Cyberbullying is the use of information and electronic technology such as mobile phones computers and the internet to intentionally threaten, distress or humiliate someone else (DCSF1 2007a: 03).
3.1 Typology of Cyberbullying
In order to raise awareness and prevent cyberbullying it is important for both youth and adults to recognize acts leading to ‘threaten, distress, or humiliate’ a target and being bullied. These acts take various ways and forms given by (Erwin-Jones (2008); Hinduja and Patchin (2009) as follows:
- Sending threatening or discomforting text messages to a mobile phone
- Making silent, hoax or abusive calls to a mobile phone
- Making and sharing embarrassing images or videos via a mobile phone or website
- Broadcasting unsuitable webcam footage that is threatening or manipulative
- Leaving hurtful messages on a social networking site or sending the same message to that person’s peer group
- “Outing” people by publishing or disseminating confidential information online
- Stealing an online identity in order to cause trouble in that person’s name
- Deliberately excluding people from online games or groups
- Setting up hate sites or hate groups against an individual
- Sending menacing or upsetting responses in chat rooms, online games or messenger “real time” conversations
- Voting for someone in an insulting online poll
- Sending someone “sexts” that try to pressure them into sexual acts.
By recognizing these acts better measures can be taken to protect both youth and adults from cyberbullying and used as guidelines to intervene in a timely and fashion manner in future cases.
3.2 Vulnerable Targets
A study reveals that 18-34% of 11-16 year olds have experienced some form of cyberbullying (Livingstone and Haddon (2009) and Smith et al. (2008); Department of Children, Schools, and Families, DCSF, 2007a). Another study reports that 84% of 12-15 year olds now access the internet outside of school and do so on average 14 hours per week (Ofcom (2009b): 60-62). Further study shows that DCSF has found that up to 34% of 12–15 year olds have been cyberbullied (Livingstone and Haddon 2009; Smith et al. (2008). It can therefore be concluded that youth are more vulnerable targets than adults.
There is no single factor or act that can put oneself at risk of being bullied or to bully others. While bullying can happen to anyone and anywhere, youth are found to be at a higher risk of being bullied or bullying. Cyberbullying can cause significant emotional and psychological distress. Thus, targets of cyberbullying can experience some unique consequences and negative feelings as follows:
- Emotional distress: anxiety, anger, frustration, embarrassment, sadness, fear, depression
- Interference with school work or job performance
- Quit job, drop out or switch schools
- Delinquency and violence
- Substance abuse
- Feel alone and isolated
- Possession of weapons on school grounds
3.3.1 Targets at Risk of Being Bullied
These targets are children with different body shapes (overweight or underweight) and children wearing glasses or different clothing. Children who are new to a school also fall in this category as well as children unable to afford or keep up with peer children. Furthermore, children who are seen as weak, depressed and anxious are more likely to be bullied.
- Youth [Offenders] More Likely to Bully Others
These offenders are children who have social power, less parental control, and issues at home as well as having a short temper. These can also be children who like to dominate or to be in charge. Furthermore, children who are aggressive and obsessed by their popularity are more likely to bully others.
When witnessing bullying behavior, adults must intervene to stop it and keep both the target and offender safe. Adults are also encouraged to remain calm, reassure both parties involved and exhibit respectful behavior in the process. Adults are further strongly advised to question or talk to each party involved only separately and should avoid making the parties apologize or patch up relations right on the spot or publicly.