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Cyberbullying: There is No Escape

A few weeks ago I wrote about Mean Girls, specifically teen girl bullying.  I choose this topic from personal experience, but more so that I would explore research that did not have to do with technology in higher education.  However, I quickly found myself pulling research on bullying online known as cyberbullying.  Due to the potential of 24-hour online interaction, Juvonen and Gross (2008) described it as ‘no escape.’
Bullying in person is destructive enough.  At least when I was young I could get physically away from it.  Now with a phone in your pocket or computer on your lap, harassment can come at young person day or night, after school or even during christmas vacation.  Constant.  From the stories I have read, the question is always: why me? 
Klomek, et al. (2010) defines cyberbullying as “an aggressive intentional act carried out by a group or individual, using electronic forms of contact, repeatedly and overtime against a victim who cannot easily defend him or herself” (p. 282).  This can include anything from pictures and comments, which have roots in harassment and are embarrassing.
Facbook, Twitter, instant messenger, text messages, blogs, emails, forum sites, and more.  Literally any online medium can be a medium for cyberbullying.  Further Juvonen and Gross (2008) found that the most common cyberbullying includes stealing passwords and posting on behalf of that person, as well as, insults and name-calling.
Radliff and Joseph (2011) looked at female cyberbullying, seeing behavior occurring in groups and the experience and consequences may be worse due to constant contact.
The online culture goes even deeper.  Please check out this fascinating video below by PBS about cyberbullying, which also hits upon Trolls, Free Speech and online responsibility.

As a Higher Education professional, I wanted to ensure I understood what cyberbullying looks like on college campuses.  While cyberbullying  has the potential to begin as soon as a child has access to a computer, it can also be found in college.  Through a study by Walker, Sockman, and Koehn (2011) of 10,000 undergraduate students, they found 54% of students knew someone who had been cyberbullied, either by fellow students or teachers.  (That’s right, teachers).
Further, 11% had been personally cyberbullied while at the university and 14% experienced it more than ten times (2011).  The occurrences before college are much more apparent, with one study by Juvonen and Gross (2008) reported 72% students had been bullied once online in the last year.  With statistics this high, it is important to know that,” Students report feeling angry, sad and hurt when cyberbullied.  Poor concentration and low school achievement is also a concern,” (Walker, et al., 2011, p. 37).

Just like in-person bullying, “Cyberbulling has also been tied to low self-esteem, and suicidal ideation, school difficulties, assaultive conduct, substance use, carrying a weapon to school, and traditional bullying offending and victimization,” (Hinduja and Patchin, 2011, p. 71).
In closing, I’d like share a moving video created by a brave young man.  His bullying started in first grade, which became so severe he began cutting himself.  While the video and description does not make mention to his bullying experiences online, statistically those that are bullied in person are three times likely to also be bullied online.  I am proud of him in this moment where he took the online community into his own hands.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdkNn3Ei-Lg
Here are some resources, whether you are being cyberbullied, a parent, teacher or school administrator:
https://www.stopcyberbullying.org/about.html
https://www.stopbullying.gov/
https://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/resources-on-cyber-bullying
https://couros.wikispaces.com/cyberbullying
References
Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J. W.  (2011).  Cyberbullying: a review of legal issues facing educators.  Preventing School Failure, 55(20), 71-78.
Juvonen, J. & Gross, E. F. (2008).  Extending the school grounds? Bullying experiences in cyberspace.  Journal of School Health, 78(9), 496-505.
Klomek, A. B., Sourander, A. & Gould, M. (2010). The association of suicide and bullying in childhood to young adulthood: a review of cross-sectional and longitudinal research findings.  La Revue canadienne de psychiatrie, 55(5), 282-288.
Radliff, K. M. & Joseph, L. M. (2011).  Girls just being girls? Mediating relational aggression and victimization.  Preventing School Failure, 55(3), 171-179.
Walker, C. M., Sockman, B. R. & Koehn, S. (2011).  An exploratory study of cyberbullying with undergraduate university students.  TechTrends, 55(2), 31-38.

About Josie

I’m Dr. Josie Ahlquist—a digital engagement and leadership consultant, researcher, educator, and author. I’m passionate about helping people and organizations find purposeful ways to connect, engage, and tell their unique story. I provide consulting, executive coaching, and training for campuses, companies, and organizations that want to learn how to humanize technology tools and build effective and authentic online communities.

My blog and podcast have been recognized by EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. My book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, was published in 2020 and was listed as a #1 new release for college and university student life. I have been growing my consultancy since 2013 and am based in Los Angeles. When I’m not helping clients lead online, you might find me training for a triathlon, spoiling my nieces and nephews, or exploring with my husband and our rescue dogs in our new RV called Lady Hawk.

I’d love to connect! Find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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