Cyberbullying: The New Online Crime

by Scott Grabel

Elementary school bullying and high school harassment have been around for ages. Today, a new online crime is making itself more and more prevalent. More than 80% of teenagers use mobile phones, roughly 93% of college students engage on Facebook -- and more than 50% of teenagers and adolescents have been bullied by others through cellular technologies and the Internet. Recent studies show that the distance created by the Internet might pose a threat to the development of in-person social skills and many adolescents use the Internet to make the lives of others miserable. Cyberbullying occurs when someone uses mobile technologies or the Web to deliberately embarrass, harass or hurt someone else.

Social media sites and the Internet in general have created an interesting behavioral trend in teens and adolescents. The distance and illusion of “anonymity” offered by the Internet might encourage some to engage in online bullying. Online bullying works by using digital or electronic technologies. Experts consider multiple behaviors cyberbullying, including direct and indirect attacks and online bullying by proxy, or through an acquaintance. Cyberbullying works through the creation of a hostile online environment. It works when the bully creates intense feelings of fear, depression or anxiety in the victim.

People bully others for a number of reasons. Many teens and adolescents harbor feelings of hate and intolerance for others. In some situations, young people repeat the behaviors they witness at home. Sometimes, teens feel the pressure to “fit in” and perform acts of bullying to gain the appreciation or respect of their peers. Ultimately, young people bully others for a number of reasons. Parents should seek to identify bullying behavior, modify it and teach better social skills.

Bullying causes a number of moderate to severe side effects in the victim. Anxiety, depression and ultimately, suicide, are some of the most damaging effects of online harassment. The victim of electronic bullying may begin to show signs of their predicament. Failing grades, avoiding computer use, visible distress after using the Internet and withdrawal from family, friends and social groups are signs that something is amiss.

One of the biggest differences between traditional bullying and online harassment is location. School yard bullies torment their victims during a set range of hours each day; online bullying can take place 24 hours per day 7 days per week. In addition, online harassment can reach a wider audience in a short time. Electronic communications, such as text or embarrassing images, can cause continued anxiety and oftentimes, they are difficult to remove. Finally, confronting the source can prove difficult because locating the offender is difficult; in-person bullying only takes a visit to the school office or a parent’s home.

For more information about cyberbullying, refer to these resources: