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Presentation Slides
Understanding Cyberbullying
Dan Florell
Eastern Kentucky University
Session 2
The What and How of
Cyberbullying:
Effect and Impact
Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network
King of Prussia, PA January 3, 2011
Bullying

Form of aggression in which a
more powerful individual or
group repeatedly inflicts
negative act upon individuals
who are less powerful
(Olweus, 2001)
Types of Bullying




Physical bullying
◦ Hitting, kicking, pushing, taking personal
belongings
Verbal bullying
◦ Taunting, teasing, threatening
Emotional and Psychological bullying
◦ Spreading rumors, manipulating social
relationships
Cyberbullying
◦ Sending or posting harmful material or engaging
in other forms of social aggression using the
Internet or other digital technologies
Frequency of Bullying Victimization Among
11-16 Year Olds
3% 3%
5%
Never
Less often than monthly
Once or twice a month
Once or twice a week
Everyday
27%
62%
(n=1,193)
(Ybarra, 2009)
Frequency of bullying victimization among
11-16 year olds by environment
100%
90%
80%
70%
Everyday
Once or twice a week
Once or twice a month
Less often than monthly
Never
60%
50%
40%
30%
20%
10%
0%
School
(Ybarra, 2009)
Internet
Cell phone text
messaging
To and from school Some other place
(n=1,193)
Bullying Characters
Bully
 Victim
 Bully-victim
 Bystander

Children Who Bully






Lack empathy
Good self-esteem
Concerned with own desires rather than
those of others
Find it difficult to see things from
someone else’s perspective
Are willing to use others to get what they
want
May experience or witness violence at
home
Typical Victim Characteristics


Quiet and sensitive
May be perceived as being different or weak
◦
◦
◦
◦
◦


Appearance
Sexual orientation
Intellect
Socio-economic background
Cultural or religious background
May experience psychosomatic symptoms
like enuresis or sleep disturbances
May accept that they deserve to be taunted
Health Consequences of Bullying
(Fekkes et al., 2003)
Headache
Sleep problems
Abdominal pain
Feeling tense
Anxiety
Feeling unhappy
Depression scale
moderate indication
strong indication
Bullied
16%
42%
17%
20%
28%
23%
Not bullied
6%
23%
9%
9%
10%
5%
49%
16%
16%
2%
Bullying Causes Long-Term Damage
to Both Source and Target
Bullies
Victims
Poor psycho-social functioning
Poor academic performance
Poor relationship building
Loneliness
Discipline problems
Childhood depression
Dislike school
Anxiety
Drugs and alcohol
Adult depression
4X rate of criminal behavior
Poor self-esteem
Somatic symptoms
School refusal
Suicide ideation
Typical Bully/Victim Characteristics
Are targets of bullies and also bully
younger or weaker children
 Hyperactive and emotionally reactive
 At risk for persistent social and behavior
problems
 Typically worst outcomes of all types of
bullies and victims

Concern About Bully/Victims

Display the social-emotional problems of
victimized children AND the behavioral
problems of children who bully
◦ Poor relationships with classmates
◦ Lonely
◦ Poorer academic achievement
◦ Higher rates of smoking and alcohol use
◦ More frequent fighting
◦ Depression and Anxiety
Relational Bullying - Age Differences

Preschool through adolescence, targets of
relational aggression experience similar socialpsychological maladjustment (Crick et al., 2002; Crick & Nelson,
2002).

Younger children tend to use overt aggression
due to lack of development (Henington et al., 1998).
◦ Language is needed to use relational aggression

Adolescents use relational aggression to
maintain social prominence or perceived
popularity (Rose, Swenson, & Waller, 2004).
Development and Rise of Bullying

Identity issues
◦ Bullying peaks in middle school

Autonomy issues
◦ Not report as admit weakness

Relationship – Friends
◦ Establish hierarchy in friendship groups
◦ Establish social dominance hierarchy

Relationship – Dating
◦ Establish boundaries for who can date who
Cyberbullying
Definition
Cyberbullying involves use of information
and communication technologies such as email, cell phone text messages, instant
messaging, and defamatory personal Web
sites, to support deliberate, repeated, and
hostile behavior by an individual or group
that is intended to harm others. - Bill Belsey
Bullying and Cyberbullying:
Similarities and Differences


Similarities:
◦ Many times bullies and cyberbullies are the same person
as are the victims
Differences:
◦ Cyberbullying is sent through technology
◦ Content does not go away once on Internet
 Editable, alterable
◦ Content reaches a large audience quickly
◦ Less censoring of comments online and text
◦ Invasive
Overlap Between Bullying and Cyberbullying




Victims at school tend to be victims online (18%)
Bullies at school tend to bully online (12-30%)
◦ 12% were victims of cyberbullying
Bully/victims at school tend to be bully/victims
online
◦ 16-19% engaged in cyberbullying
◦ 22-33% were victims of cyberbullying
No bullying or victimization (81% of school)
◦ 1% engaged in cyberbullying
◦ 3.5% were victims of cyberbullying
Making Fun of the Sasquatch



Julie was with her friends at the mall and they
were taking pictures with their cell phones.
Julie saw a boy from school and she took a picture
of him too.
When she got home, she decided to upload her
pictures to her MySpace page so her friends could
see.
Making Fun of the Sasquatch




As Julie was labeling her friends in the
photo she ran across the boy’s photo.
She thought it would be fun to label him
Sasquatch.
Her friends loved it! Everyone started
calling the boy Sasquatch.
Julie thought nothing of it until she saw the
boy crying on his way to school a week
later.
Lesson of the Invisible Man

Invisible Man Effect
◦ No accountability
◦ No punishment
◦ Free to engage in any
behavior

Behavior and
Comments run out of
control!
Why It Happens: I Can’t See You

I can’t see you: When people use the Internet
they don’t receive tangible feedback about
consequences of their actions. Lack of
feedback interferes with empathy and leads to
the misperception that no harm has resulted.
Why It Happens:
You Can’t See Me- I Can’t See You

Everybody does it: The perception of invisibility
and lack of tangible feedback support
irresponsible online social norms, including:
◦ “It’s not me, it’s only my persona.”
◦ “What happens online, stays online.”
Anatomy of a Cyberbullying Incident

Profanity

Self-image

Context
Profanity
Profanity and Cyberbullying
Profanity is
processed differently
than other content
 Taboo – words not
supposed to be said
 Arousal – elicit
strong emotions

Processes taboo and high arousal words
Areas of Self-Image
Scholastic competence
 Social acceptance*
 Athletic competence
 Physical appearance*
 Job competence
 Romantic appeal
 Behavioral conduct
 Close friendships*

Inside a Cyberbullying Episode

George at home on the computer and
gets an IM from a classmate.
It says – URA FUKIN IDIOT!! DIE!!!
 Later – DIE WORTHLESS POS!!!


George’s brain goes into overdrive.
Brain Process Profanity & Threat
George’s Possible Responses
A.
B.
C.
D.
E.
Launch counter-offensive with friends
Threaten offending classmate
Ignore it
Report it to parents / school officials
Block classmate from IM
Answer
C
D
E
Answer
A
B
Anonymity of IM

What if George did not know who sent
the repeated IMs?
Unpredictability
+
Lack of Control
=
Depression
Pew Internet: Online Harassment

32% of online teens have experienced one of the
following forms of online harassment:
◦ 15% reported having private material (IM, txt, email)
forwarded without permission
◦ 13% received threatening messages
◦ 13% said someone spread a rumor about them online
◦ 6% had someone post embarrassing picture of them
online without permission

26% of teens have been harassed via their cell
phones either by voice or text
◦ 47% have sent a text message they regretted sending
(Lenhart, 2007 & 2010)
Is this a problem?



25% of girls and 11% of boys had been
cyberbullied at least once.
13% of girls and 9% of boys had cyberbullied
someone else at least once.
Who did the cyberbullying?
◦ student at school (53%)
◦ didn’t know (48%)
◦ friend (37%)
◦ sibling (13%)
Kowalski et al., 2005
Impact of Cyberbullying at School

Impact on classes
◦ Fear of unknown perpetrators
◦ Rapidly spreading gossip
◦ Hostile class environment
Cyberbully Characteristics
Spend more time on the Internet
 Parents are less concerned with their
use of Internet
 More often also victims and bystanders
of cyberbullying
 More often perpetrators of traditional
bullying

European Parliament, 2005
Why Do It?
Simplicity
 For fun
 IDK (I don’t know)
 Get back at someone
 Misery loves company

Cybervictims Characteristics






More intense Internet users
Tend to be content creators
◦ Social networking
Take more risks on the Internet
Have many friends and feel popular
More often perpetrators of and bystanders
to various actions on Internet that may be
offensive
Have a myriad of concurrent psychosocial
problems offline
European Parliament, 2005
Cyberbullying Types - Victims

Impact
◦ Depression
◦ Afraid
◦ Powerless
◦ Suspicious
◦ Frustrated
◦ Angry

Impact
◦ Sad
◦ Affected at Home
◦ Stressful
◦ Self-esteem
◦ Absenteeism
◦ School failure
Impact of cyberbullying mirrors that of offline bullying
Cyberbullying Types – Bully-Victim
Culture of Cyberbullying - perpetrators
of cyberbullying have also experienced
cyberbullying as victims or bystanders
and vice versa. Indication of the
existence of chain reactions in
cyberbullying, whereby perpetrators
become victims and victims become
perpetrators – European Parliament, 2005
 Members of active social groups

Cyberbullying Types - Bystander
Contribute to
cyberbullying by
reading and
forwarding
communications
 Choose to not tell
adults about
incidents
 Perceive schools as
ineffectual

Developmental Implications

Cyberbully, victim, and cyberbully-victim
all associated with poor outcomes in:
◦
◦
◦
◦
◦
Self-esteem
Psychopathology - Depression
Psychosomatic
School achievement
Occupational achievement
Cyberbullying – Gender

Girls
◦ Prefer using IM, chat rooms,
and e-mails
◦ Spend most time online in
above settings
◦ More likely to be cyberbullied
◦ More likely to tell adults about
cyberbullying
 Especially older adolescent girls
Cyberbullying - Gender

Boys
◦ More likely to be bullies and cyberbullies
◦ More likely to make online threats and
build websites targeting others
◦ Less likely to tell adults of cyberbullying
Gender and Cyberbullying
Vocabulary of Cyberbullying
Flaming -- online “fights” using
electronic messages with angry and
vulgar language
 Harassment -- repeatedly sending
offensive, rude, and/or insulting
messages
 Denigration -- sending or posting
cruel gossip or rumors about a person
to damage his or her reputation or
friendships

Mean Girls and
Phenomenon
Mean Girls Inspired
At the speed of light… RUMORS

Antonio received a text message on his
cell. It read, “Monique S d8n Darnell”

Antonio was sure Damon would want
to know Monique was cheating on him.
So he forwarded the text to Damon and
several of his other buddies.

Later that day Damon ambushed
Darnell in the hallway. Both boys were
suspended.
At the speed of light… RUMORS

The rumor ended up not being true
though most of the school had heard
about it in less than an hour through
receiving and forwarding the text to
friends.
Vocabulary of Cyberbullying

Impersonation -- breaking into
someone’s account, posing as that
person and sending messages to make
the person look bad, get that person in
trouble or danger, or damage that
person’s reputation or friendships
Impersonation
BFF or not?
Tonya and Monique are best friends and
they tell everything to one another, even
their passwords to their e-mail accounts.
 One day, Tonya goes to school and
notices everyone is looking at her.
 Her friends don’t let her sit with them at
lunch.
 Tonya doesn’t know what is going on.

BFF or not?
Someone finally tells her that she has been
sending rude e-mails to everyone in
school.
 Tonya is baffled on how this happened.
 After a few days, she finds out that
Monique broke into her e-mail account
and sent the messages because both Tonya
and Monique liked the same boy.

Vocabulary of Cyberbullying

Outing and trickery -- sharing
someone’s secrets or embarrassing
information or images online and/or
tricking someone into revealing secrets
or embarrassing information, which is
then shared online;
Vocabulary of Cyberbullying

Exclusion -- intentionally excluding
someone from an online group, like a
buddy list
Vocabulary of Cyberbullying

Cyberstalking -- repeatedly sending
messages that include threats of harm or
are highly intimidating: and
◦ Engaging in other online activities that make a
person afraid for her or her safety.
Let’s get Piper
Several sixth grade girls became
annoyed with a friends of theirs, Piper.
 They decided to make a cartoon online
they titled “Six Ways to Kill Piper” which
included:

◦
◦
◦
◦
Girls shooting Piper
Making Piper commit suicide
Pushing Piper off a cliff
Poisoning Piper
Let’s get Piper
The video was posted on YouTube
 Piper became afraid to go to school
 Piper’s mother and the school principal
soon found out.
 The girls were suspended

Many of the girls later called and
apologized saying they had not
thought how Piper would react.
Source: Mom Says Online Cartoon Cyberbullies Daughter – KING TV 5-22-09
Contact the Presenter

Dan Florell – Eastern Kentucky University
◦ E-mail: [email protected]
◦ Twitter: schoolpsychtech

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