, Cyber bullying
) is the term used to refer to bullying and harassment by use of
electronic devices through means of e-mail, instant messaging, text messages,
blogs, mobile phones, pagers, and websites. Other terms for cyberbullying are
electronic bullying, electronic harassment, e-bullying, SMS
bullying, mobile bullying, online bullying, digital
or Internet bullying
It can constitute a computer crime. For example, in the United States it is a
federal crime to anonymously "annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person" via
the internet or telecommunication system, punishable by a fine and/or up to two
Cyberbullying is wilful and involves recurring or repeated harm inflicted
through the medium of electronic text. According to R.B. Standlerbullying
intends to cause emotional distress and has no legitimate purpose to the choice
of communications. Cyberbullying can be as simple as continuing to send e-mail
to someone who has said they want no further contact with the sender.
Cyberbullying may also include threats, sexual remarks, pejorative labels (i.e.,
hate speech). Cyber-bullies may publish personal contact information for their
victims at websites. They may attempt to assume the identity of a victim for the
purpose of publishing material in their name that defames or ridicules them.
Comparison to traditional bullying
Certain characteristics inherent in online technologies increase the
likelihood that they will be exploited for deviant purposes.
Personal computers offer several advantages to individuals inclined to harass
others. First, electronic bullies can remain “virtually” anonymous. Temporary
email accounts and pseudonyms in chat rooms, instant messaging programs, and
other Internet venues can make it very difficult for individuals to determine
the identity of aggressors. Cyber-bullies can hide behind some measure of
anonymity when using the text-message capabilities of a cellular phone or their
personal computer to bully another individual, which perhaps frees them from
normative and social constraints on their behaviour. Further, it seems that
cyber-bullies might be emboldened when using electronic means to carry out their
antagonistic agenda because it takes less energy and courage to express hurtful
comments using a keypad or a keyboard than with one’s voice. Additionally,
cyber-bullies do not have to be larger and stronger than their victims, as had
been the case in traditional bullying. Instead of a victim being several years
younger and/or drastically weaker than his bully, victim and cyber-bully alike
can be just about anyone imaginable.
Second, electronic forums can often lack supervision. While chat hosts
regularly observe the dialog in some chat rooms in an effort to police
conversations and evict offensive individuals, personal messages sent between
users are viewable only by the sender and the recipient, and therefore outside
the regulatory reach of the proper authorities. Furthermore, there are no
individuals to monitor or censor offensive content in electronic mail or text
messages sent via computer or cellular phone. Teenagers often know more about
computers and cellular phones than their parents and are therefore able to
operate the technologies without worry or concern that a probing parent will
discover their experience with bullying (whether as a victim or offender).
In a similar vein, the inseparability of a cellular phone from its owner
makes that person a perpetual target for victimization. Users often need to keep
it turned on for legitimate uses, which provides the opportunity for those with
malicious intentions to engage in persistent unwelcome behaviour such as
harassing telephone calls or threatening and insulting statements via the
cellular phone’s text messaging capabilities. There may truly be “no rest for
the weary” as cyber-bullying penetrates the walls of a home, traditionally a
place where victims could seek refuge.
One possible advantage of cyber-bullying for victims is that they may be able
to avoid it in some circumstances simply by avoiding the site/chat room in
question. Email addresses can be changed and emails can be identified before
they are read (most e-mail accounts now offer services that will automatically
filter out messages from certain senders before they even reach the inbox).
Phones also include caller ID systems which may be able to stop harassing calls
or messages. In the event that this fails, it is possible to change email
addresses and phone numbers, as can identities in chat rooms etc. Unfortunately,
this obviously does not protect against all forms of cyber bullying; publishing
of defamatory material about a person on the internet is extremely difficult to
prevent and once it is posted, millions of people can potentially download it
before it is removed.
Online identity stealth blurs the line in infringement of the right of
would-be victims to identify their perpetrators. See Computer networking tools
as "tracert" or "nslookup" in order to trace an individual's computer to either
their hosts, IP addresses or MAC addresses that are legal, legit and easy to use
tools that allow one person to trace another one's computer.
However toes may help an IP address can only be traced back to its origin and
subnet in this way. The gateway point is part of a large range of IP addresses
that are usually owned by Internet service providers. Directory information
disclosed by such a trace is likely to be Internet Service Provider contact
information. While such information can be useful it is improbable that a single
user by him or herself can locate the offending (remote) computer directly
without some authoritative law enforcement and court order.
While an IP address is usually not traceable users can view other relevant
information by searching on Google of the offending IP and find referenced
information such as forum posts or other reported issues by Administrators.
Users who choose to purchase their own domain names from a registrar such as a
personal website may also be at risk of revealed home/billing personal
information in the lookup unless it is concealed or changed.
Cyber-bullying via blogs
This has become a troublesome phenomenon in the blog world. Readers of blogs
sometimes use vulgar language; racial, homophobic or sexist epithets, or even
threats of violence in comment threads. Even bloggers may use their blogs as
venues for such harassment directed at others. After Kathy Sierra, a web
designer, was threatened by a commenter at a blog, technology entrepreneur Tim
O'Reilly proposed a blogger's code of conduct. He suggested that bloggers more
aggressively police their comment threads to weed out the worst material. His
goal was to encourage the entire blogging community to upgrade the level of
discourse so that no one would feel intimidated by such cyber-bullying.
Many bloggers viewed O'Reilly's efforts as an infringement on the freedom
implicit in internet discourse. Though others feel that there is a greater need
to improve the level of discourse in the blogosphere.
Other forms that blog cyber-bullying can take are the creation of fake blogs
in the name of a victim which purport to be by the victim but which ridicule him
or her. Such sites may use vulgarity, pornography and other forms of
inflammatory discourse in an attempt to shame the victim.
Some blogging platforms have been slow to recognize cyber-bullying as a
problem and provide technical tools to combat such unwanted comments. They have
also often been loathe to take down offending sites such as the ones mentioned
CyberBullying is even possible in interactive online games such as Runescape
and Pokemon Netbattle, although it is usually easier to keep secure.
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Cyber-bullying awareness campaigns in the media
In March 2007, the Advertising Council in the United States, in partnership
with the National Crime Prevention Council, U.S. Department of Justice, and
Crime Prevention Coalition of America, joined to announce the launch of a new
public service advertising PSA campaign designed to educate preteens and teens
about how they can play a role in ending cyberbullying.
Cybebullying was the subject of a forum at the British House of Commons
chaired by Tim Loughton and Louise Burfitt-Dons of Act Against Bullying.
A Pew Internet and American Life survey found that 33% of teens were subject to
some sort of cyberbullying. 
The Youth Internet Safety Survey-2, conducted by the Crimes Against Children
Research Center at the University of New Hampshire in 2005, found that 9% of the
young people in the survey had experienced some form of harassment.
The survey was a nationally representative telephone survey of 1500 youth 10-17
years old. One third reported feeling distressed by the incident. Distress is
more likely for younger youth and those who are the victims or aggressive
harassment (including being telephoned, sent gifts, or visited at home by the
harasser).  Compared to youth
not harassed online, victims are more likely to have social problems. On the
other hand, youth who harass others are more likely to have problems with rule
breaking and aggression. 
Significant overlap is seen -- youth who are harassed are significantly more
likely to also harass others.
Hinduja and Patchin completed a study in the summer of 2005 of approximately
1500 Internet-using adolescents and found that over one-third of youth reported
being victimized online and over 16% of respondents admitted to cyber-bullying
others. While most of the instances of cyber bullying involved relatively minor
behavior (41% were disrespected, 19% were called names), over 12% were
physically threatened and about 5% were scared for their safety. Notably, less
than 15% of victims told an adult about the incident.
Additional research by Hinduja and Patchin
found that online bullying victimization is related to offline problem behaviors.
That is, youth who report being victims of cyber-bullying also experience stress
or strain that is related to offline problem behaviors (an index of 11 deviant
behaviors including: running away from home, cheating on a school test, skipping
school, using alcohol or marijuana, among others). The authors acknowledge that
both of these studies provide only preliminary information about the nature and
consequences of online bullying, due to the methodological challenges associated
with an online survey.
According to a 2005 survey by the National Children's Home charity and Tesco
Mobile of 770 youth between
the ages of 11 and 19, 20% of respondents revealed that they had been bullied
via electronic means. Almost three-quarters (73%) stated that they knew the
bully, while 26% stated that the offender was a stranger. Another interesting
finding was that 10% indicated that another person has taken a picture of them
via a cellular phone camera, consequently making them feel uncomfortable,
embarrassed, or threatened. Many youths are not comfortable telling an authority
figure about their cyber-bullying victimization for fear their access to
technology will be taken from them; while 24% and 14% told a parent or teacher
respectively, 28% did not tell anyone while 41% told a friend.
A survey by the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of
New Hampshire in 2000 found that 6% of the young people in the survey had
experienced some form of harassment including threats and negative rumours and
2% had suffered distressing harassment.
A study by Campbell of Year 8 students in Queensland, Australia found 14% had
been a victim of cyber-bullying, 11% admitted to bullying, while 25% knew
someone who had bullied. Anecdotal evidence suggests that girls are more
involved than boys as they are more likely to communicate regularly.
It has been suggested by the BBC that cyber-bullying may be influenced by
videos that are uploaded to video sharing websites online which contain
offensive content or examples of acts of bullying. Websites that currently do
not filter such videos, such as YouTube and Metacafe, have been asked to take
legal action against videos of people being attacked, harassed or ridiculed, in
order to reduce cyber-bullying as a result of the influence.
Some jurisdictions are currently using the videos posted on YouTube as evidence
in later convictions and as a way of monitoring youth.