- April 14, 2020
Cyberbullying refers to the act of using electronic technology with theintention of causing harm or harassing an individual in a manner thatis recurrent. By dint of the development and the widespread usage ofcommunication technology, and thanks to the rapid technologicaladvancement, the number of cases that are linked to cyber bullyingactivities among teenagers tends to be on the rise. Even with theemergence of high profile cases that have been attributed to cyberbullying, all hope is not lost with the fight against the vice. Courtcases and anti-cyber bullying forums have been held, and they preacha similar message of offering protection to vulnerable minors whomight find themselves entangled as victims of cyber bullying.Awareness programs and legislations have been incepted to address theconsequences that amount from cyber bullying. In the absence of keystakeholders’ cooperation, stringent enforceable measures, andadequate research activities that function to combat theunderpinnings of cyber bullying, then the adverse cases associatedwith the vice, among minors will continue to be on the rise.
Understandingthe genesis a problem is critical in the quest for identifying alasting solution to curb the said problem. The origin of cyberbullying dates from over two decades ago. According to ABC-CLIO(2006a), the cyber bullying began when the scene for public access toWorld Wide Web was set in 1991. Less than five years after thecommencement of general usage of World Wide Web, a help programdubbed the “CyberAngels” which was founded by the GuardianAngels, whose mission was to offer assistance to victims of cyberstalking was incepted (ABC-CLIO, 2006a). The term “Cyber addiction”was coined by the American Psychological Association in 1997. TheAssociation referred to the addiction as being a characteristic ofpeople with low self-esteem, inadequacy feelings and those who arefrequently disapproved by others, which are features of cyber bullies(ABC-CLIO, 2006a). They related the above characteristics to those ofa cyber-bully. Another platform dubbed I-Safe was endorsed by theCongress in 1998 to offer services to the youth concerning safeinternet usage. Court cases against cyber bullying began quite a longwhile ago. Suits related to cyber bullying emerged from as far as theyear 1999. In 1999, a court ruling that was held in the case of Davisvs. Monroe County Board of Education identifiedthat school boards were liable if as a result of student-studentsexual harassment, a student was noted function poorly (ABC-CLIO,2006a).
Provocationof the personalities and physical attributes of vulnerable victims ofcyber bullying has been linked to detrimental effects like thepromotion of suicide missions. The years after 2000 revealed that theprovocation cases were on the rise. Some of the harassed studentssuffered from tainted images, or some ended up committing suicide,with the examples of Meagan Meier, who at thirteen, committed suicidein 2006 (ABC-LIO, 2006a). Other underage children who lost theirlives to suicide because of being cyber bullied included: Jesse Loganin 2008 and Tyler Clementi in 2010 (ABC-LIO, 2006a). Multiple courtcases some of which were followed by appeals were present in the newmillennium with historic ones being noted in 2011. In the casebetween Mardisv. Hannibal Public School District,the ruling was made against a student who sent life threateningmessages to another. More rules and legislations were further maderegarding cyber bullying (ABC-CLIO, 2006a). In 2012, North CarolinaState, cyber bullying against teachers or other school staff becameprohibited, and in 2013, the governor California banned “revengeporn” (ABC-CLIO, 2006a). The number of cyber bullying victimstripled in 2014 compared to 2013 (ABC-CLIO, 2006a). A law thatallowed the involvement of law enforcement officials in cyberbullying cases was put in place in 2015 with further arrests made inthe same year concerning the usage of the Yik Yak app, in a racialcentered cyber bullying (ABC-CLIO, 2006a). The timeline informationis important because it broadens the scope of understanding on theevolution of cyber bullying and how much of a problem the misdemeanoris to the society today given the fact that cases attributed to theiniquity tripled in 2014 showing that course for action is mandatory.
TheInternet Protection Act
Thedevelopment of legislations that function to protect minors againstharmful web content is a step closer to curbing the negativerepercussions of cyber bullying instances. The Child’s InternetProtection Act (CIPA) of 1998 and the Child Online Protection Act(COPA) are the examples of legislations that have been developed tofacilitate internet protection (Schwabach, 2006). CIPA offersrequirements for the control of access from certain computers wherelibraries and schools that receive federally subsidized internet likeE-Rate or discount programs for schools and libraries, are allowed toinstall software that fosters filtering or blocking of certain sites,facilitates protection to the minors (Schwabach, 2006). COPA on theother hand functions to provide some form of control of certaininformation done by certain people (Schwabach, 2006).Monitoringthe activities of the minors, once they access internet sites is whatthe schools and libraries are expected to do and as a result, offerprotection against cases of harmful content, child pornography orobscene (Schwabach, 2006). The Neighborhood Child Internet Protectionis a functionality of CIPA, which also functions to cultivateprotection for minors, requires the adoption of policies by librariesand schools. The policies address the access to web matters that are‘inappropriate’ and which as a result, compromise on the safetyof the aforementioned minors (Schwabach, 2006). The internet contentcan be deemed as inappropriate by stakeholders like libraries, theboard of the schools or other local agencies (Schwabach, 2006). CIPAhas however been challenged in the past by the proponents of theFirst Amendment Act where in this case, the American Civil LibertiesUnion and the American Library Association claimed that the Act wasan infringement of the rights of the First Amendment(Schwabach,2006). The reasons for CIPA adoption in libraries was also used bythe plaintiffs to state that it was a poor use of spending power. TheSupreme Court, however, ruled in favor of CIPA, where it wasestablished that the enforcement of CIPA by libraries was notunconstitutional (Schwabach, 2006). The ruling identified thatlibraries acted within their jurisdiction of reviewing the contentthat they incorporate in their collections. The information on cyberprotection legislations is critical for the identification of thestrides that the federal government has made regarding its commitmentto offer protection to minors against harmful web matter.CyberSecurity Enhancement Act
Thefederal government has further beefed up its fight againstcyber-crime by the use of stricter regulations and legislations thatabet national security against threats. The Cyber SecurityEnhancement Act of 2002 was signed into law by President Bush as ameans of promoting the security of the nation since the 9/11terrorist attacks (ABC-CLIO, 2002). The identification of thesentencing guidelines is noted in the article by ABC-CLIO (2002), onthe Act. The strict rules that are notable in the Act are aimed atdeterring cybercrime activities by offering punishments when theyoccur (ABC-CLIO, 2002). The Act further makes the identification ofwhether a cyber-crime was either accidental or intentional and therepercussions therein. A good example is a rule that when aperpetrator intentionally attempts to cause death to anotherindividual, he/she is liable to a pay penalty or may faceimprisonment for any term, or may incur both consequences (ABC-CLIO,2002). Studying the CSE is necessary for acknowledging the place ofthe federal government in fostering national security against cyberthreats and terrorists.
DeletingPredators On-line Act
Themandate of protecting minors against the adverse effects of harmfulweb content does not rest only on the federal government and otherstate institutions that function per the law parents have a criticalrole to play as well. Parents have to play their part well inprotecting minors from the negative usage of the internet given therising cases of social media usage (ABC-CLIO, 2016). The usage of theweb by the teenagers supersedes that of the adults thus showing howappealing social networking sites are to the younger generation.Parents often assume that the internet has positive impacts on theirchildren, and so most of them shun the fact that the internet couldhave devastating effects on their children (ABC-CLIO, 2016). In asurvey conducted by Angela Lambert, the identification that was madewas that younger users as compared to the older ones, found theinternet to be rather appealing (ABC-CLIO, 2016). Studies by ABC-CLIO(2016) revealed that most young users use social media sites toconnect with other people as well as sharing content with others(ABC-CLIO, 2016). Available statistics showed that the percentage ofteenagers who use emails is 89% while 75% use instant messaging tools(ABC-CLIO, 2016). Surveys further revealed that online teens have atone point added to the content that is available on the internet, andthat new online tools serve the purpose of the determination of theiridentities (ABC-CLIO, 2016).
Teenagersmust learn that excessive usage of social networking sites can bedetrimental as far as infringement of privacy is concerned. Some ofthe teenagers are not mindful of the information that they dish outto the social networking sites. 62% of the teens would not want theirparents to see what they post online the teenagers are increasingtheir susceptibility to online predators (ABC-CLIO, 2016). The factthat teenagers air their concerns regarding how online predators areon the loose ready to devour them because of the private content thatthey upload, they still noted that social media was important to them(ABC-CLIO, 2016). Parents and teenagers are aware of the pros andcons of the internet, and the fact that some parents have gone anotch higher to protect their children shows that more awareness isyet to be done on the tools that aid in the making of the rightdecisions when using the internet.
Thesocial life of teenagers is adversely affected by some of the contentthat is available online. Part of the content that is noted to affectteenagers is cyber bashing whose usage is considered to be veryappealing. Cyber bashing is the recording of fights which is furtheruploaded to the internet and used as a form of entertainment. Cyberbashing is believed to trace its roots from Europe in 2003, preciselyin Britain, and the vice further extended to the US in 2005(ABC-CLIO, 2006b). In the ruthless activity, teenagers use theirphones to take films of fights which are further modified by theincorporation of soundtracks to make them rather entertaining. Thevideos are later on uploaded by the teenagers in sites like photobucket, YouTube or MySpace (ABC-CLIO, 2006b). Some policies have beendeveloped by sites like the PSFights.com whose role being to combatthe usage of popular social media sites for portraying excessiveviolent activities and harassments that are administered to otherpeople, by carrying out evaluations of cyber bashing clips (ABC-CLIO,2006b).
Negativeweb content is now being used for selfish reasons by the teenagerswho are in search of gaining a celebrity status. The most unfortunatebit is that most of the teenagers find the violent clips to be bothcomical and entertaining and as a result, a majority of them use suchsites to prove their popularity over their peers, thus showing thatthey are inciters of bullying activities (ABC-CLIO, 2006b). Thegrowing number of teenagers who view cyber bashing videos as a meansfor enjoyment shows that there is a pressing need for quick actiongiven that most teenagers tend to copy the content that they seeonline. The implications for inciting cyber bashing activities arethat violent actions will end up being promoted to the youngergeneration in the broader society. The fact that arrests linked tocyber bashing have been made in the past, shows that the fightagainst the vice is a step closer to saving the community fromcyber-based violent acts. It is, therefore, clear that more stringentaction must be taken in combating cyber bashing by the use ofevidence-based material that is drawn from online researchactivities.
Cyberand traditional bullying as risk factors for mental health andsuicide missions
Themost critical adverse effect that is linked to cyber bullying is thedevelopment of suicidal thoughts and mental health problems on thepart of the victims. A two-year study conducted by Bannink et al.,(2014) sought to find the evidence that linked both traditional andcyber bullying to suicidal ideation or the development of mentalproblems. The study by Bannink et al., (2014) revealed that differentgenders are affected differently by the victimization of traditionaland cyber bullying. In boys, both traditional and cyber bullyinginstances were not associated with mental health problems when mentalhealth was used as the baseline (Bannink et al., 2014). In girls,both cases of bullying were linked to mental disorders (Bannink etal., 2014). The study revealed that there lacked a significantinteraction between suicidal ideation and both genders in as far astraditional and cyber bullying was concerned. The findings in thestudy identified that as opposed to cyber bullying which could beprevented by blocking the bullying messages from a perpetrator,traditional bullying could not (Bannink et al., 2014).
Attendingto cyber bullying has to be done in haste given that children whohave been subjects of victimization may succumb to mental disordersas they age. Studies have revealed the truthfulness of the importanceof combating bullying given that such like activities have thepotency of developing psychiatric disorders in a victimizedindividual upon his/her transition into adulthood (Bannink et al.,2014). Reducing bullying behavior will, therefore, function toinhibit the onset of mental health problems thus the integrity ofmental health of the individuals in the society will be protected.
Inthe bid to offer a solution to the rising cases of cyber bullyingactivities, the root of the vice must be studied and thus addressed.Otherwise, the disturbing truth is that when only the ‘symptoms’of the vice are addressed, a ‘mundane violent world` will exist. Ameta-analysis study that was conducted by Barlett and Coyne (2014)sought to identify the interaction between sex and age in cyberbullying behaviors. It is apparent from the evidence that is existenton research in cyber bullying that a majority of the studies arebiased to addressing the adverse effects that are administered to thecyber bullying victims. The research was, therefore, a shift from thenorm of addressing victimization of the susceptible individuals, andwas instead involved with studying aggression as an underlying factorof cyber bullying activities.
Whenit came to physical aggression, examining the role of the sexdifferences in the trait was imperative. Studies have revealed thetruthfulness of the fact that males had the potential of engaging inphysically aggressive activities as opposed to the females (Barlettand Coyne, 2014). Other forms of aggression reveal that girls had thepotency of engaging in such like aggression as compared to the males.Indirect and relational aggression, for instance, is likely to bepropelled by the females in the form of gossip. However, evidenceinto this kind of aggression is not reliable enough. Mixed resultsare however available regarding the area of sex differences andaggressive behavior.
Apartfrom sex differences, age is also a critical moderator of cyberbullying behavior. The study by Barlett and Coyne (2014) reveals thatwhen looking at the developmental perspective of children, they tendto portray physical aggression when they are young. In this stage,the children are deficient of the capability to display verbalaggression that would cause harm to other children. However, withage, verbal aggression is modified and becomes prevalent in thechildren, with the reduction of physical aggression activities(Barlett and Coyne, 2014). Relational aggression also develops withage and becomes rather complicated with maturity as individuals learnmanipulating tactics. Cyber bullying activities also advance with ageas people interact with technology and therefore the activity becomesrather prominent in late childhood and early adolescence (Barlett andCoyne, 2014).
Whencyber bullying is viewed as being a product of aggression that isrelational, it shows that females would indulge in the vice more. Onthe other hand, if the iniquity is viewed as being a product ofdirect aggression, males become more likely to partake in theactivity. The fact that males in their late adolescence are believedto be advanced in technology confirms that they had the potential ofengaging in cyber bullying as opposed to the females. The study byBarlett and Coyne, (2014) identified that overall males had thepotency for engaging in cyber bullying compared to girls. In thedevelopmental perspective, females were favorites of partaking incyber bullying given that they mature rather faster compared to themales. However, as the boys catch up with the girls in maturation,they tend to engage in cyber bullying activities more than the girls.
Cyberbullying is a serious plague in the society and so addressing theunderpinnings that are related to it has to be resolved very fastbefore more damage that is undone, in the society is done. Theresults that have been presented in the study by Barlett and Coyne,(2014) reveal the role that age and sex moderators play in thepromotion of the cyber blemish. In the search to identify the bestsolution to combat cyber bullying, more research has to be done todetermine the real variables that promote the frequency of cyberbullying activities. With the evidence that will be garnered fromresearch activities, theories can be identified, and as a result,interventions to combat both cyber and traditional bullyingactivities can be determined.
Withthe absence of research, key stakeholders cooperation and enforceablelegislations that function to thwart cyber bullying and its adverseeffects, victimization cases of minors will continue to be on therise. The findings presented above have revealed that cyber bullyinghas been linked to suicidal ideation and mental health problems whichare among the worst case scenarios of the cyber flaw in minors mostimportantly. These problems end up advancing into adulthood which isinjurious to an individual’s mental health. The study findings haverevealed that some of the underlying factors behind cyber bullyingare age and sex differences among the perpetrators. An interventionthat addresses the above underpinnings is critical to solving thecyber bullying cases that tend to be deeply rooted in thetechnologically savvy society that defines the 21stcentury. The federal government has extended effort in tacklingcyber-crimes with the inception of legislations that are aimed atprotecting minors from harmful web content. The development oflegislations like the CIPA, COPA, and CSE function to foster nationalsecurity against cyber-related crimes and these legislations alsooffer the guidelines in case of misdemeanors that are non-compliantwith the provisions that they state. The fight for protecting minorsusing legislations and regulations has not been a smooth one giventhe wrangles has been present especially with the proponents of theFirst Amendment Act. Multiple suits have been erected where theplaintiffs have argued because Cyber Protection Acts inhibit freedomof speech. However, amid the suits that have been presented againstcyber protection, the Supreme Court has ruled in the favor for theprotection of minors. The meaning of such like occurrences indicatesthat the fight for cyber protection is more than over. What isclearly brought out is that more is yet to be done in the enhancementof cyber security. Inputs from key stakeholders like parents, civilsocieties, learning institutions, social media websites, and thefederal government has to be felt in fostering cyber protection andwhose consequence would be the reduction of cyber bullyingactivities. More research has to be conducted in the hunt to addressthe cyber bullying evil, and as a result, the findings will identifyinterventions that treat the root of the problem, rather than thesymptoms that emerge.
ABC-CLIO.(2002). Cyber Security Enhancement Act (2002). Retrieved November 11,2016, from ABC-CLIO Web site:https://issues.abc-clio.com/Search/Display/1141781
ABC-CLIO.(2006a). CyberBullying: Timeline. Retrieved November 11, 2016, from ABC-CLIO:https://issues.abc-clio.com/Search/Display/1075543
ABC-CLIO.(2006b). CyberBashing. RetrievedNovember 11, 2016, from ABC-CLIO:https://issues.abc-clio.com/Search/Display/1262854
ABC-CLIO.(2016). Amanda Lenhart`s testimony on the deleting on-line predatorsAct of 2006. Retrieved November 11, 2016, from ABC-CLIO Web site:https://issues.abc-clio.com/Search/Display/1141779
Banninket al., R. (2014). Cyber and Traditional Bullying Victimization as aRisk Factor for Mental Health Problems and Suicidal Ideation inAdolescents. PLSOne, 9 (4),1-7.
Barlett,C., & Coyne, S. M. (2014). A Meta‐Analysisof Sex Differences in Cyber‐BullyingBehavior: The Moderating Role of Age. AggressiveBehavior, 40,474-488.
Schwabach,A. (2006). Children`sInternet Protection Act. ABC-CLIO.Retrieved November 11, 2016, from ABC-CLIO Web site:https://issues.abc-clio.com/Search/Display/1541311