Online Dangers – Part 3 Cyberbullying
Wikipedia defines cyberbullying as “the use of the Internet and related technologies to harm other people, in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner.”
There are two types of cyberbullying:
Direct cyberbullying and indirect or proxy cyberbullying
Direct cyberbullying is when the victim is attacked directly by the bully via instant messages while online, texting insults and/or threats. The bully may insult or threaten through a blog or by creating a specific website. The bully may send out incriminating photos of the victim (real or Photoshopped). They may post their photo on sites like “Hot or Not” where people rate how attractive a person is, most often in a very cruel manner. They may also send pornographic images or bombard the victim with text messages so that, if they don’t have unlimited texting, they end up with a large phone bill, often getting their parents angry at them.
Proxy cyberbullying is when the bully gets someone or others to join in the bullying, using them to do much of the type of things involved in direct cyberbullying. A “Proxy Cyberbully will often pose as the victim (“Lisa said I was a slut!”) and enlist others to text or email the person that they are bullying (“Joan told me what you said about her! You’re the one who’s the slut! I saw how you were looking at my boyfriend”). The bully may also “steal” the victims online identity and pose as them online, picking fights with others, insulting them, etc… so that the victim is insulted and abused when they go online, often with no idea who these people who are abusing them are or why they are acting this way.
Too often, the one place where kids should be able to go is the last place they do because of misunderstanding and lack of information concerning cyberbullying. Parents all too often will either dismiss it with an unhelpfull comment like “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!” or they will overreact and end up humiliating the child in front of his or her friends. Unlike offline bullying where a child is safe once he or has been able to physically remove himself from the situation, a victim of cyberbullying continues to be victimized via text messages or whenever he goes online; home is no longer a safe place.
Additionally, a child can rapidly switch from being the victim to being the bully. In an effort to “get even” or “get back at” the bully, a child can easily use the same tactics as those used on him.
For more information on cyberbullies and how to properly deal with or prevent cyberbullying check out http://www.stopcyberbullying.org.