Cyber Bullying has been called ‘an old problem in a new guise’
It’s unfortunate that the harassment tactics of bullies that has being existent probably for all time, now surfaces in the dark side of modern technology, giving rise to Cyber Bullying.
The significant growth of such technology has led to a rapid and extensive growth in the use of email, texting, chat rooms, and mobile phones including mobile phone cameras, and social media processes that are all so common in today’s world.
It is now through these methods that many bullies have found an outlet for their often insidious and almost always destructive behaviour.
So, let’s define Cyber Bullying
This form of bullying is defined as intentionally and repetitive aggressive behaviour designed to hurt or humiliate an individual who is likely to feel powerless to defend himself or herself. Such aggressive behaviour is likely to occur over a long period via the use of electronic forms of contact and may be verbal, (such as ridiculing, insulting or mocking the individual), relational (excluding the individual from a specific peer group), or indirect (such as spreading rumours or gossip about the individual).
Forms of Cyber Bullying
There are many types of cyber bullying:
cyberstalking: defined as the repeated and intense harassment and denigration that may include threats or create significant fear;
harassment: repeatedly making insulting or denigratory comments about an individual, such as spreading rumours or gossip to damage the person’s reputation;
outing: sharing an individual’s secrets or awkward experiences to deliberately embarrass the person;
flaming: the use of electronic means to swamp an individual with angry and vulgar language;
exclusion: deliberately and cruelly excluding an individual from a specific physical or online peer group or activity;
image-based abuse: when someone shares intimate, nude or sexual images of an individual without the permission of that person.
Other common forms of Cyber Bullying include online gaming abuse, ‘slut’ shaming, sexting, and Phishing.
The second most important response is to try to remain calm, and preserve evidence: this means to take a screenshot or other evidence of the bullying so that you can report this to appropriate authorities. The Office of the eSafety Commissioner (see reference at end of this paper) has information on how to collect evidence.
Next, it is important to report the issue to appropriate authorities: this may be school authorities, university or college administration, the police, the Office of the eSafety Commissioner, or workplace supervisors.
If the Cyber Bullying you are experiencing relates to image-based abuse, you can take action to get image or video removed from the website or social media application. Again, the Office of the eSafety Commissioner has good information on useful links for removing images.
If you have been subjected to Internet or cyber bullying, try to become aware of the impact on your emotional or psychological health; reach out and seek counselling support if you are feeling anxious, depressed or otherwise vulnerable as a consequence of this abuse.
Steve Jobson Principal Psychologist inSyncforlife.com.au
(1) Cyber Bullying: An Old Problem in a New Guise? Marilyn A. Campbell (a1)
(2) Clin Pract Epidemiol Ment Health. 2015; 11(Suppl 1 M4): 58–76. Published online 2015 Feb 26. doi: 10.2174/1745017901511010058
(3) Office of the eSafety Commissioner: safety.gov.au