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Cyber-bullying is something that has become a new social phenomenon in today’s society. It can often times leave students unable to escape their bullies and leave them feeling alone and helpless. Faucher, Jackson, and Cassidy (2014) performed a study on 1925 students across four Canadian universities that found 24.1 percent of students had been the victims of cyber-bullying over the last twelve months. These shocking numbers show that nearly one in every four people have been the victims of this phenomenon. This statistic is interesting however because when compared to studies that were done amongst younger age students you see that the numbers are drastically different. Wegge, Vandebosch, and Eggermont (2014) found that among 1,458, 13-14 year old students that considerably less students reported being cyberbullied. This is very similar to what Vanderbosch and Van Cleemput (2009) found among 2052 students in the 12-18 ranges which concluded that 11.1 percent of students had been victims of cyber-bullying. This research concludes that cyber-bullying appears to be more prevalent in students as they get older. Wegge et al. (2014) also noted that 30.8 percent had been victims of traditional bullying.
This raises the question as to why it seems to be less prevalent among younger students. Is it possible that they simply don’t have as much access to the tools of cyber-bullying that students at the university level have, or they possibly aren’t as technologically savvy as their older peers? It continues to raise questions about the issue of cyber-bullying as well as what classifies the perpetrators as well as what are their reasons for harming others.
An important factor when analyzing cyber-bullying is trying to understand the types of people who are the aggressors. The first thing that needs to be discussed when analyzing this is the simple matter of gender when it comes to who is generally the aggressor. Slonje and Smith (2008) found that when it comes to cyber-bullying males are more often than not the aggressors with males being reported as the cyber-bully far more often than females. Slonje et al (2008) also found that 36.2 percent of students were unaware of the gender of their aggressors. This is intriguing because for one it’s is the same percentage as the number of males who bullied, but most importantly because it shows that over 1 in 3 students don’t actually know who is bullying them, which adds to the fear and stigma that is related to cyber-bullying and not being able to escape the perpetrators.
Researchers have also conducted various studies on the types of people who are cyber-bullied, or what is often referred to as “cybervictomology”. Abeele et al. (2013) conducted a study, which concluded that the gender of victims varied greatly depending on the form of cyber-bullying. Abeele et al. (2013) found that males are more likely to be on the receiving end of direct cyber-bullying while females are more likely to be the victims of indirect cyber-bullying such as online gossip among peers. These findings appear to remain true to social norms where males are viewed as more confrontational and females are often stereotyped as gossipers.
While not many studies look at the gender of the victims many studies do research things such as the characteristics of the victims. Faucher et al. (2014) found that there were numerous reasons that people felt they were the victims of cyber-bullying such as their personal appearance, interpersonal problems, as well as simply having discrepancies about their views. Davis, Randall, Ambrose, and Orand (2015) also conducted a study about victims and their demographics which looked at the reasons people were cyber-bullied. Some of the results in the Davis et al. (2015) study addressed other reasons for being bullied in which they found that 14 percent of victims had been bullied because of factors such as their sexual orientation.
These are all very important because it fits the profile of the traditional bully that many people envision but it shows that it transfers over into the cyber world as well. This leads on further questions about the relationship between the two and how the cyber-bullying is influencing where and how the harassment is continuing.
The relationship between aggressor and victim is also something that has been heavily research among professionals. Beran and Li (2007) conducted a study that involved 432 middle school students and concluded that just under half of the students had been victims of cyber-bullying as well as traditional bullying. This is true across multiple studies. Wegge et al. (2014) also concluded that people who were bullied in traditional manners had a much higher likelihood to become victims of cyber-bullying as well. Another interesting relationship between bully and victim is that studies have also shown that people who are victims are likely to become aggressors in the online world; “students who are bullied through technology are likely to us technology to bully others” (Beran & Li, 2007, p. 24). Faucher et al. (2014) also found similar results claiming that male and female students decided to bully people online because they were bullied first.
Research has also been done that looks at how the bullies find their victims. Wegge et al. (2014) studied the perpetrators preferences in victims and found that 27 percent were in the same grade, 14.2 percent were in different grades and a staggering 49.6 percent were not schoolmates of the bullies. This evidence somewhat contradicts that of the other studies that state victims are generally bullied at school and at home because it shows that nearly half of the bullies prefer to bully people they don’t go to school with and possibly do not know at all. This continues to build and add to the idea of cyber-bullying in that it allows bullies to create their own personas and images in order to try and intimidate and influence others without actually providing a physical intimidation factor.
The first part of this literature review focused on the demographics of the bullies and their victims, but now we will focus on the lasting effects and the trauma it brings to the victims as well as the different forms of cyber-bullying. While the platforms used are different, the lasting effects that the bullying has on the victims are very similar. Faucher et al. (2014) concluded that one of the main effects that cyber-bullies had on university students was that they were unable to accomplish some of their school assignments. While many people think that depression or low self esteem are the only effects of cyber-bullying, this study brought to light a much different and a more unexpected issue. Beran et al. (2007) also found similar responses from victims of cyber-bullying claiming that they often didn’t achieve the same grades in school and had lower concentration. These findings indicate that the lasting impact that a cyber-bully has on their victims is often more harmful than what most people can see on the surface.
Pieschl, Porsch, Kahl, and Klockenbusch (2013) found that cybervictims generally were less distressed during a second confrontation with a cyber-bully. This interesting finding indicates that victims of cyber-bullies may actually become desensitized to the aggression over time lessening the effects of the bullying.gs such as the characteristics of the victims. Faucher et al. (2014) found that there were numerous reasons that people felt they were the victims of cyber-bullying such as their personal appearance, interpersonal problems, as well as simply having discrepancies about their views. Davis, Randall, Ambrose, and Orand (2015) also conducted a study about victims and their demographics which looked at the reasons people were cyber-bullied. Some of the results in the Davis et al. (2015) study addressed other reasons for being bullied in which they found that 14 percent of victims had been bullied because of factors such as their sexual orientation.
These are all very important because it fits the profile of the traditional bully that many people envision but it shows that it tr