What is 'Cyberbullying'?
Cyberbullying, or online bullying, can be defined as the use of technologies by an individual, or by a group of people, to deliberately and repeatedly upset someone else. Cyberbullying is a method of bullying and should be viewed and treated the same as "real world" bullying and can happen to any member of the school community. Educational setting staff, parents and young people have to be constantly vigilant and work together to prevent and tackle bullying wherever it appears.
How is cyberbullying different to 'normal' bullying?
Cyberbullying is a method of bullying that is concerned with the use of ICT to upset, threaten or humiliate someone and should be treated as seriously as other forms of bullying. Cyberbullying rarely occurs in isolation and tends to include physical and emotional bullying offline.
What can sometimes make cyberbullying feel harder to manage can be the following:
- Cyberbullying can take place 24/7, creating a feeling of "no escape" for the victim, and is not restricted by location
- Electronic content is very hard to control once it has been posted and can never be guaranteed to be removed totally from circulation; this can be very upsetting to victims as they can never be sure who has viewed images or content about them.
- Bullies can attempt to be anonymous and can feel "distanced" from the incident. They are often unaware of the laws regarding harassment and the fact online activity can be traced via "digital footprints."
- "Bystanders" can easily become perpetrators by passing on videos, image or content, or by videoing incidents such as "happy slapping"'
- Cyberbullying can occur unintentionally, often due to a lack of awareness and empathy, or by thinking "It was only a joke."
- Cyberbullying enables harassment and upset to take place across generations; age and size is not an issue due to technology removing the power and size issues that could otherwise prevent bullying from occurring.
- Cyberbullying can sometimes even be perpetrated by the victim themselves (known as cyber/digital self-harm).
- One key positive with online bullying is that incidents can be used as evidence - e.g. text messages, messenger conversations, screenshots. It is important that this evidence is kept, not deleted and the victim does not retaliate.
- (Information taken from KELSI)