Bullying Types: Cyber - Bullying Series, post #4

(This blog post is part of a special series addressing the topic of bullying)

So, in this little blog series we’ve talked about what bullying is and what it is not. We’ve also explored 3 types of bullying – physical, verbal, and social. Now we are going to enter the virtual world – and talk about cyber bullying.

Cyber bullying gets its own classification, even though it is an extension of verbal and social bullying. It can include email, photos, videos, blog posts, chat rooms, text messaging, and social media channels such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Tumbler, Snapchat, Instagram, Pheed, Vine, MySpace, Skype, the list goes on and on.

Because of the widespread nature of the internet, cyber bullying is akin to bullying with a megaphone. With a simple click, a reputation can be sullied and a life can be ruined.

One problem with cyber bullying is that what is said or shared cannot be taken back. You can paint over graffiti on a bathroom wall, but you can’t remove messages or photos from every corner of the internet.

Another reality is what you consider a “private” message can be shared quickly and effortlessly. You should really consider digital communication as “private” as sending a postcard through the mail or talking out loud in a crowd.

Maybe one of the most insidious things about cyber bullying is that you cannot get away from it. If a student is bullied on the playground at school, when that student gets home, they are safe from the bully. If a student is being bullied online, that threat is always there – following them no matter where they go, or what they do.

A relatively new phenomenon is “sexting,” which involves sending sexually explicit photos, videos, and messages to others. This become cyber bullying when someone takes or shares the photo or video with the intention to harm, embarrass, threaten, blackmail, or humiliate someone. And, something that very few students realize is that even if you did not ask for these sexually explicit messages or photos to be sent, it is still “possession and/or distribution of child porn” if the subject is younger than the age of consent and you have or have had these things on your phone, computer, or other electronic device. This is serious business and lives can be ruined on both ends of the equation.

According to Psychology Today, sexting is on the rise and has been linked to depression and suicide. This phenomenon has also given rise to a new term “sextual harassment.” (See psychologytoday.com/blog/gender-and-schooling/200912/sexting-and-suicide)

Bullying has been around throughout history, and it can take on many forms. Physical, verbal, social, and cyber are four categories of bullying and all are harmful. Individuals can bully other individuals, but powerful social groups can also bully individuals or other vulnerable groups.

Why do people bully? That’s a topic for another day.

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