School-Based Cyberbullying Interventions
Definition of Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is a growing trend with school-aged children. Current estimates are that as many as 20 to 35% of children and adolescents report experiencing cyberbullying as a bully, a victim, or both (1 & 3).
There is no standard definition of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying has been defined as “an individual or a group willfully using information and communication involving electronic technologies to facilitate deliberate and repeated harassment or threat to another individual or group by sending or posting cruel text and/or graphics using technological means” (4).
How is Cyberbullying Different from Traditional Bullying?
Despite the subtle differences, definitions share the following components which make cyberbullying distinct from traditional bullying:
- Access: It is virtually impossible for victims to get away from cyberbullies. Because most students have access to computers and cell phones at home, cyberbullies have access to and can reach their victims almost all the time. Victims do not have a safe haven as they do in cases of traditional bullying.
- Reach: Unlike traditional bullying, due to technology, the cyberbullying audience has few to no barriers and the audience easily grows almost exponentially.
- Anonymity: Cyberbullying is not a face-to-face interaction and cyberbullies hide behind technology. Anonymity which is inherent in electronic communication fosters lack of inhibition. As a result, normal behavior restraints can disappear, allowing adolescents to act harsher than they would in real life.
Initial research has demonstrated that being a victim of cyberbullying may negatively impact students’ physical, social, emotional, and cognitive functioning (2). Experts also claim that it is important for schools to ensure that they take reasonable precautions to protect their students from online aggression and respond to reported cases of cyberbullying in order to maintain a safe school climate (4 & 5). Experts also claim that school personnel need to understand what cyberbullying is, how it affects students, and what they can do to create a safe school environment. The goal of this article is to provide initial steps in addressing cyberbullying in schools.
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