Bullying beyond the schoolyard

Bullying is a problem that threatens the well-being of children and adolescents across the world; often, children are both victims and perpetrators of bullying (Ling, Helmersen, 2000). Historically, most attention has been focused on direct forms of bullying, including overt physical and verbal aggression. Direct physical bullying includes behaviors such as hitting, kicking, pushing, and sexual aggression. Direct verbal bullying includes behaviors such as name calling, teasing, and threats of harm. Additional forms of bullying have been identified, including the use of intimidation; bullying based on ethnicity, culture, appearance, or ability; and sexual harassment or using sexual references to make someone uncomfortable. Bullying has been defined in many ways, and there is some disagreement about what types of behaviors constitute bullying (Nafus, Tracey, 2002). The most widely used definition, provided by Olweus (year), a leading researcher, states that bullying occurs when an individual is "exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons." He further defines a negative action as "when a person intentionally inflicts injury or discomfort upon another person, through physical contact, through words or in other ways." (pg). This definition includes behaviors as diverse as physical abuse, threats of harm, teasing, social exclusion, spreading rumors, damage of property, and theft. Some believe that an imbalance of power need not be present (cite). However, others suggest physical, psychological, or social power differences must exist to constitute bullying (cite). Other definitions state that bullying may be conducted for the purpose of displaying dominance (Ling, Yttri, 2002).

Recently, much attention has been given to a newer, technology driven, form of bullying described as Cyberbullying. Cyberbullying generally encompasses any kind of harassing or bullying conduct that occurs through electronic communication channels or devices, including e-mail, instant messaging, personal websites, blogs, online video sharing sites, social networking services, cell phones, and camcorders sites which are used to facilitate, deliberate or repeat any hostile behavior by an individual or group toward another (cite). Cyberbullying is a fairly recent concern in both the education and legal systems (cite). This practice is fueled by the ever-increasing affordability and user-friendly nature of digital technologies. This combination of factors makes Cyberbullying a relentless form of harassment which is no longer confined solely to classrooms. While the Internet has been embraced, especially by young people as a social tool, it is increasingly being used to sexually harass and denigrate students (Ito, 2005). For example, his 2005 survey of 1,500 teenagers using the Internet reported that 32% of male respondents and 36% of female respondents had experienced cyberbullying to some degree.

Cyberbullying occurs across a multitude of electronic media which are easily accessible to adolescents. It is extremely difficult for school officials to monitor and control the bullyingis behavior or the sexual harassment of other students through these Internet-based communications. Additionally, those who sexually harass others online can instigate harmful attacks 24 hours a day at any location with Internet access (Ling, Yttri, 2002). Unlike traditional sexual harassment and bullying, where the offenders are readily identifiableknown, those using the Internet to prey uponsexually harass other students are often anonymous. Additionally, those who sexually harass others online can instigate harmful attacks 24 hours a day at any location with Internet access (Ling, Yttri, 2002).

The use of i Instant messaging (IM) has remained a popular communication option among youngeradolescents teens since its introduction in 1997 with AIM (AOL Instant Messaging). IM and In addition to instant messaging, text messagesing and s well as emailing have contributed both to the evolution of the popular expressions current young generation's linguistic expressions and and have become accepted forums for commonto new social practices such as developing or ending romantic relationships online. But the dark side of this technology is that it has also been embraced by the cyberbully. This technology allows the bully to send real- time messages to their target and know that they were received. There is also the option of anonymity where the aggressor can choose to either send hurtful messages from their regular account or be able to disguise themselves under the veil of anonymity with a pseudonym account. Some of the most hurtful and humiliating examples of this type of cyberbullying involve personal content being forwarded through instant messagesIM from the original recipient or confident to others for whom the information was not intended. This type of covert, backstabbing cyberbullying does the greatest deal of shame and pain because it can cause the target to feel ostracized, exposed and humiliated. (Hinduja, Patchin, 2009)

Since t As the use of mobile devices has increased, however, young people in the United States and theStates and the United Kingdom have demonstratedvoiced a change in their functionpreference that echoes their Asian and Scandinavian counterparts.: Although instant messagingIM and emailing are still a part of their lives, they are used mainly primarily used to maintain contact while at home in front of the computer., Mmost young people now prefer to use the mobile phones for communications with their friends. (Nafus, Tracey, 2002). In the early stages of its development and marketingcommercialization, the technology was often framed around its use in business and professional settings., Interestinglyhowever, the range of use and the groups who adopted the technologydevice have not been in line withfar exceeded these early expectationsforecasts. In the case of mobile telephones, adoption by adolescents reported in Asia, Scandinavia, Europe, and to a lesser degree in the United States was much greater than expected (Kasesniemi, Rautianen, 2002).

Adolescent adoption use has changed the dynamics of the industry and has exposed some of the taken-for-granted assumptions about the role of teens in society. Cell phone use by aAdolescents use was expeditedmade possible through the drive by teens' desires to interact with their peers, their high level of disposable income, and theiro attempt tocautiously emancipate themselves from their parents through the gained independence of owing a mobile device. It has also led to the reformulation of the mobile telephone market in the form of prepaid subscriptions, the rise of texting, and the establishment of secondary industries such as ring tones, icons, and mobile phone covers (Ito, 2005). The adolescent market also has contributed to the convergence of mobile music devices, camera phones, networked gaming, and a wide variety of other functions into a single portable device (Castells, Fernandez-Ardevol, Qiu, Sey, 2004).

Adolescents have long been able to communicate vocally through cell phones but a recent trend has been taking place as more and more adolescents communicate via cell phone text messaging. Since text messaging, like instant messaging, enables adolescents to communicate with others in real-time, it's obvious that this technology can be abusedeasily misued through the sending of hurtful, threatening or rude messages. Text messaging can also be exploited on a victimize someone whose cell phone plan charges per text message. where the aggressorAn aggressor may sends tens or hundreds of messages to athe target where they not only harrassharass the victimtarget but are also able to upset the target's parents who likely, on seeing the bill may, blame the target. As the cell phone technology within the cell phone becomes more and more technologically advanced, its use in bullying continues to increase. With the camera-phone combination many adolescents are now armed with a camera all day long even in places where they would usually expect privacy is usually expected such as locker rooms, bathrooms and showers.MORE

Happy slapping
  • Relatively recent phenom
  • Unsuspecting person recorded harass or bully that involves abuse
  • Video then uploaded to sharing website or sent around
  • With growth of youtubeYouTube, Fflickr, Pphotobucket and other photo/video viewing website this form of cyber bullying has gradually become more common
  • (Hinduja, Patchin, 2009)

In the United Kingdom, the phenomenon of "happy slapping," is an assault on an innocent bystander, that isis recordedvideoed by a peer using a mobile phone camera. Bullying of classmates,student colleagues either by sending anonymous text messages or by taking illicit photographs of them in unguarded moments such as in the school shower, is another common issue. Finally, research shows that teens who engage in a variety of deviant behaviorstheft, fighting, and narcotic usealso use the mobile telephone to coordinate among themselves. In the case of "happy slapping" and the text/camera phone bullying, there is clearly a link between the technology and the behavior. In the case of other types of deviance, the mobile phone has not caused the conduct but rather is used to implement an already existing behavior (Ling, 2005).


Cyberbullying can take many forms. For example, a harassing message can be transmitted as a blog post, cell phone text message, or wWeb page comment. Similarly, bullying behavior can occur as mocking videos, pictures with denigrating captions, hurtful user-created cartoons or animations, and so on. The very tools that empower positive communication numerous legitimate uses also enable harassing behaviors.

One of the biggest challenges facing educators who are trying to address cyberbullying issues is the difficulty of monitoring all of the various communication methods that are available to students and employees (Ling, 2005). Shutting down a wWeb page or blog is not a viable solution when individuals can easily repost offending material on an infinite numbervariety of free wWeb site or blog hosts. Tracking down an anonymous e-mail could require a court order and still might result in failure. Even finding harassing or bullying content within the vast ocean of online material can be quite difficult; educators typically learn about hurtful messages from victims or other students and employees (Ling, 2005).

The ability of individuals to anonymously send or post material online is another challenge for educators. For example, if a student receives a harassing text message on her cell phone from an anonymous antagonist, it can be nearly impossible to track down the offender. Similarly, Internet service providers and online companies often provide individuals with the ability to either keep their identities secret or to create alternative, false identities. Breaking through the cloud ofCracking the veil of anonymity poses significant difficulties for educators attempting to address cyberbullying issues (Kasesniemi, Rautianen, 2002).

Educators who are working to reduce cyberbullying incidents must remember several key principles. The first is that school organizations have an affirmative obligation to protect students and staff from harassharassmenting or bullying conduct. Employees and students have the legally enforceable right to be free from hostile working and learning environments. Second, school officials must remember that the default rule is that student speech is protected, at least in public schools. In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, the Supreme Court first noted that students do not give up their constitutional rights simply because they attend school. (Hinduja, Patchin, 2009). Teachers and administrators should never operate from the initial assumption that student speech is unprotected. One notable exception to this rule is that true threats are never protected (Ito, 2005).

Any type of electronic communication that threatens, or reasonably appears to threaten, to or cause severe harm should fall under this exception and can be easily regulated by schools. Educators should be careful, however, to distinguish between true threats and insincere statements that pose little to no risk of actual harm. Other exceptions to the general rule include student speech that materially and substantially disrupts the school environment, is vulgar, or advocates illegal drug use (Castells, Fernandez-Ardevol, Qiu, Sey, 2004).

C Third, cyberbullying that occurs using school-owned equipment or technology systems is usually easy to regulate. Courts have upheld the right of public schools to regulate speech because of legitimate pedagogical concerns about school endorsement or sponsorship. Courts also have upheld the right of schools to search their own property, whether it be an e-mail system or a student locker. School organizations should have strong acceptable use policies (AUPs) for both students and employees that outlines the rights and responsibilities associated with using district technological equipment (Willard, 2007).. Consequences for violating the AUP also should be spelled out fairly explicitly. Legal enforcement of an AUP can be strengthened by having students and staff affirmatively sign each year that they have read and understood the document. (Willard, 2007).

Fourth, E educators must realize that cyberbullying that occurs off-campus using hardware or software that is not owned by the school organization may be quite difficult to regulate. In these instances, public school educators should tread carefully before attempting to discipline students for cyberspeech that occurs off school grounds. Only a few judicial rulingsopinions have dealt with school discipline for public school students' harassing, bullying, or insulting off-campus cyberspeech, and the vast majority has ruled against the schools. In these cases, courts have vigorously tended to protect students' First Amendment rights to express themselves absent a material and substantial disruption to the school learning environment (Ito, 2005). Insults, negative commentary, hurtful statements, degrading pictures, and contrarian viewpoints all have been found to fall within the protections of the First Amendment (Ito, 2005). Unless they can show a very significant impact on the school environment, school officials would be better served to substitute education, counseling, and informing victims of their private legal rights for school disciplinary procedures (Ito, 2005).

By the time young people reach their teen years, they report th at they believe that the Internet helps them with their relationships and their own forms of self-expression as well as with their homework. More than half (57%) of all teens 12 to 17 have created content for the Internet, including 22% who have created their

Cyberbullying issues still are relatively new, and future court cases will further delineate educators' ability to regulate bullying or harassing cyberspeech . Insofar as so much legal uncertainty still exists on this topic, school systems must ensure that ongoing training of administrators and teachers is an important component of their professional development efforts.

The increased use of mobile technolog ies by teens has developed into somewhat of a double edges sword. It seems that over time as connecting with peers and staying in touch with friends becomes easier so does bullying and harassment . Since cyberbullying issues are still relatively new, much o f its crimes are still going unpunished due muc h legal uncertainty still exist ing on this topic . S chool systems must ensure that ongoing training of administrators and teachers is an important component of their p rofessional development efforts in order to curb the problem of cyberbullying until future court cases outline educators ability to regulate harassing and bullying cyberspeech. In closing, since educators have to operate so highly regulated when dealing with these matters of bullying, it is plain to see that much of this problem falls up on a child's parents. As noted by Hinduja and Patchin parents are unable to protect their children form everything wrong, bad or evil in this world but there is much they can do to help their children feel safe and show they care such as monitoring their electronic activities and occasionally venturing into cyberspace with them


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