Cyberbullying: Research Paper

Studies indicate that cyber-bullying incidents have quadrupled in past five years (Ross). Cyber-bullying has become a huge issue recently. Every time you turn on the news there is another bullying, or a suicide related to bullying, incident being reported. “Love is louder” has been a common phrase among celebrities and influential figures lately. They are trying to send out a message to their followers saying that bullying is not right and should not be tolerated. The expansion of communication technologies is widening the way bully’s can torture their victims. The fact of the matter is, technology is not going anywhere, so we need to figure out a way to put an end to cyber-bullies. Cyber-bullying is becoming a major problem and we all need to do our parts in figuring out what can be done to stop cyber-bullies in their tracks.

Cyber-bullies will continue to be a threat to today’s youth until we take preventative measures against them. Before putting a stop to cyber-bullying we must understand why and how a cyber-bully works. After researching and analyzing informative articles on the topic, this research paper aims to inform and answer questions such as: what a cyber-bully is, how they work, whom they target, and how to stop them. By understanding how a cyber-bully works we will be able to better protect youth populations as technology grows.

Approximately half of  U.S. students are impacted by traditional bullying each school day (Ross). Cyber-bullying is technology powered and as technology expands it is getting harder and harder to see and prevent bullying from happening. Bullying over the Internet makes it easy for the tormenter to get away with their destructive behavior without any consequences. The article, “What is Cyberbullying: Bullying Comes Home” states, “Bullying is not new but thanks to the Internet teens are now being bullied at home. Online harassment is a serious problem” (Hardcaslte). Although the Internet has opened many doors to new opportunities, it has unfortunately taken bullying to another level. As the article, “Cyber Bullying Facts” states, “as the number of households with Internet access approaches saturation and cell phone ownership expands to the 100 million mark, so do the ways kids bully each other” (Ross). Anything sent out into cyberspace is very difficult, sometimes impossible, to remove. Therefore, being cyber-bullied can sometimes be much more severe than traditional bullying. Ann Frisen in the article, “Cyber-bullying: A Growing Problem” states, “This type of bullying can be more serious than conventional bullying. At least with conventional bullying the victim is left alone on evenings and weekends” (ScienceDaily).

What exactly is  ‘cyber-bulling’? The author of the article, “What is Cyberbullying: Bullying Comes Home” explains it as, “any harassment that occurs via the Internet” (Hardcastle). Cyber-bulling messages can be communicated through text, e-mails, instant messaging, web pages, blogs, chat rooms, or any other information communication technologies. For example, Michigan’s assistant attorney general, who is a grown adult, has been harassing the University of Michigan’s openly gay student body president. Andrew Shirvell, assistant Michigan attorney general, created a blog in April of 2010 targeting Chris Armstrong, University of Michigan’s student body president. On this blog he has posted many rude, untrue, and unnecessary comments towards Chris Armstrong, along with distorted pictures. According to the article, “Assistant Michigan AG targets openly gay college student” the author states, “Shirvell has published blog posts that accuse Armstrong of engaging in ‘flagrant sexual promiscuity’ with another male member of the student government; sexually seducing and influencing ‘a previously conservative male student’ so much so that the student, according to Shirvell, ‘morphed into a proponent of the radical homosexual agenda’” (Steward). Mr. Shirvell is clearly a first-hand example of a cyber-bully and this article goes to show that it’s not just kids bullying each other in school anymore; it’s much bigger than that. There have been at least three teen suicides in September after experiencing homophobic cyber-bullying.

Who are the main victims targeted by cyber-bullies?  According to the article, “Cyber-bullying Facts” Middle school and High school girls are twice as likely as boys to display cyber-bullying behaviors in the form of email, text, and chat, and only 20% of cyber-bullying victims tell their parents about the incident (Ross). Cyber-bullies target students, coworkers, neighbors, and even friends. Lately, there have been many reports of suicides related to bullying. For example, the recent death of Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers University, is an extreme case of cyber-bullying. The article, “Rutgers student death: Has Digital Age made students callous” informs, “Mr. Clementi killed himself on September 22nd, 2010. According to prosecutors, a few days earlier his roommate, Dharun Ravi, and another student, Molley Wei, used a Web cam to secretly transmit images of a sexual encounter between Clementi and another man. They intended to do so again on September 21” (Khadaroo). With cyber-bullying a bully can pick on people with less risk of being caught. People who you would not see bullying someone in school don’t have a problem using the Internet to bully their victims because you can’t see their initial reaction. Bullying cannot only hurt the victim emotionally it can also cause them to have frequent headaches, indigestion and vomiting, loss of sleep, loss of appetite, paranoia, and suicide. In Tyler Clementi’s case he was so overwhelmed by what had been done to him that he jumped off of the George-Washington Bridge.  It is important for college campuses to promote tolerance for differences, including homosexuality. From the article, “Rutgers student death: Has Digital Age made students callous” the author states, “We are tempted to think that social-media technology drove the behavior, but as a truly ethical matter, the behavior has to be and should be considered human-driven, not technology driven” (Foulkrod). Harrisburg University of Science and Technology in Pennsylvania recently blocked the use of social media for a week to prompt discussions about its role in everyday life. Nobody wants to see this happen again; therefore, we need to come up with a solution to the problem. Some observers of today’s youth and media culture believe that today’s media environment could be desensitizing young people to the hurtful effects of their actions.

What can be done to prevent cyber-bullying? Parents can start by talking specifically about cyber-bullying and explain that is harmful and unacceptable behavior. Talk regularly with your child about on-line activities he or she is involved in, keep your home computer in easily viewable places, such as a family room or kitchen, and consider installing a filtering or blocking system (Ross). Also, you can “outline your expectations for responsible online behavior and clearly explain the consequences for inappropriate behavior” (Ross). The most important thing that can be done to stop a cyber-bully harassing you is to just not respond to the bully. Do not play into the bully’s games. Ignore the bully and tell a parent or teacher. While ignoring the bullying make sure to save all of the evidence so that if police need to be involved you will have it ready. In the article, “What is Cyberbullying: Bullying Comes Home” states, “Repeated or excessive harassment via email, forums or chat rooms is harassment and should involve the police. Threats of violence should also be reported to the police. Try to save all messages as evidence” (Hardcastle). Treat a cyber-bully like you would any other bully and they will lose their power. Another important way to prevent cyber-bullying attacks is if you see something going on don’t just be a bystander and let it happen, report it before anyone gets hurt.

In conclusion, with the expansion of the Internet and social networking technologies cyber-bullying is becoming more common and more severe. The information presented in this research paper should give people a better understanding of what a cyber-bully is, how harmful they can really be, and how to prevent cyber-bullying from happening. This paper can be used to help victims realize they are not alone and should not give into a bully’s dangerous behaviors. This research paper is to inform society about what has been going on lately and how unacceptable and dangerous it is. Kids are killing themselves over photos, web posts, and videos posted by bullies using the Internet. Cyber-bullying is technology powered and will only get worse as technology becomes more widespread. Hopefully, this paper will help to inform today’s youth and parents. If you see any kind of bullying happening in front of you, stop it if possible, and then report it.

Works Cited

Hardcastle, Mike. “What is Cyberbullying?”  teenadvice.com.

<http://teenadvice.about.com/od/schoolviolence/a/cyberbullying1.htm>

Khadaroo, Stacy. “Rutgers student death: Has Digital Age made students callous?” 1

Oct. 2010. <http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2010/1001/Rutgers-

student-death-Has-Digital-Age-made-students-callous>

Miller, Christa. “Cyber Harassment.” Cyber Crimes Section. Pg. 26 Vol. 33 No.

4 (2006).

Ross, Margaret. “Cyber-Bullying Is Technology Powered.” Karmaron Institute.

<http://kamaron.org/Cyber-Bullying-Articles-Facts>

Stewart, Martina. “Assistant Michigan AG targets openly gay college student.” 28

Sept. 2010. Ac360.blogs.cnn.com

<http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2010/09/28/assistant-michigan-ag-targets-openly-

gay-college-student/>

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