This presentation argues that cyber bullying is not ordinary bullying of the kind that schools have been dealing with, but is a new type of bullying and much more serious. It is far more pervasive, more difficult to track and more difficult to stop. And as such new policies and systems are needed to deal with it outside the school system.
Cyber bullying is an evolution of bullying using new technologies to bully students. It can take place via email, phones, webcams, websites, social media sites, chatrooms etc. It is a new issue that has attracted a lot of media attention due to high profile incidents such as suicides that have been associated with it (see for example AAP, 2010).There is, however, a lack of explicit focus on this issue in schools. Almost all schools in Australia would have a bullying policy. In States it is mandated that a bullying policy of some sort will exist and in private schools it would seen as highly desirable given the amount of media coverage and the law suits that have surrounded the issue (they are mandated by the various state government education authorities see for example NSW Department of Education and Training, 2011).Many though will not have a cyber bullying policy, it will be treated as someone else's problem or as ‘simple’ bullying and the bullying policy will be used to deal with it. For example in the above NSW policy cyber bullying is expressly mentioned as something to be included in the school bullying policy but there is no guidance on how or why it is to be done or what is different about cyber bullying or how it could be dealt with.Bullying is indeed inclusive of cyber bullying but it is the practical issues that surround cyber bullying that make it different. For example what does it constitute? Some approaches will be to ignore it as it is simple ‘mucking round on the internet’ or a ‘prank’ etc. on a phone. Some will argue that a single text or email will be sufficient for a victim to feel bullied.Cyber bullying is different to traditional bullying in that it will occur quite often outside of school grounds, it will occur at all hours, will often be anonymous and may be permanent. A traditional bully can only wait ‘round the corner’ for so long, a cyber bully cannot be escaped or avoided without avoiding technology itself. (Strom & Strom, 2005).
There are a range of definitions of cyber bullying, from “sending a nasty email” as in Perren, S., Dooley, J., Shaw, T. & Cross, D. (2010) to a very genericdefinition in the NSW DET policy “Cyberbullying refers to bullying through information and communication technologies.” . Can it be a one off incident or must it be repeated? How harmful must it be? Thus the incident of cyber bulling has been said to range from 4 to 46 percent of American students (Internet Safety Technical Task Force). Similarly in Australia rates range from 10 percent (Perren, et al 2009) to 20 percent (Longwill, 2010) and some studies have shown 50 percent or more (a variety of studies are detailed in Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety, 2011).There are also large differences in reports of cyber bullying depending on the which way students are asked, for example asking if you had ever been cyber bullying or bullied resulted in far lower identification then that of questions specifically relating to cyber bulling such as “had you left an insulting comment on a website about fellow student” (Gradinger, Strohmeier & Spiel, 2010). A student may indicate no they were not a cyber bully but answer yes to questions like that.Other differences include issues such as whether or not it must be repeated in order to constitute bullying; what sort of intent is required and whether or not it must involve only minors to remain bullying (Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety, 2011).The issue of how cyber bullying is defined is important as it affects the rate of reported cyber bullying and thus how important or unimportant the issue is for schools and governments to deal with. It is also a far more practical issue for school policies and their students: if a definition is too loose it could encompass a wide range of activities, such as a the ability to make a critical comment about a fellow students work, whilst a strict definition would see many incidents ignored.
This is a recent study into the proportion of students who have been victims of cyber bullying. This is an example of the use of a “global” question regarding cyber bullying. That is where a student is asked whether or not they were bullied, if they asked about the elements of cyber bullying (for example such as had you sent an offensive text message) the results would likely be higher.We can also note the large variance in proportions from year to year and from gender. The trend here is for girls to victims in greater numbers, this is reflected in some studies but not others.
Cyber bullying takes place using technology. It primarily involves name-calling, threats, spreading rumours, sharing another person’s private information, social isolation, and exclusion (Beran & Li, 2005). The forms which this can take are direct and indirect, direct bullying can take place by directly insulting/harassing/threatening a student or taking control (hacking) a students account and destroying/altering/sharing material. It can also take place indirectly by a number of means such as the more passive exclusion (ie not friends, blocking users etc) through to posting material to sites or creating sites which contain insulting/embarrassing etc material (Beran & Li, 2005). It is also easy to maintain and permanent, a website may retain the material indefinitely.There is also a perception that cyber bullying is not as harmful as ordinary bullying as it is online and not physical (Willard, 2002). This may also result from a lack of feedback to cyber bullies of the results of their actions (Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety, 2011). The major characteristic that differentiates cyber bullying from bullying is the spatial component of cyber bullying. A large amount of cyber bullying takes place outside the school (Smith et al, 2008). It can occur 24 hours a day without regard to geographical or time limitations. Once victims had the ability to avoid or at least reduce their victimisation (Strom and Strom, 2005) now they can expect no letup. Any content left by attackers will simply wait for the user to access it. Another key characteristic of cyber bullying is anonymity (Patchin & Hinduja, 2006). An attacker may be anonymous by virtue of the lack of identification or by use of various nicknames or different accounts. A corollary of this is that an attackers can seem to be many different people all set against a victim. This anonymity can cause attackers to be more aggressive than normal (Mason, 2008) and encourage students who would not otherwise participate to do so (Ybarra & Mitchell, 2004). It also makes catching perpetrators difficult and can make it much more frightening for victims.This makes cyber bulling a stealth problem. Despite widespread media attention it is generally unknown amongst parents, 90% of students do not tell their parents or other adults that they are being cyber bullied (Willard, 2002; Price & Dalgleish, 2010). As it is a virtual space students can be cyber bullied without anyone knowing that it is happening (Price & Dalgleish, 2010).
An issue now is the ubiquity of the technology. A student cannot be affected without access to technology, it was previously the case that only a minority of students would have access to mobile phones and the internet. Now most students will have access to the technology. For example in Perren, et al (2010) 95 percent of students had home internet access and 92 percent had a mobile phones. It is no longer optional to have a phone or use the internet for a student it is generally a social if not academic necessity (Goff, 2011). A consequence will be rising rates of bullying and traditional methods of avoidance, like keeping out of bullies space will see students severely affected in school both academically and socially. Indeed this may be a reason why so few students report incidents to adults for fear of losing access to these spaces.Anonymity raises a number of issues. For instance it makes finding perpetrators difficult. Many victims do not know their attackers, and even where they do know their attackers it can be difficult to prove. For example many victims claim to ‘know’ who attacked them by guessing, via a nickname used online or via being bullied in the real world at the same time (Price & Dalgleish, 2010) but this is not the same as actually knowing who the perpetrators are and being able to take action against them from a school or legal perspective. Anonymity can also mask more direct threats such as adult predators. Not all cases of cyberbulling involve students at the same school. It could involve family members, students from other schools and adults or it could be a form of sexual or other abuse from an adult. Students will be unable to tell who is targeting them (See in the US Internet Safety Technical Task Force and in Australia Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety, 2011). Cyber bullying causes poor academic performance, school dropout, physical violence, and suicide, physical and mental issues (Mason, 2008) such as stress and depressive symptoms (Perren et al 2010) and may contribute to suicide (Hinduja & Patchin, 2010). These are all important issues affecting the health and wellbeing of students.
There is an argument that it is simply an extension of ordinary bullying (Beran & Li, 2007) and there is a wide degree of similarity between the two(ie where a cyber bully is also a traditional bully). In one study56 percent of cyber victims are also involved in traditional bullying (Beran & Li, 2007). This argument states that it can therefore be dealt with using existing measures and no additional issues arise. This has some merit as there are a large number of students who are bullied online and off.Following from this another issue arises with anonymity, there are arguments (Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety, 2011) that there really isn’t anonymity as many students bullied off line as well and so know exactly who is the perpetrator. It is also possible for this anonymity to be breached by a variety of technical and legal means (Longwill, 2010).The high rates of cyber bulling may be explained by retaliation, as some cyber bullies do not fit the background of more traditional bullies (Price & Dalgleish, 2010). Many students who have been bullies are also victims and it is argued that due to the lack of action in this area students are resorting to ‘striking back’ as a method of dealing with bullies.
This is a graphic showing the percentage of students that are both bullies and victims. The clear trend is that bullies are more often then not also victims. The reasons for this aren’t clear but it has been suggested (Li, 2007b) that it may be related to: the easy and anonymous nature of cyber attacks which encourages participation or, related, a lack of appropriate responses from areas which encourages retaliation by victims (Goff, 2011).
Generally there are 3 approaches to dealing with the issue: laws and polices; educational programs for students, parents and schools and technological security solutions (Snakenborg, Van Acker & Gable, 2011). As with most solutions it takes a combination of all these in order to make a difference (Stroud, 2009) .Laws and policies are in existence in Australia (see our earlier reference to policies) through education department policies and legislation such as the NSW DET Policy and a range of cyber stalking, defamation, assault and other laws (Longwill, 2010). These laws and policies must be properly targeted or will not be effective (Willard, 2002), none of these laws and few of the policies consistently deal with the issue of cyber bullying. It is a case of what can be shoehorned into laws designed for other matters. It is recommended that specific school policies and specific state laws be enacted to deal with the issue rather then trying to squeeze the issue into another area.Additionally due to the anonymous nature of bullying it may not be possible to identify attackers, even where police or courts are involved it is not always possible to take action, where for example a website is hosted overseas (O'Neil, 2008). Practical policies such as banning photos in general or phones in changing rooms can help minimise risks (Forde & Hardley, 2011) . As an additional and easier measure it is recommended that practical policies such as this be implemented, photos of can always be arranged by students if they wish, but there is no need to randomly take photos or videos in the school.Educational programs are another potential option. These can take a range of approaches such as educating students specifically about cyber bullying and what actions to take, through to general resilience and confidence building measures. There is a perception that this will be highly useful (Ryan, Kariuki & Yilmaz, 2011; Stroud, 2009) but generally school wide interventions have been seen only slight success (Rigby & Slee, 2008). For example in Australia only a 16 percent reduction in bullying was observed in a recent study (Cross, et al 2011). However it must be acknowledged that bullying can only be reduced not eliminated. These programs depend on the commitment and culture of the school, so it is recommended that students be educated about the issues and methods to cope with cyber bully and this be integrated into a bullying resilience and education program. Technological approaches can be taken. These can be an important ‘self help’ option for students, such as the ability to block or exclude attackers from services (Smith et al, 2008) but can also be school wide endeavours such as filtering and control of school internet access and various social websites abilities to deal with clearly abusive or inappropriate content. This approach is still valid but has become much more difficult then in the past (Wolfsberg, 2006) due to changes in the way technology is used. Student will still get value in learning some of these techniques, but there needs to be pressure on social networking sites in particular to ensure that they provide easy methods of protection and removal of abuse.
Cyber bullying is different to other forms of bullying and has special needs and issues to take into account. It requires action at all levels in order to reduce its severity and prevalence: from laws to education. It must also be recognised that, like bullying itself, it will not disappear entirely and is going to be a permanent fixture in schools of the future.
As discussed the nature of cyber bulling and traditional bullying are related yet different and different approaches must be made to identify and deal with it in a policy context. But the underlying focus of the bullying seems to be the same, could an improved or modified approach to bullying education programs and practical programs for students (such as building resilience and self-esteem) be sufficient to reduce both problems?2. In Canadian schools mobile phones are banned and thus we see a reduced incidence in cyber bullying as a result of this (Li, 2007). Is this reduction worth it, it does not eliminate the problem as there are still many other platforms available, at what point does the value of banning some technology or application become worth it. Remembering of course the difference between policy and implementation, ie what is said to be done and is actually done.3. The very nature of cyber bullying and what makes it different is the fact that in many instances it will not occur on school grounds or in school time and in fact will not occur in the ‘real world’ at all. Can the school be expected to deal with this? How does a school track or trace phone numbers, email addresses, ip’s, or web site records? Where an alleged bully has even left a name is this real or reliable and can be acted upon? What consequences can a school enforce, it can’t forbid technology use or control outside of school space.
The first two readings give an introduction to the subject and some practical advice. The next two readings give in-depth guidance to the issues and to the many studies into the topic. The final reading gives advice as to the best way to educate students against bullying.Reference ListAAP (2010)Magistrate Slams Cyber Bullies. SMH 8 April 2010Beran, T. & Li, Q. (2005). Cyber-Harassment: A Study of a New Method for an Old Behavior. Journal of Educational Computing Research 32.3 265-277. Beran, T., & Li, Q. (2007). The Relationship Between Cyber-bullying and School Bullying. Journal of Student Wellbeing 1.2 15-33 Cross, D., Monks, H., Hall, M., Shaw, T., Pintabona, Y., Erceg, E., Hamilton, G., Roberts, C., Waters, S. & Lester, L. (2011) Three‐Year Results Of The Friendly Schools Whole‐Of‐ School Intervention On Children’s Bullying Behaviour. British Educational Research Journal 37.1 105-129 Forde, H. & Hardley, V. (2011) Sexting The Legal Implications. Teacher June/July 56 Gradinger, P., Strohmeier, D., & Spiel, Ch. (2010). Definition and Measurement of Cyberbullying. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 4(2), http://cyberpsychology.eu/view.php?cisloclanku=2010112301&article=1 Goff, W. (2011) The Shades Of Grey Of Cyberbullying In Australian Schools. Australian Journal of Education 55.2 176–181 Internet Safety Technical Task Force http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/research/isttf Accessed 22 April 2012 Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety (2011) High-Wire Act Cyber-Safety and the Young Interim Report. Canberra: The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia Li, Q. (2007) New Bottle But Old Wine: A Research Of Cyberbullying In Schools. Computers and Human Behavior 23 1777–1791 Li, Q (2007b) Bullying In The New Playground: Research Into Cyberbullying And Cyber Victimisation. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology 23.4 435·454 Longwill, T. (2010) Cyberbullying. Teacher May 48-52 Mason, K. (2008) Cyberbullying: A Preliminary Assessment For School Personnel. Psychology in the Schools 45 323–348 NSW Department of Education and Training (2011) Preventing and Responding to Student Bullying in Schools Policy https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/policies/student_serv/discipline/bullying/PD20100415.shtml O'Neil, R. (2008) It's Not Easy to Stand up to Cyberbullies, but We Must. Chronicle of Higher Education 54.44 Patchin, J. & Hinduja, S. (2006) Bullies Move Beyond The Schoolyard: A Preliminary Look At Cyberbullying. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice 4 148–169 Patchin, J. & Hinduja, S. (2010). Bullying, Cyberbullying, And Suicide. Archives of Suicide Research 14.3 45-56 Perren, S., Dooley, J., Shaw, T. & Cross, D. (2010) Bullying In School And Cyberspace: Associations With Depressive Symptoms In Swiss And Australian Adolescents. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health 2010 4:28 doi:10.1186/1753-2000-4-28 Price, M. & Dalgleish, J. (2010) Cyberbullying Experiences, Impacts And Coping Strategies As Described By Australian Young People. Youth Studies Australia 29.2 51 Smith, P., Mahdavi, J., Carvalho, M., Fisher, S., Russell, S. & Tippett, N. (2008) Cyberbullying: Its Nature And Impact In Secondary School Pupils. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 49.4 376–385 Strom, P. & Strom, R. (2005) When Teens Turn Cyberbullies. Education Digest: 71.4 35–41. Rigby, K. & Slee, P. (2008) Interventions To Reduce Bullying. International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health 20.2 165–183 Ryan, T., Kariuki, M. & Yilmaz, H. (2011) A Comparative Analysis Of Cyberbullying Perceptions Of Preservice Educators. Canada And Turkey The Turkish Online Journal Of Educational Technology July 10.3 Snakenborg, J., Van Acker, R. & Gable, R. (2011): Cyber bullying: Prevention and Intervention to Protect Our Children and Youth. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth 55:2 88-95 Stroud, S. (2009) Fight Fire with Fire. T.H.E. Journal 36.9 Willard, N. (2002). Computer Ethics, Etiquette, And Safety For The 21st-Century Student.OR: ISTE. Wolfsberg, J. (2006) Student Safety from Cyberbullies, in Chat Rooms and in Instant Messaging. The Education Digest October 5 Ybarra, M. & Mitchell, K. (2004) Online Aggressor/Targets, Aggressors, And Targets: A Comparison Of Associated Youth Characteristics. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 45 1308–1316.
“Cyberbullying involves using communication technology to harass, intimidate, threat en, or otherwise harmImage:http://www.flickr.com/photos/a others” (Hinduja &ndrewrennie/5207163798/in/photostream/ Patchin, 2010, p. 21).
PROPORTIONS• Figure 3.3 Proportion (%) of those that have been the targets of cyber-bullying the past 12 months. (Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety, 2011)
Image:http://www.flickr.com/photos/gi bsonsgolfer/6300856067/in/photostreaIS: Technology m/ Non Violent Spatial Annoymous “UNTIL RECENTLY, THE VICTIMS OF BULLYINGCONSIDERED THEIR HOMES A PLACE OF SAFETY, A SANCTUARY WHICH THEY COULD TAKE FROM ABUSIVE PEERS.” STROM AND STROM 2005
ALTERNAT BullyingIVES Named Retaliation Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jdhancock/3420540107/in/p hotostream/
BULLY VICTIMS• Proportion (%) of those that cyber-bullied who have also been targets of cyber-bullying by others aged 13 years and over Figure 3.2 (Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety, 2011)
RECOMMENDATIONS A combination of approaches to use: Education and Tougher Laws Technological intervention and Policies Measures programs Practical Policies
CONCLUSION Different Action PermanentImage:http://www.flickr.com/photos/bubbo-tubbo/1074429847/in/photostream/
QUESTIONS1. Can we reduce or control cyber bullying by focusing onbullying in general 2. Is banningtechnology (such as phones) an overreaction or justified3. Can a schoolrealistically dealwith these issues? Image:http://www.flickr.com/photos/pi mkie_fotos/2513823082/
RECOMMENDED READINGS• Kids Helpline http://www.kidshelp.com.au/grownups/news- research/hot-topics/cyber-bullying.php• Digital Citizenship http://www.digitalcitizenship.nsw.edu.au/• Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety (2011) High- Wire Act Cyber-Safety and the Young Interim Report. Canberra: The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia• Internet Safety Technical Task Force http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/research/isttf• Chadwick, R. (2010) Education The Key To Keeping Kids Safe Online. FYI Autumn 14-16