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Is Cyberbullying as Media tell to us?

Is Cyberbullying as Media tell to us?

Discerning Cyberbullying

While all the world is talking about cyberbullying , we need to discern the reality (numbers) from the perception (what we think about). A research by Dan Olweus, PhD, of the University of Bergen, Norway, tells us that Cyberbullying in the USA is less frequent than the Traditional Bullying. In the sample of the research “an average of 18 percent of students said they had been verbally bullied, while about 5 percent said they had been cyberbullied”. While asking the young whether they had been cyberbullied or not may be a weak research tool (we can argue some teens hadn’t the courage to expose themselves), the result is still worth considering. Not only: other analysis showed that 80 percent to 90 percent of cyberbullied students were also exposed to traditional forms of bullying.

Cyberbullying only rarely the sole factor identified in teen suicides.

A research presented on Oct. 20 2012, at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans, shows us a more complex pattern. In 41 suicide cases identified by the research “78 percent of adolescents who committed suicide were bullied both at school and online, and only 17 percent were targeted online only”. There’s also a correlation with mental disease: “A mood disorder was reported in 32 percent of the teens, and #depression symptoms in an additional 15 percent.” These numbers show us that Cyberbullying is just a piece of a huge puzzle.

So Are Cyberbullying and Bullying the same?

They are two pieces of the same pattern, yet they’re not the same. Traditional Bullying ( Schoolyard Bullying) is associated with 3 characteristics:

  • a power differential between bully and victim
  • a proactive targeting of a victim
  • ongoing aggression

and 3 roles:

  • victim
  • bully
  • witness

While in Traditional Bullying these roles are rigid, in Cyberbullying they are more fluid, so that lot of times the same teenager may act all of these roles.

What can we do to fix the problem?

Although Cyberbullying and Bullying are different, they must be treated as parts of the same system. The programs used to prevent Traditional Bullying are useless in Cyberbullying because teenagers don’t equate them: they usually downplay Cyberbullying. We need new tools, maybe 2.0 tools? What do you think about it?

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