Electronic Aggression: Technology and Violence

Electronic Aggression:  Technology and Violence

As noted on my employer’s website:  “Bullying is harassment that sometimes is manifested in the form of discrimination, or hazing.  Bullying can include in-person behavior and cyber activity.   The term bullying is often used for Pre-school and K-12 school age children while harassment is more often used for college students and adults.  To build the connection between these terms, this website directs viewers to policies and programs established to combat harassment regardless of its name.  Bullying toward  . . . anyone . . . (student or employee) is not acceptable.” (Wayne State College, 2013).  The website includes policies for students and employees.  I work as a mental health practitioner with college students.  I often work with students to address the effects of current and past bullying (including cyberbullying).  Although this blog post centers on cyberbullying, the intent and effects are the same. 

(Graphic from stopbullying.gov)

According to the Centers for Disease Control (2013), the definition of bullying, whether via technology or in person, is the “attack or intimidation with the intention to cause fear, distress, or harm; a real or perceived imbalance of power between the bully and the victim, and repeated attacks or intimidation between the same people over time.” Cyberbullying happens via technology (videos, pictures posted or texted, blogs, chat rooms, e-mail, etc.).  The effects of cyberbullying are that victims are at higher risk to “use alcohol and drugs, skip school/work, have lower self-esteem, have more health problems” (Stopbullying.gov, 2013).  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pointed out research in 2012 from Lindfors et al. that “youth who are victimized electronically are also very likely to also be victimized off-line (i.e., sexually harassed, psychological or emotional abuse by a caregiver, witnessing an assault with a weapon, and being raped).”  (2013).

Why is cyberbullying so prevalent? 

(Graphic from stopbullying.gov)

“The administration failed to reinforce policies designed to create a safe school climate. It left students feeling unprotected from unacceptable behavior.” (Nelson, 2013).  Administrators and employers alike might purport that they cannot intervene if they are not aware of the bullying and cyberbullying.  This is where policies and procedures can be helpful, but the having leaders (administrators and managers) in place who are approachable is important as well.  Students and employees know soon enough which administrators and managers will look the other way when trouble is reported. 

What should one do in a cyberbullying situation?  TeensHealth.org (2013) recommends that

  1. Report the abuse and to speak up until someone helps.   
  2. Walk away from the electronic device and take a break. 
  3. Refrain from the desire to strike back electronically.
  4. Document the abuse by keeping a copy of the communications.
  5. Alert your service provider of the cyberbullying.
  6. Block the abuser from contacting you again.
  7. Practice safe online and phone procedures with passwords and be circumspect when posting personal information and photos.
  8. If one witnesses a friend acting as a cyberbully, let him/her know that it is not okay. 

Many institutions of higher education are teaching bystander intervention techniques to college students.  They are in the best position to intervene in cyberbullying situations.  It is a positive way to counteract cyberbullying.  Have you ever benefitted from a peer standing up for you in a bullying or cyberbullying situation?


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. 

          (2013).  Electronic aggression:  Technology and youth violence.  Retrieved from


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  (2013).  Understanding bullying.  Retrieved from


Lindfors et al.: Cyberbullying among Finnish adolescents–a population-based study. BMC

          Public Health 2012 12:1027.

Nelson, M. L.  (2013, September 17).  A personal perspective on cyberbullying.  Retrieved from


Stopbullying.gov.  (2013).  What is cyberbullying?  Retrieved from


TeensHealth (2013).  Cyberbullying.  Retrieved from


Wayne State College.  (2013). Bullying/Harassment.  Retrieved from:     


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13 Responses to Electronic Aggression: Technology and Violence

  1. lybrarylyon says:

    Once again, I am having trouble getting images to post. Please check out the infographic at http://www.stopbullying.gov/image-gallery/what-you-need-to-know-infographic.html for helpful depictions of what you need to know about bullying to better plan your leadership strategy on addressing this issue in the workplace.

  2. thewhitebored says:

    Do you think bullying is actually more prevalent today or just discussed more often? I don’t remember discussing bullying in school. Last semester, I asked a group of college students what they thought about the increased amount of bullying education. The older, non-traditional students didn’t think that bullying was actually more common, but that students and schools were being more sensitive about the issue, something they thought was making their own kids less adaptable and less “tough skinned.” The younger students didn’t seem to have a strong opinion about the issue. I am sure the internet, as an additional source of communication, has increased the amount of bullying that occurs. Online communication might make bullies out of those who wouldn’t normally have the confidence to say mean or discriminatory comments in person. Do you think this increased discussion of bullying is promoting a society that can’t take disappointment? A recent article in Huffington Post discussed the generation of helpless kids who want instant gratification and cry when they don’t get good grades or a winning trophy. This generation, according to the article, is surrounded by parents who will fight battles and do homework for their kids in order to preserve their kids from failure, defeat, and disappointment. The article cites research indicating this issue is leading to increased amounts of depression and quarter-life crisis in this generation as they graduate from college and realize the world isn’t going to give them everything they want. Interestingly, the article also quickly mentioned an organization called Growing Leaders, who is seeking to turn kids and young adults into leaders who can handle the world outside school-sheltered, or parent-sheltered, environments (my words, not theirs).



    • lybrarylyon says:

      I think that bullying is just as common as it used to be, but more ways exist to bully people than in previous times. Bullying is about power and control. Those who have knowledge or strength target those who do not in order to feel powerful. Some parents and teachers utilize the bully approach when working with their children, their students, or peers. I favor working with others by expressing empathy and having them learn early on when it is more affordable that their actions lead to future benefits or consequences. I learned this from my employment at Boys Town and the work of Foster Cline and Jim Fay at Love and Logic (http://www.loveandlogic.com/).

  3. Denise Butts says:

    Technology has not been without its pitfalls. Social media continues to be a popular vehicle for minors to exercise cyber bullying. While K-12 schools have a role in combating cyber bullying, the ultimate responsibility belongs to parents. Schools cannot be the guardian of everything in society. Parents buy these electronic devices for their kids. Consequently, stronger legislation should be enacted to ensure greater parental monitoring and supervision. If a minor breaks the window of a neighbor then the guardian is financially responsible. Somehow that concept has a slippery slope when it comes to the usage of technological devices. And, this has led to the pervasive violation of the rights of others.

    Yet, cyber bulling is a reflection of societal norms. You may have heard of the Miami Dolphin football team scandal where one player (Jonathan Martin) accused another teammate (Richie Incognito) of bullying. Reports showed that Incognito forwarded Jonathan text messages and voice mail using aggressive and racially tinged language. Ironically, teammates rallied around Incognito and minimized Martin’s allegations. For me, that speaks volumes. What do we expect of our children when the adults behaviors are similar? I believe that many employees experience workplace bullying, but choose to suffer in silence to avoid potential embarrassment, fallout and isolation by others.

    Do you think cyber bulling is more common in the United States than other countries? Perhaps there is a correlation between the type of government and rate of cyber bulling by adults and minors. Personally speaking, many youngsters believe that the first amendment protects their writings and comments on social media. However, I often remind students and parents that there is no absolute right to freedom of speech in schools or in the workplace.


  4. moirawalsh says:

    I agree that bullying takes different forms now, but there is too much residue from cyber bullying to cast it off at just something that has always been around, but in different forms. There have been a rash of suicides (http://www.irishcentral.com/news/Parents-believe-Irish-teenager-was-bullied-to-death-over-her-red-hair-233920211.html) resulting from a combination of onsite and online bullying, which is reprehensible. I think that censorship is permissible when it comes to life-and-death issues.

  5. arizona126 says:

    Your post and comments made me reflect on how easy it is for anyone to remain anonymous online and how that anonymity, with all of its benefits, can also embolden bullies to say things they would not likely say in-person. Any of us can create a new email address and facebook account under a false identity within minutes and then use these tools to harass or comment to other individuals online. As a supporter and proponent of internet freedom, I believe technology creates great opportunity for us to communicate, network, and share; however, any place where individuals gather will also attract those will ill-intentions or good people who exercise poor judgment in their interactions with others. Your suggestions on addressing cyber-bullying are an excellent set of actions. I believe it starts with parents, students, and teachers all having a strong awareness of cyber-bullying and its effect.

  6. jvap2013 says:

    I appreciated your including the list of recommended tactics to address cyberbullying. In my opinion, they should be required reading for students, faculty and staff at all schools.

    The stories earlier this year about the suicide of Rebecca Sedwick in Florida following cyberbullying by two of her classmates was terrible. While authorities have arrested the two students and charged them with aggravated stalking, there is little that can be done given that they are minors with no prior arrest records. Regardless, nothing can be done to bring back Rebecca.

    Interestingly, another story on cyberbullying portrayed the use of social media in a more positive light. In this story, the mother of a bullying victim used Facebook to shed some light on this growing problem. As a result, her daughter received much needed support from both the community and her school district.

    As this story suggests, technology may not be the villain. We should be concentrating our efforts on the bullies – not on their tools.


    Imam, J. (September 19, 2013). Boy asks Santa to make kids stop bullying his sister. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/16/us/bullying-santa-letter-ireport/index.html

  7. I thought this presentation was interesting – http://www.uwlax.edu/conted/suicideprevention/handouts/2013SuicideHandoutJeffReilandBullyingAndSuicide.pdf

    It noted that “Conveying that bullying alone causes suicide at best minimizes, and at worst ignores, the other factors that may contribute to death by suicide. This neglect may result in too narrow a focus of preventive action.”

    It suggests:

    • Strengthening social connectedness to relationships: parents, other adults, school, and friends
    • Ensuring access to supportive adults 
    • Supportive home and school environments where young people feel connected 

    • lybrarylyon says:

      Reiland’s presentation was comprehensive and I agree with his suggestions. In most cases I suspect that the people who suicide are in situations that developed over time and thus it will take time, effort, and support to change the situation.

  8. millervr says:

    Your comments and the comments made about the Martin/Incognito story caused me to reflect on my days in the military. In the Marines, it’s not referred to as bullying, it’s the ‘code’. Just as many of Incognito’s teammates stood behind him, I witnessed the same. Sometimes, those perceived to be weaker were preyed upon by the bullies. A common saying was ‘don’t hide behind your rank’. This refers to individuals who bully because they have a hirer rank in the military. It’s amazing to see how brave people become when they hold the power. It’s the same here with the internet and social media. People now have the power to engage you and others 24/7 with little to no boundaries.

  9. swaggin94 says:

    Hi everyone. All this talk on bullying reminds of this video of a boy in Philadelphia where I live. Take a look. The bullies were caught by a smartphone. I think Friedman (2007) would be happy that the flat world is doing some good! What do you think? Regards, Peter aka swaggin94


    Friedman, T. L. (2007). The world is flat (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Picador.

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