What Is the Difference Between Cyberbullying and Bullying?
There are a few aspects of cyberbullying that differentiate it from traditional bullying. Which make it a unique concern for parents and teachers. The following qualities can help answer the question “What is the difference between cyberbullying and bullying?”:
While victims usually know who their bully is, online bullies may be able to hide their identities. The anonymity of the internet can lead to crueler or harsher abuses from the bully, all while the victim has no means of discovering who his or her harasser is.
Bullying typically ends once the victim removed from the negative social situation. However, smartphones, laptops, and other devices have made it possible for people to communicate with each other at all hours and from nearly any location. Cyberbullies may be able to torment their victim 24 hours per day, seven days per week, making it difficult for the victim to escape it by going home or even changing schools.
With traditional bullying, often only people who interact with those involved will know of the abuse. However, when content posted or shared online, it is possible that anyone may see it. This opens up the victim to more potential ridicule or pain from strangers. This compounded the anonymity afforded by virtual spaces; while bullying in person may done covertly or out of view to avoid punishment, cyberbullies need not fear witnessed in the act if their identities not known.
Because online content is impossible to delete entirely, cyberbullying may damage the victim’s, or possibly the bully’s, reputation permanently. Even if the content removed or deleted from the original site, someone may find it posted from screengrabs elsewhere later. This may negatively impact future employment, college admissions, or relationships for victims and bullies alike.
Easy to Overlook:
Cyberbullying may be harder for teachers, administrators, and parents to discover because they may not have access to students’ online activities. They may not be able to overhear or see the abuse taking place. Unless someone comes forward, parents and teachers may never know that bullying is taking place.
The difference between cyberbullying and bullying is clear, but cyberbullying is still bullying, and the consequences and dangers remain the same, if not increased in their severity and duration. Even though it occurs online instead of in person, cyberbullying needs to be taken as seriously as traditional bullying.
So exactly what is cyberbullying? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “cyberbullying” was first used in 1998 and is defined as “the electronic posting of mean-spirited messages about a person (such as a student) often done anonymously.” But as time has gone on and the internet has evolved, so has the definition of cyberbullying.
StopBullying.gov defines cyberbullying as “bullying that takes place over digital devices like cellphones, computers, and tablets,” whereas the Cyberbullying Research Center describes it as the “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cellphones, and other electronic devices.” Essentially, it is the use of electronic communication to mirror the way a person would be bullied in real life, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.
All 50 states have anti-bullying laws in place. Most states also have laws meant to prevent cyberbullying. Some states have additional policies to help guide schools and their district’s response to bullying.
Familiarize yourself with the laws and policies in your state. You can find more information at the Cyberbullying Research Centre or StopBullying.gov.
There may also be local laws at the regional, county, or city level. If nothing else, most school districts or school codes of conduct contain anti-bullying language or rules. Be sure to research the various policies and laws at the local level in your area.
Why Children Do Not Discuss It
Many teenagers hide the fact that they being bullied, online or in person, from their parents, teachers, and other adults in their life.
Do not take it personally if your teen does not tell you about bulling. It is an intense, confusing experience that everyone responds to differently, and there are many reasons they may choose not to talk about it with anyone.
They may feel embarrassed or ashamed, worry that their online privileges will be taken away, or simply not know what cyberbullying is. They may fear that the bully will retaliate or the abuse will intensify if they speak up, or they may just want to figure out how to handle this situation on their own.