For years and up until now people have been brushing the damages of bullying under the carpet as a rite of passage. But with time and technology, the face of bullying has taken on a new and more distorted look. Today, bullying is not just limited to play grounds and school yards - this is the age of cyber bullying, a ruthless and relentless way of harassing a victim 24/7.
The more technology advances in the field of communication, the more sophisticated and cruel cyber bullying becomes. A careful analysis of news sources of the past decade will unveil a number of tragic incidents triggered by cyber bullying.
Communication experts believe that, there are very pronounced differences between bullying that takes place on the playground and cyber bullying. But just what makes cyber bullying worse than traditional bullying? Here are some of its most prominent differences:
- Cyber bullying is relentless. The victim is defenseless 24/7 - not just in school but at home as well.
- There is no hiding for the victim. Cyber bullying can be done quickly and spread out to a wider audience.
- Numerous mediums can be used for bullying: email, cell phones, social media sites and other websites
- 90% of the time the bully is known to the victim, but cannot be identified because they are using fake email addresses and accounts or someone else's mobile.
- Anyone and everyone indulges in cyber bullying of some kind while they are online, simply reposting an objectionable picture or posting a comment can be seen as cyber bullying.
- Since cyber bullying has anonymity on its side it can go on for months, and in some cases even years.
- Cyber bullying is more damaging than simple teasing or bullying because it makes data available to the online audience of embarrassing pictures or comments about the victim. This further enlarges the circle of bullies and the victim feels like there is no escape.
Not only is cyber bullying different and more damaging in the way it is conducted, it also commands its own set of terms used to describe various kinds of cyber bullying. According to New York State's Division of Criminal Justice Services, here are a few common types of cyber bullying in schools and in general:
- Denigration: Spreading damaging rumors, disclosing hurtful secrets or making statements online which result in damaging an individual's reputation.
- Exclusion: Excluding the victim on purpose from online groups and activities.
- Flaming: starting an onslaught of cruel, rude or vulgar text messages or emails to the victim.
- Happy Slapping: Attacking an individual physically or in any other embarrassing way, while someone else takes pictures of it and then posting and sending those pictures to contacts online.
- Impersonation: Pretending to be someone else or creating a fake id for the sole purpose of sending or posting damaging material online with the intent to harass the victim or ruin their reputation.
- Outing: circulating messages or images online about the victim which contain sensitive, private, or embarrassing information.
- Text Wars/Attacks: Relentlessly hounding the victim with mean text messages and emails.
The reason why it is important for parents to know of all this? Well cyber bullying is robbing our children and teens of their innocence and joys of the age they are in because there is no adult supervision. Very few parents are familiar with the chat language used by teens online, let alone being up to date with the technologies they are using. So if you want to step into the arena and stop cyber bullying, you need to know what you are up against.