"Cyberbullying" is when a child, tween, or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, tween, teen, or person using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies, or mobile phones. It is instigated by one minor against another minor; once adults become involved, it is cyberstalking or cyberharassment. Adult cyberharassment or cyberstalking is not called cyberbullying unless the bully was disguising him or herself as a teenager (see example below).
The methods used are limited only by the person's imagination and access to technology. The cyberbully one moment may become the victim the next, as kids often change roles going from victim to bully and back again. This is of grave concern because reports indicate that children have killed each other and committed suicide after having been involved in a cyberbullying incident.
Cyberbullying is usually not a one time communication, unless it involves a death threat or a credible threat of serious bodily harm. Kids usually know it when they see it, while parents may be more worried about the lewd language used by the kids than the hurtful effect of rude and embarrassing posts.
Cyberbullying may arise to the level of a misdemeanor cyberharassment charge, or if the child is young enough may result in the charge of juvenile delinquency. Most of the time the cyberbullying does not go that far, although parents often try and pursue criminal charges. It typically can result in a child losing their ISP or IM accounts as a terms of service violation. In some cases, if hacking or identity theft is involved, it can be a serious criminal matter under state and federal law.
Historical perspective: Even though cyberbullying is associated with teens and children, adults engage in it too. Known as the "MySpace suicide" in May of 2008, a Missouri woman was accused of creating a fraudulent MySpace account (saying she was a 16-year-old boy) and using it to cyberbully a 13-year-old girl who later committed suicide (a former friend of one of her daughters). Read the full article here. In this instance, a federal grand jury in Los Angeles invoked a criminal statute more commonly used to go after computer hackers. The girl, Megan Meier, has become the poster child for cyberbullying, much like 9-year-old Amber Hagerman of the Amber Alert missing child program in the United States.
In 2014, research found that children and young adults who are bullied are more than twice as likely to consider suicide and two and a half times as likely to try to kill themselves, and the study concluded that those taunted online are even more vulnerable. The findings are based on more than 40 studies, involving more than 284,000 young people ages 9 to 21, that examined the relationship between bullying and suicidal thoughts or attempts. Previous studies have found that traditional bullying and cyberbullying—by email, text messages, or videos—are equally likely to provoke suicidal thoughts in victims. But the new study found that kids subjected to cyberbullying are about three times more likely than their peers to have suicidal thoughts. “This may be because victims of cyberbullying feel denigrated before a wider audience, or because the event is stored on the Internet, they may relive denigrating experiences more often,” study leader Mitch van Geel of Leiden University in the Netherlands tells LiveScience.com. At this time, an estimated 15 to 20 percent of adolescents are involved in bullying—as the perpetrator, the victim, or both.
NetLingo Classification: Online Jargon