Cyber bullying - The art of a coward

2013-08-19 09:36

Besides animal welfare being my ultimate passion, I have thrown myself into finding more about bullying. As you would know from previous posts, both my son and myself have been victims of bullying. I decided that my anger from these situations had to be channelled into something positive, so besides writing articles I started a facebook group where educators who care and parents of bullied children could spin ideas off each other and in the long run help a young victim.

Cyber bullying has been a hot topic these days. I honestly hope that parents and schools especially would take note of this information and educate children on the dangers that lurk in cyberspace.

I think people need to take a step back and educate themselves as to what Cyber Bullying is and that there are serious consequences to it. Bullying is being taken very seriously in South Africa, due to the high suicide rate in especially children. Although adult cases are just as prevalent and are just as serious.

What is Cyber Bullying?

Cyber bullying is bullying through email, instant messaging (IM'ing), chat room exchanges, Web site posts, or digital messages or images send to a cellular phone or personal digital assistant (PDA) (Kowalski et al. 2008). Cyber bullying, like traditional bullying, involves an imbalance of power, aggression, and a negative action that is often repeated.

Legal definition

Cyber bullying is defined in legal glossaries as

actions that use information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behaviour by an individual or group, that is intended to harm another or others.

use of communication technologies for the intention of harming another person

use of internet service and mobile technologies such as web pages and discussion groups as well as instant messaging or SMS text messaging with the intention of harming another person.

Examples of what constitutes cyber bullying include communications that seek to intimidate, control, manipulate, put down, falsely discredit, or humiliate the recipient. The actions are deliberate, repeated, and hostile behaviour intended to harm another.

Cyber bullies are simply cowards because they get to hide behind their hurtful words and anonymous user names.

Common Forms of Cyber Bullying

Cyber bullying can take many forms. However, there are six forms that are the most common.*

Harassment: Repeatedly sending offensive, rude, and insulting messages

Denigration: Distributing information about another that is derogatory and untrue through posting it on a Web page, sending it to others through email or instant messaging, or posting or sending digitally altered photos of someone

Flaming: Online "fighting" using electronic messages with angry, vulgar language

Impersonation: Breaking into an email or social networking account and using that person's online identity to send or post vicious or embarrassing material to/about others.

Outing and Trickery: Sharing someone's secrets or embarrassing information, or tricking someone into revealing secrets or embarrassing information and forwarding it to others

Cyber Stalking: Repeatedly sending messages that include threats of harm or are highly intimidating, or engaging in other online activities that make a person afraid for his or her safety (depending on the content of the message, it may be illegal)


First, it is important to keep all evidence of the bullying: take screen shots of messages, posts, comments, etc.  If there are ways you can determine who exactly is making the comments, also document that.  Second, contact the service or content provider through which the bullying is occurring.  For example, if you are being cyber bullied on Facebook, contact them.  If you are receiving hurtful or threatening cell phone messages, contact your cell phone company to obtain assistance.  Along those same lines, familiarise yourself with the Terms of Use for the various sites you frequent, and the online accounts you sign up for.  Many web sites expressly prohibit harassment and if you report it through their established mechanisms, the content and/or bully should be removed from the site in a timely manner. To be sure, some web site administrators are better and quicker at this than others.

Also, please be careful not to retaliate – or do anything that might be perceived by an outsider to have contributed to the problem.  Do not respond to the cyber bully except to calmly tell them to stop.  If they refuse, you may have to take additional actions.  If you are ever afraid for your safety, you need to contact law enforcement to investigate.  They can determine whether any threats made are credible.  If they are, the police will formally look into it.  The evidence that you have collected will help them to evaluate your situation.

It is important to share your experience. As explained to children in pre and primary schools about "stranger danger". There is no use in being quiet about your experience. For people already suffering with depression it is vital that they seek medical assistance. Participating in groups where you are able to share your experience with other victims could also be beneficial.

For groups being targeted it is important to stand as a unit and not ostracize victims. We have to remember that Cyber bullying may not seem as serious as face to face bullying but consequences are much the same. Once one member has been targeted others will be targeted too. All attempts at discrediting the group need to be brought to light for awareness to prevent further attacks.

Consequences of Cyber Bullying:

Research had demonstrated a number of serious consequences of cyber bullying victimisation.

For example, victims have lower self-esteem, increased suicidal ideation, and a variety of emotional responses, retaliating, being scared, frustrated, angry, and depressed.

One of the most damaging effects is that a victim begins to avoid friends and activities, often the very intention of the cyber-bully.

Cyber bullying campaigns are sometimes so damaging that victims have committed suicide.

If your child is a victim or you have some advice for parents or educators - lets get talking! Lets make a difference! Start by joining Zero tolerance to bullying


AB praises selfless skipper

2010-11-21 18:15

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