More than seventy percent of bullies said they did not recognize the severity of their behavior until victims report this issue to the adults or attempt to commit suicide.

Through the progression of Internet technology, it is not surprising that cyber bullying itself is also evolving in more various forms as people continue to combine their “real world” emotions with that of a virtual one. “Sexting” is a relatively new phenomenon that has drastically shifted the world’s view on the consequences of technology, and shed a light on the relatively horrifying consequences of easy communication and the transparency of information.

Often parents, teachers, and school authorities dismiss bullying among kids as a normal part of growing up, but bullying can have serious psychological consequences on children. In some cases, cyber bullying has led students to conduct substance abuse, violence, and even suicide. Based on the results of the online survey of 444 junior high, high school and college students between the ages of 11 and 22, 45 percent reported feeling depressed as a result of being cyber bullied, 38 percent felt embarrassed and 28 percent felt anxious about attending school. More than a quarter (26 percent) had suicidal thoughts. The effects of bullying can last a lifetime; therefore, such behavior should be dealt with while still in its nascent stages.

Police and school officials continue to work ruthlessly to make sure kids know how to keep themselves safe from cyber bullies and online predators. However, America needs to take more affirmative actions in order to prevent any horrendous consequences of cyber bullying by recognizing the fact that cyber bullying is a strong contributor to teenage suicide rates. Cyber bullying is one of the most severe aspects of the Internet that teachers, lawmakers, school administration, parents, and rising adults need to pay more close attention. For the prevention of cyber bullying, teachers, students, parents, and administrators all have specific roles to play that may help to stop cyber bullying.  According to Bijal Damani, the reporter of Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, teachers should be aware of behavior changes in students who have been bullied or harassed.[3] It is also important for teachers to have a presence in cyberspace where bullying is likely to take place.

The student community culture plays a very important role in stopping cyber bullying as well. Both victims and witnesses should be encouraged to report any kind of bullying to school authorities. Damani said, “It helps tremendously if bullies are confronted by their own peers who stand up against their actions.” Bullied children should be comfortable to talk to their parents about the harassment without being judged. Also, it is important to note that sometimes it is difficult for parents to believe that their child may be a cyber-bully because the child may not appear to be one in real life. Whether the children are bystanders, are being bullied, or are bullies themselves, parents must be aware of what is happening in their lives. School administrators have to take a firm stand against bullying of any kind by offering counseling, reinforcing the school’s moral code, and strong disciplinary action.

The comedian Julian Clary said, “The bullying was hideous and relentless, and we turned it round by making ourselves celebrities.” Cyber bullying is immoral and hurtful action that must be stopped; however, there are always some forms of bully existing in both real and cyber world. Also, social networking sites that reveal private information to the public can be a feeding ground for Cyber bullies to take advantage of harassing certain people in front a large “audience”.  In essence Cyber-bullying is the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, which is intended to harm others. When one becomes a victim of cyber bullying, they are a victim for life. Although the bullying itself may go away, the fear, the hurt, and the memories can scar the victim forever.

 

Bibilography

Anti-Bullying week Cyber Bullying video. 6minutes 31 seconds. Youtube, 2010.

i-SAFE America Inc.. “Beware of the Cyber Bully.” Cyber Bullying. Accessed October 19, 2011, http://www.isafe.org/imgs/pdf/education/CyberBullying.pdf.

“Bullying Quotes – BrainyQuote.” Famous Quotes at BrainyQuote, accessed October 19, 2011, http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/bullying.html#ixzz1bOFqXCt5.

Damani, Bijal. “Education Update:Evolution or Revolution?:Cyberbullying: Is It Happening In Your Class?.” Membership, policy, and professional development for educators – ASCD. Accessed October 19, 2011, http://www.ascd.org/publications/newsletters/education-update/jan11/vol53/num01/Cyberbullying@-Is-It-Happening-In-Your-Class%C2%A2.aspx.

Guangrong, Ru. “The Negative Impact of the Internet and Its Solutions.” 1998, accessed Sept. 29 2011 http://www.uscc.gov/researchpapers/2000_2003/pdfs/neg.pdf .

Hinduja, Sameer, and Justin W. Patchin,. “Cyberbullying and Suicide.” Cyberbullying Res earch Summary. Accessed October 20, 2011, http://www.cyberbullying.us/cyberbullying_and_suicide_research_fact_sheet.pdf.

Mansourian, Jessica. “Dispatch – Evolution of Cyberbullying.COPS Office: Grants and Resources for Community Policing, accessed October 19, 2011, http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/html/dispatch/04-2011/Evolution-of-Cyberbullying.asp.

Mishra, Akansha. “Cyberbullying should be treated as a crime.” 29 Aug. 2011, accessed Sept. 30, 2011, http://www.alligator.org/opinion/columns/article_bc5a5….

“Stop Cyberbullying.” n.d. Accessed Sept. 29, 2011, http://www.stopcyberbullying.org/.


[1] Jessica Mansourian. Dispatch – Evolution of Cyberbullying.COPS Office: Grants and Resources for Community Policing. http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/html/dispatch/04-2011/Evolution-of-Cyberbullying.asp (accessed October 19, 2011).

[2] Mansourian, Jessica. “Dispatch – Evolution of Cyberbullying.COPS Office: Grants and Resources for Community Policing, accessed October 19, 2011, http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/html/dispatch/04-2011/Evolution-of-Cyberbullying.asp.

[3] Bijal Damani. “Education Update:Evolution or Revolution?:Cyberbullying: Is It Happening In Your Class?.” Membership, policy, and professional development for educators – ASCD. Accessed October 19, 2011, http://www.ascd.org/publications/newsletters/education-update/jan11/vol53/num01/Cyberbullying@-Is-It-Happening-In-Your-Class%C2%A2.aspx.

 

By Olivia Lee

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