According to a University of Michigan study, Cyberbullying isn’t only limited to affluent or middle class neighborhoods but the problem is as widespread in poor, high-crime neighborhoods as it is elsewhere. This side of the problem was previously neglected by parents and academics when they tried to find answers to the question “How to stop cyberbullying?” It was believed in the past that cyberbullying only persisted in high income neighborhoods because they had the resources to afford latest gadgets and fast internet connections. This recent study has managed to show the other side of the picture to the general public.
The Great Digital Divide
The “digital divide” is a term used for the difference between people who have easy access to the internet and those who don’t have such a privilege. According to the widely accepted meaning of this term, limited or no access to the internet is considered a disadvantage to those falling on the less privileged side of the digital divide. This belief is based on the fact that children living in poor neighborhoods are missing out on the treasure chest of knowledge present online.
The research team working on the University of Michigan study concluded that the concept of digital divide is fictional as far as cyberbullying is concerned.
"We found neighborhood conditions that are indicative of poverty and crimes are a significant predictor of bullying - not only for physical and verbal bullying, but cyberbullying as well," said Thomas J. Holt, associate professor of criminal justice at the university.
The researchers looked at survey results of at least 2,000 middle and high school students and found out that poor, crime-laden neighborhoods were an obvious indicator of physical, verbal and cyberbullying. Self-control among the children living in these areas was noted to be low.
Holt and his team concluded that teachers and school officials concerned should associate themselves with public awareness campaigns on cyberbullying in order to increase awareness on bullying prevention to help decrease this trend in deprived communities. The dark effects of cyberbullying can only be reduced by educating parents and teachers about this issue.
What Can Bullying Do to Children?
According to the data accumulated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 30 percent of American youth have experienced a bullying incident, either as perpetrators or victims. Furthermore, the Cyberbullying Research Center stats show that an estimated 2.2 million American students were harassed or cyberbullied in 2011 (increase from the 1.5 million mark in 2009).
Moreover, a 2010 University of California Los Angeles study revealed that students who were consistently bullied used to perform poorly in academics and the same students considered school as a place filled with negative energies. Cyberbullying in particular has been found to destroy a student’s concentration with respect to their academic performance.
Bullying is the Same Everywhere
Apart from the University of Michigan study, there are many other surveys and research papers that have concluded that cyberbullying is as prevalent in poor neighborhoods as it is in middle class/rich neighborhoods. Lack of resources have not made any significant difference in the amount of cyberbullying taking place within deprived communities which has also led towards bad academic display by children belonging to these areas. Since we now know that the cyberbullying problem is uniformly spread across the different strata of society, we can also take good measures in this regard by keeping the facts and figures right in front of us.