Bullying had existed throughout the history of humankind. Today, the revolution in technology had moved bullying to a new advanced level – cyber-bullying. In general, cyber-bullying is an intended and repeated action for bringing an emotional harm to a person with the help of various electronic devices and communication technologies.
The main distinguishing feature of cyber-bullying is a bigger kind of damage caused to the victims both in quantity and quality. The term ‘cyber-bullying’ determines the use of electronic devices in bullying a person, for example, cell phones, computers, etc. Since every act of cyber-bullying with the help of technologies has a negative impact on victims, this issue should be considered more closely to determine the significance of damage it causes, and observe the effectiveness of ways to fight with it.
With the advances in modern technologies, the cyber-bullies have more opportunities to bring serious emotional damage to their victims. The most widely used technologies are the cell phones, software, and the Internet (Hinduja, & Patchin, 2009).
Cell phones are used in cyber-bullying for making calls and sending messages to the victims in order to make threats or harass without being identified, and thus, escape punishment for such actions because it would be rather hard to prove guilt of the cyber-bully. Software is also widely used for cyber-bullying, especially graphic editing programs.
Today, such programs are highly advanced, and a person can make a realistic fraud photo in few minutes. For example, a cyber-bully can create a realistic ‘photo’ of his or her victim being nude or with physical defects and show it to other people. The Internet is one of the key elements of cyber-bullying because the victim can be reached in many ways like email, blogs or other private pages on social networking sites like Facebook.
The cyber-offenders may use the Internet to harm their victims in many ways like sending offensive letters to the victims and to other people, showing offensive or harassing images or videos to their acquaintances or unfamiliar people all over the world (for example, uploading harassing videos on Youtube) (Hinduja, & Patchin, 2009).
Even though cyber-bullying does not imply any physical damage, it brings significant harm to the victim’s psychological health condition. People who are bullied (especially children and adolescents) may suffer from the serious cases of depression, fear, anxiety, sleep disorders, anger, etc. The situation can be worsened by the fact that the victim cannot be isolated from the bully even at home as it can be done with the common type of bullying.
Moreover, with cyber-bullying, the victim may not realize who is the real offender and expects threats from everybody that causes a constant stress. The effects of cyber-bullying can be short-termed as well as long-termed. Unfortunately, if the victim does not find the way to cope with the fact of being cyber-bullied or cannot find the way for stopping it, the consequences may be serious and irreversible, for example, a serious mental health damage or suicide.
Unfortunately, a national common law that prohibits cyber-bullying does not exist yet, however, many states in the US try to implement their own laws against it (“Cyberbullying”, 2014). One of the tactics that might be used for fighting with cyber-bullying is implementing a special department that would investigate each case of cyber threats or harassment, and found the offenders through the IP address of the computers from which the threats were sent.
Also, providing special programs for explaining young people that cyber-bullying is against the law and such actions will be investigated, as well as telling what should be done in the cases of being bullied.
The abovementioned programs are effective in theory, however, the programs for fighting with cyber-bullying by explaining the consequences already exist but the issue remains to be unsolved, therefore, they must be improved. On the other hand, if the offenders are aware that their actions will be investigated, which leads to the serious punishment by the legislative system, the whole situation could be improved.
Cyber-bullying is one of the most serious moral problems in today’s world. The current situation is worsened by the fact that many of the victims do not tell anyone about being bullied and suffer in silence. Since cyber-bullying causes significant damage not only to separate individuals but to the society in general this issue must be solved on the national level by making the existing laws more strict, for example making cyber-bullying legally equal to incitement to suicide.
Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (2009). Bullying beyond the schoolyard: Preventing and responding to cyberbullying. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
National Conference of State Legislatures. (2014). Cyberbullying. Retrieved from http://www.ncsl.org/research/education/cyberbullying.aspx