Cyber-Bullying & Cyber-Stalking

Bullying has unfortunately been part of youth culture for a long time. More recently, however, the reach of bullying has expanded as technology has improved.This form of bullying is commonly called cyber-bullying.

Cyber-BullyingAs more young people have access to cell phones, e-notebooks, and computers, it is not uncommon for a child, preteen, or teen to be tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by peers through the Internet, digital technologies, and/or mobile phones. Though cyber-bullying only happens between minor children and youth, it has become a serious problem in our society. Children have been been injured, killed, or committed suicide as the result of cyber-bullying.

Cyber-bullying includes:

  • Sending mean or offensive messages through email, text messages, chat room posts, or social networking sites.
  • Humiliating people through technology. For example, posting false accusations online.
  • Creating a website designed to humiliate or embarrass someone else.
  • Sending an anonymous message to a someone’s email, social networking site, or cell phone.
  • Sharing personal and/or embarrassing information or images electronically.
  • Videotaping or photographing someone being beat up or hurt and then posting it to the Internet.
  • Sending threats that you’re going to harm someone or encouraging someone to harm themselves.

It can lead to the following experiences for the victim(s):

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • School Phobia (being afraid to go to school)
  • Social anxiety
  • Not wanting to talk anyone or share anything
  • Not wanting to leave the house
  • Thoughts of and/or attempts at suicide
When  bullies are confronted about cyber-bullying, they often say “I was only kidding.” But kids have committed suicide due to cyber-bullying. So why do people still do it?
 

Cyber-bullies engage in this behavior because:

  • No one can see what they are doing
  • They don’t have to deal with the victim’s real-life reaction
  • “Everyone does it, so it’s no big deal.”
  • In some cases, they lack empathy and don’t care what happens to the victim.
  • They think no one can know who they are. They believe they can stay anonymous.

Anonymity is perhaps the number one reason bullies choose to act through technology. They should realize, however, that their anonymity isn’t real. Any time a person goes online, they leave a cyber footprint. These cyber footprints can be traced. When the bullying gets bad enough, these cyber footprints can be traced by law enforcement or the school. People who bully through text messages can easily be traced via phone numbers. Social media web sites can also trace messages, even when the cyber-bully uses a different screen name or sends messages anonymously.

Cyber-StalkingCyber-bullying

Cyber-stalking is different from cyber-bullying. It is online stalking, using the Internet to follow and/or harass a person, group, or organization. Cyber-stalking can involve people of any age. It includes:

  • Constant IM’s, texting, emails, or calling
  • Breaking into someone’s browsing or message history
  • Committing identity theft
  • Destroying another person’s data.
  • Posting lewd or malicious notes on message boards or discussion groups using a victim’s personal information.
  • Hacking into a victim’s online email, social media, or banking accounts.
  • Impersonating the victim by creating false accounts on social networking or dating sites.

The harassment can take many forms, but the common theme is that the behavior is unwanted, often obsessive, and sometimes illegal. In addition to causing psychological damage, cyber-stalking can lead to a physical assault or worse.

Just because cyber-stalking doesn’t involve direct physical contact doesn’t mean it is any less dangerous than “real life” stalking. It is not difficult for an experienced Internet user to find enough of the victim’s personal information, such as their phone number or place of business, to establish his or her physical location.

Note: Our intention is to provide the above information as a guide to understanding domestic violence in context. Because every situation is different, and the spectrum of domestic violence is broad, not all of these examples or theories apply to everyone.