Aggression and Cyberbullying: An International Comparison
Cyberbullying mirrors the actions of bullying, but through the use of technology such as the internet and cell phones. The negative impacts on victims of cyberbullying are comparable to those who experience more traditional types of bullying. Not only has cyberbullying grown quickly in the United States, but countries all over the world are now dealing with this problem.
One issue regarding cyberbullying is that research is just starting to be conducted to identify the potential common factors between cyberbullying and more traditional types of bullying. One of those factors is aggression and what function aggression plays in cyberbullying. There are typically two types of aggression that focus on the function of bullying. They are proactive and reactive aggression.
- Proactive aggression: the use of aggression to achieve a goal. The following scenario highlights the use of proactive aggression by a student.
For example, April is a middle school student who has a crush on a boy in school. Her best friend, Mandy, has told her recently that she also has crush on the boy and is thinking about asking him out on a date. April can’t believe that Mandy would like the same boy and decides something has to be done. April uses Mandy’s e-mail account password and sends sexually suggestive e-mails to all of the male students at school under Mandy’s e-mail account. Everyone assumes Mandy sent the message and Mandy’s reputation plunges. This allows April to eliminate the competition for the boy’s affection.
- Reactive aggression: the use of aggression as a form of defense. The following scenario highlights the use of reactive aggression by a student.
For example, Mandy finds out that April was the one that broke into her e-mail account and sent the e-mails to the male students. Mandy decides to start sending anonymous threatening IMs and text messages to April. Mandy’s goal is to get back at April so she will stop spreading rumors and try to salvage her tarnished reputation.
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