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‘Cyberbullying is the fault of the victim’: to what extent do you agree on this claim?
Cyberbullying is a relatively new concept which emerged with the development of information technology, and now it is considered a worldwide epidemic. Since then, the number of published articles has been growing, and researchers have made the efforts to separate cyberbullying form traditional type of bullying. However, since criteria of cyberbullying are still under discussion, it makes difficult to define the term. Beuman Sheri, the professor of the University of Arisona, has distinguished cyberbullying from conventional bullying by indicating the following five features: 1. bullies could be anonymous; 2. audience would be unlimited; 3. bullies could observe prompt actions of targets; 4. power balance would be unequal; 5. it would not be hindered by time and location (Bauman, S). In this essay, cyberbullying is understood to mean harmful activities which are deliberately conducted on the internet by a group or individuals. This paper attempts to show that victims of cyberbullying should not be blamed based on their own social activities. It would be justified from three perspectives of the social development: online activities may contribute to empowerment of minorities; it could show the clear stance against online bullies; the legislative action could be taken by the government.
It is important to consider that certain number of cyberbullying were committed because targets belonged to a minority group; moreover, even if evading bullying is possible, posing extra burden to victims contains the potential risks for infringing the human rights. Regardless of being exposed to a worldwide criticism or being bullied in a closed community, attack on the internet toward the person’s views or activities indicates that the target was a minority in each society. A research, which is conducted in 2018 in purpose of correlating the minority status and mental health, shows that minority adolescent, especially lesbian, gay, bisexual (LGB) high school students are more likely to be targeted to online bullying. Compared to the bullied rate of the heterosexual students of 14%, 28% of sexual minority students have become the victim of cyberbullying (Duarte). Joy Peluchette, a professor of Lindenwood University, highlights the risks for not using privacy settings for individuals’ account and sharing personal information to public (Peluchette). Her article shows that the profile owners have a choice to consider whether they open the SNS account to public or not. The critical problem in this discussion is that it implies that victimization of cyberbullying is the responsibility of each person. In other words, it might be said that it is discouraging individuals to raise their voice to change the current situation. Although, in some cases of cyberbullying, the victims might have ‘violated’ a social taboo by their activities, it should not be blamed by others. For instance, Shiori Ito, who is a Japanese journalist and recognized as a symbol of ‘#Metoo’ movement in Japan, had severely suffered by cyberbullying. ‘#Metoo’ movement is a series of actions to help survivours of sexual violence, and Shiori has spoken out in public for her experience of being raped, which was subsequently considered to be insufficient in evidence. Continuing fierce online criticism and threatening made her evacuate Japan and sought refuge in London in order to protect her own life. In this case, it is apparent that her first movement caused the following expected cyberbullying in the conservative country. However, considering the fact that her action was to raise the voice of the victim of rape, her action should be welcomed for the future prevention of gender-based violence, instead of compelling her to bear the responsibility. Thus, from the aspect of minorities, victims of cyberbullying should not be blamed based on their own practices.
- Bauman, Sheri. “Cyberbullying in a Rural Intermediate School: An Exploratory Study.” The Journal of Early Adolescence 30.6 (2010): 803-33. Web.
- Duarte, Cassandra, Sarah Pittman, K. Thorsen, Margaret Cunningham, and M. Ranney. “Correlation of Minority Status, Cyberbullying, and Mental Health: A Cross-Sectional Study of 1031 Adolescents.” Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma 11.1 (2018): 39-48. Web.
- Peluchette, Karl, Wood, and Williams. “Cyberbullying Victimization: Do Victims’ Personality and Risky Social Network Behaviors Contribute to the Problem?” Computers in Human Behavior 52 (2015): 424-35. Web.
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