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Cyber Bullying: Not So Typical Bully

Just as we are beginning to understand and prevent bullying on a systematic level, along comes an entirely unique and cruel form: cyber bullying. Cyber bullying is an entirely different animal. It happens in private while traditional bullying typically occurs in the open, where there are few adults present. The bully, the bystanders, and the victim are often in the cafeteria, hallway, school bus or playground. By contrast, victims of cyber bullying may not even be able to identify their aggressor. Like classic bullies, cyber bullies are after power and want to inflict pain on their peers. Through technology, cyber bullying spreads like wild fire in cyber space, where parents offer little protection, as we are the digital immigrants and our children are the digital natives and can often create problems such as social phobia and school phobia.

 

Cyber bullying comes in many different forms as well. It’s done through email, instant messaging, postings to online bulletin boards or social networking sites, and through cell phones. According to the article, “Cyber Bullying: Intervention and Prevention Strategies” by Ted Feinberg & Nicole Robey of the National Association of School Psychologists 2009, there are several types of cyber bullying:

 

  • Flaming – On-line fights using vulgar language
  • Exclusion – Intentionally excluding someone from an online group
  • Outing and trickery – Engaging someone in instant messaging or text, tricking them into revealing secret information, and then forwarding the information to others
  • Harassment and stalking – Repeatedly sending cruel or threatening messages
  • Denigration – Posting degrading information or gossip about someone to ruin his or her reputation or friendships
  • Impersonation – Breaking into someone’s email account and sending out vicious or embarrassing messages to others.

 

In addition to having its own unique forms of bullying, cyber bullying has its own unique type of bully. And so far, there is no evidence that kids and teens who are bullies on the playground are also cyber bullies, though they both may leave their victims with social phobias and school phobias.

 

We carry in our heads and hearts the portrait of the classic bully. Movie characters often portray the typical bully who inflicts school phobias on their victims making them dread the next day at school. Victims are often characterized by their social phobias in movies, which makes the typical bully seem that much more powerful.

 

Anonymity frees the cyber bully from the constraints of the typical bully. The cyber bully doesn’t need a posse or a group of onlookers to ensure and maintain his or her position of power. He need not be imposing, and she need not be popular. With a simple click of a button the cyber bully gets immediate gratification. And often there are no consequences for their behavior.

If you or someone you know has developed social phobias or school phobias as a result from cyber bullying, contact In Step today to talk about our social skills training groups.

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