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
- Report the abuse and to speak up until someone helps.
- Walk away from the electronic device and take a break.
- Refrain from the desire to strike back electronically.
- Document the abuse by keeping a copy of the communications.
- Alert your service provider of the cyberbullying.
- Block the abuser from contacting you again.
- Practice safe online and phone procedures with passwords and be circumspect when posting personal information and photos.
- 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: