I dedicate this post to seventeen-year-old schoolgirl from Aktobe, a victim of anti-social group “Aktobe’s hens” in Vkontakte (social network), who committed suicide in October, 2014, because of receiving disparaging comments (sexual harassment) to her photo.
Today none of the students can feel secured against becoming a victim of cyber bullying: 20 percent of American middle-school students admitted to seriously thinking about attempting suicide as a result of bullying online (Hinduja & Patchin, 2010). If some times ago, victims of bullying might have been able to at least find some relief at home or somewhere else, technology’s ubiquitous influence made bullying possible to be a 24/7 torment. The worst thing is many parents and teachers might be unaware that their children are being harassed via electronic communication.
Cyber bullying could be concisely characterized as “sending or posting harmful or cruel text or images using the Internet or other digital communication devices” (Willard, 2004; p. 1). Willard (2004) also mentions different types of cyber bullying: flaming, harassment, cyber stalking, denigration, masquerade, outing, trickery, and exclusion. The reason why cyber bullying is spreading so fast could lie in the fact that youngsters often feel that cyberspace is anonymous, and they can therefore write whatever they want. It unties students’ hands to erupt a torrent of abuse on other students without being revealed. Writing demeaning comments or posting different gossip, some students may not even realize that their behaviors, even if they intend only to joke, could heavily hurt other students. A number of researchers (Bauman, 2011; Dooley, Pyzalski, & Cross, 2009; Kowalski & Limber, 2007) assert that cyber bullying could result in heightened anxiety in school, where the victim may live in chronic fear of being humiliated or embarrassed. Along with that, it can seriously impact on students’ health. According to Wiredkids.Inc. (n.d.), online bullying can lead to self-destructive behaviors such as alcohol and drug abuse. As a doomsday scenario children can even commit suicide.
These ramifications really set us thinking how dangerous cyber bullying could be. Therefore, parents should pay meticulous attention to their children’ behavior, especially online. Parents can restrict time children spend in cyberspace, thus protecting children from possible harassment. Schools also should make some steps to prevent and reveal cyber bullying. In order to make children clearly understand that bullying via electronic gizmos is tantamount to face-to-face bullying, schools can provide information to students how seriously it can affect someone’s health and sap someone’s self-esteem. If schools include special lessons on cyber bullying in curriculum, the problem could become less severe. Schools can also organize lections for parents which can acquaint them with how to reveal children’ being harassed. As there is a tendency now on social networks when young people gather in closed communities (like “Astana hens”, “Astana cocks”, there are such communities almost in every city) with the aim to harass other people, the Government officials should take serious steps to eradicate such movements. To be more precise, the government should introduce serious punishment for people who harass other people online and, especially, organize such closed communities.
All in all, children today may face more serious problem than school bullying. Cyber bullying. Youngsters can display their scorn to other people without being exposed. In this post I proffered some steps that schools can take in order to cope with this problem. So, what do you think about this issue? How can we kill cyber bulling?
Bauman, S. (2011). Cyberbullying: What counselors need to know. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.
Dooley, J. J., Pyzalski, J., & Cross, D. (2009). Cyberbullying versus face-to-face bullying: A theoretical and conceptual review. Journal of Psychology, 217(4), 182–188. doi:10.1027/0044-3409.217.4.182
Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J.W. (2010). Bullying, cyber bullying and suicide. Archives of Suicide Research, 14 (3), 206-221.
Kowalski, R. M., & Limber, S. P. (2007). Electronic bullying among middle school students. Journal of Adolescent Health 41, S22–S30. Retrieved from http://www.sccoe.org/depts/csh/docs/Mar2011/Elec.Bullying.Middle.School.pdf
Willard, N. (2004). An Educator’s Guide to Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats. Retrieved from http://cyberbully.org/docs/cbcteducator.pdf.