For most youth, the Internet is all about socializing, and while most of these social interactions are positive, increasing numbers of kids are using the technology to intimidate and harass others – a phenomenon known as cyberbullying.
Verbal or emotional abuse is the most prevalent form of bullying online. Social bullying, another pervasive form – particularly with girls – includes social exclusion and spreading gossip and rumours.
It’s important to note that there is no single profile of a child who bullies. While some fit the traditional image of someone who is generally aggressive and has poor impulse control, others may be very sensitive to social nuances and are able to use that understanding against their targets.
Cyberbullying is everyone’s business and the best response is a pro-active or preventative one. From the outset, we can reduce the risks associated with internet use if we engage in an open discussion with our children about their online activities and set up rules that will grow along with them. Cyberbullying is strongly connected with moral disengagement – the ways we can fool ourselves into thinking it’s all right to do something we know is wrong or to not do something we know is right – so activating kids’ empathy and moral judgment is a key aspect of preventing it.
It’s only recently that research has paid attention to the role of witnesses in bullying scenarios, and few studies focus specifically on witnesses. What research has been done has shown that witnesses can be just as important as targets or perpetrators in determining how a bullying scenario plays out and that witness
Cyberbullying can be addressed under civil law or criminal law, based on the situation.
These posters are freely available to print and hang in your schools, in libraries, or community centres.