According to a Daily Mail article, cyber bullying has increased over the years across many educational institutions in the UK, many educators are still not able to identify why. Between 2016 and 2017, the number of cyber bullying events in the UK has increased by 37%.
What is cyber bullying?
Cyber bullying is when a person uses the Internet to harass, harm or ridicule other individuals. Nowadays, cyber bullying is a prosecutable offence in some countries.
Why has cyber bullying become so prevalent?
With digital and technological development, bullies can use different types of digital channels including social media or SMS to victimise people anonymously, resulting in an increase in instances of cyber bullying.
Often, there isn’t a particular reason behind the choice of cyber bullying, but many people do it for revenge or because of jealousy. Other individuals bully to boost their egos, to get attention or because they are dealing withtheir own conflicts.
What are the effects of cyber bullying?
Bullying causes strong emotional and physical distress. In fact, victims of cyber bullying experience anxiety, fear, depression and low self-esteem. Bullying might also affect the victim’s private life along with having a negative impact on their academic performance.
Below are common feelings experienced by victims of cyber bullying:
- Feeling powerless – Victims of cyber bullying usually don’t feel safe as bullies can invade their private life and home through a computer or mobile phone at any time of the day. The victim might feel there is no way to escape and can feel that bullies are everywhere. Furthermore, their anonymity usually provokes a feeling of fear in the victim.
- Feeling exposed and humiliated – Cyber bullying happens online meaning that bullies’ messages and posts are exposed to thousands of people and can be shared infinite times. This can lead to an intense feeling of humiliation.
- Low self-esteem – Cyber bullies attack the victim’s weaknesses so that they will start doubting their values, decreasing their self-esteem.
- Feeling alone – When cyber bullying happens, the victims are usually excluded by friends and can have difficulties socialising. This way, they feel lonely and isolated – feelings that can lead to depression.
How can schools fight and prevent cyber bullying?
It’s important that schools invest in resources to prevent and fight any type of bullying. There are different things institutions can do in order to prevent cyber bullying including encouraging tolerance, respect and conflict resolution among students; promoting a safe environment where feelings can be discussed; enhancing the importance of online respect and responsibility, and promoting digital citizenships lessons on a daily basis. Finally, institutions should create communities that reward kindness and compassion, and that don’t just consider academic achievements.
Due to digital and technological development, cyber bullying is becoming a major problem among students who are victimised anonymously through digital channels. It’s fundamental institutions invest in resources to fight against this problem as it might lead to serious mental health conditions.