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An English terms „cyberbullying“ stands for cybernetic bullying, cyberbullying or computer bullying. The general description is an aggressive use of electronic information sources and communication technology (e-mail, instant messaging, SMS, mobile phones, pagers, slanderous web sites) to bully, humiliate or torment both individuals and groups by personal attacks.
Basic forms of cyberbullying are sending annoying, humiliating and aggressive messages through various communication technologies. Creating blogs that humiliate and mock a particular individual is concerned cyberbullying too. Other examples are also physical attack being recorded, intentional provocation connected with recording this upset person, attacking people on forums, revealing somebody else’s privacy (passwords, history on ICQ, e-mails, etc.), identity theft and its abuse, intrusion, stalking, defamation and blackmailing using communication technologies (the Internet, phones, social sites, etc.).
The main danger of cyberbullying lies in deepening and prolonging of traditional forms of bullying. The normal form of bullying lasts a few minutes even though its victims are traumatized for a long time. On the other hand, cyberbullying is constant; humiliating videos may remain on the Internet even several months. The most frequent published videos are those with scenes degrading the victim. Wide ranges of people, usually also neighbourhood, come to know about suffering of an individual. Making numerous insensitive remarks and other humiliating comments do their job as well. Thus, frustration from this experience is doubled and such pressure may be sometimes unbearable for teenage self-confidence. You can find real stories about cyberbullying and its consequences in the article Cyberbullying in practise.
Rapid spreading of cyberbullying has several reasons. The main reason is anonymity of cyberspace that seemingly provides a guarantee of culprit’s impunity. To trace the author of an even erased contribution isn’t a problem for the police. When adolescent culprits were judged for bullying of young Anna from Poland, it was just their own recording that convicted them. They were traced even though they erased the video from the Internet immediately after Anna had committed a suicide. Yet anonymity adds strength, courage to acts which a person in real life dares. Cyberspace offers a new identity, it doesn’t make any difference between physically weak, unattractive or those who are socially expelled, it doesn’t check who is who in reality. Even an unpopular person may easily identify with any interest group and he or she tries to be recognized and admired there. The Internet offers an easy way how to ventilate hidden aggression. By a combination of all these factors, the Internet thus gives rise to egoistic, ruthless and aggressive behaviour. It is a question of time when an individual switches from passive entertainment over violent videos to making his or her own recordings. Only thanks to excitement, both ordinary and ignored individuals may become the part of a strong group and they may easily become those who bully others. It is just sense of power, impunity and superiority over the others that is a basis of all evil.
According to a respectable study Pew Internet & American Life, every third American adolescent experienced Internet bothering. They have been struggling this problem in the Great Britain for a longer period of time but young Britons have made up a new form of entertainment. They are waiting for the unsuspecting victim, with cameras or mobile phones prepared, to attack him or her. Attacks are characterized by unprecedented malice, which is driven by the desire to get the most aggressive and "amazing" video. The victim is chosen from both random and familiar people and the attack is initiated by a group all on purpose and unexpectedly from behind. This new teenage entertainment is called “happy slapping” in Britain. Such a group publishes this video on the Internet as a next great catch. There have been killed several people thanks to this perverted entertainment in Britain, where “happy slapping” is spread the most. If you want to learn more about happy slapping, read the Happy Slapping part.
The main features of cyberbullying are releasing videos and pictures on web sites. This infamous phenomenon has four basic forms:
- An aggressor attacks the personal web of a victim by inserting slanderous and rude comments. A persistent individual may cause that the victim removes comments entirely.
- The one who bullies creates his or her own blog to publish abusive materials to humiliate the victim.
- The most malicious form of cyberbullying is creation of so called fictional blogs that look like the victim has created it. People thus think that the author of texts, pictures, videos and other materials (that shouldn’t be published) is the victim. For example, if the site purposely created includes your name and at the same time also child pornography, racist or defamatory texts, intimacy of friends, etc., it will be difficult to persuade others that you aren’t the creator but the victim.
- The last form of cyberbullying is a combination of previous points. The aggressor hacks the victim‘s web site and changes the content to harm the victim. The victim can erase those contributions but the others may not recognize who inserted what materials. The skilled and persistent attacker may force the victim to remove blog entirely.
Cyberbullying is spread mainly among school children but it touches also adults, especially those who work in educational spheres. Everyday, teachers have to face attacks and their authority, patience and psychical endurance are tested. If students knock their teacher off balance, the best thing to do is to make a record and publish it on a social site. The Facebook group called expressively „One half of the class is sleeping, the second half is making drawings and the teacher is talking to a blackboard“ has been erased. This group was supported by some 170 000 fans during a month. What was so popular about this group? Mainly, people published there humiliating pictures and videos of both students and teachers and fans of this group made comments and notes about selected victims. To degrade teacher’s authority is very easy and tempting in cyberspace. One of the cases when a teacher becomes a victim of bullying and cyberbullying happened in France near Paris. A student, Abdoulah Welle, threw a chair on his teacher during the class and then he attacked her physically and punched her. Aggressive behaviour was caused by a comment of the teacher and Abdoulah himself grounded the action that she simply annoyed him. Another student, Massire Touré, will be punished too for not lending help to a person in risk and for breaking the right for privacy. He recorded the whole incident on his mobile phone and during the fight, he was around for the greatest place to shoot.
Cyberbullying grows in strength among adolescents and moreover, it is a field that older generation doesn’t understand too much and thus they cannot estimate its strength and effect on a young person. When fighting cyberbullying, it is important to keep in mind (as well as when fighting usual form of bullying) mainly prevention and public education right with children. Parents, schools and teachers have to take their responsibility as well. Nebuď oběť, a civic association don’t want to be running late – it focuses its activity on suppressing of cyberbullying and other dangers connected to virtual world. If you want to learn more how to prevent cyberbullying, go to a relevant part in our web site.