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Social Problem of Bullying and the Solutions

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Society
Wordcount: 2416 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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Cyberbullying and bullying have been receiving a great deal of media attention, especially in extreme cases that resulted in the victim committing suicide. Previous cases, and my current research proves that this is a national issue. There are a lack of laws defining what acts constitute as bullying and a lack of written consequences one will endure when they bully. My research implies that as time progresses and technology increases cyberbullying will only worsen if a national and drastic change is not made. This kind of misuse of the Internet will give the Internet a bad name, but in reality it has great potential if used correctly. It is the job of school officials and state lawmakers to have consequences for cyberbullying and bullying written out and explained.

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Cyberbullying has been a recent social problem. This is due to the recent criminal and civil lawsuits. Some of these cases were brought to authoritarian attention when bullies were recorded in new media technologies, such as the smartphone or videos posted on Youtube. Some researchers claim that as technology increases more problems will arise between students, therefore causing greater opportunities for bullying to take place. The rules within schools regarding bullying are not as direct as some may believe. Bullying has always been an aspect of schooling and growing up, but universally, schools should make stronger policies and consequences towards bullying in general and cyberbullying in particular. If people continue to misuse the Internet, it will cause great affects on how people communicate and trust one another. Internet misuse will also mold a bad image and reputation for the Internet as a whole. This paper will focus specifically on cyberbullying in regards to communication theories such as computer-mediated communication, the face theory and agenda-setting. Based on my research I will provide methods that are proven to prevent cyberbullying in and out of schools. 

What truly is bullying? It is first best to define the different forms of bullying and to portray what separates them from one another. Bullying is defined in several ways, with many different terms and aspects used in each definition. According to the article, Bully/Victim Problems in School, one of the most common definitions in research is, “Bullying is usually defined as aggression that is intentionally carried out by one or more individuals and repeatedly targeted towards a person who cannot easily defend him-or-herself” (Olweus, 1997, p. 182).

Olweus also defines two crucial factors to differentiate between aggression and bullying, because the two are sometimes confused. He defines aggression as a single act that can occur between two persons of equal power; it is not intentional. In bullying, he defines it as an intentional repeated act where there is an imbalance of power. He also defines cyberbullying as, “An aggressive intentional act carried out by a group or individuals, using electronic forms of contact repeatedly and over time against a victim who cannot easily defend him or herself” (Olweus, 1997, p. 187).

Technically speaking, there is really no universal definition of cyberbullying. Often times, researchers do not find themselves agreeing on one common definition. This could be because as time progresses so does the technology. In the 2007 journal, Does Online Harassment Constitute Bullying? Janice Wolak suggests that repeated acts of online aggression are usually to the extent of online harassment, not bullying. She also argued that these negative online interactions could be terminated, stating that the victim is in the position of power, seeing that they would not have to be face-to-face with the bully. There are instances of online victimization that cannot be easily terminated, such as removing some information from the Internet (Wolak, 2007, p.53). While Wolak believes that the victim is in the position of power, other research finds that online bullying is just as bad and sometimes worse than face-to-face bullying.

There are also a variety of aspects that are contained in these definitions, which are extremely important to understand. One of the main aspects that separate bullying from aggression is repetition. Olweus argues that repetition is necessary for bullying to be defined as so. This excludes acts of aggression towards different people at different times. Although, he states, “Multiple acts of aggression by a single person towards numerous individuals may be considered bullying. Repetitive use of aggressive behavior towards a person can be used to instill fear and therefore psychological harm to the victim” (Olweus, 1997, p. 498).

Who really cares about the issue of cyberbullying and all it entails? The youth and technology of today are our future. If we do not address the issue of cyberbullying and teach children and students to use the Internet responsibly, the consequences will suffer greatly in the future. Trust and loyalty will be a thing of the past and Internet users will be using the Internet for all the wrong reasons. A victim of cyberbullying states, “I still feel scared and like I can’t trust people like they’re going to turn on me… it is very hard for me to make friends to this day even though it was over five years ago (Healey, 2011, p. 20). The Internet is a great tool, if we recognize it as a privilege and decide to use it responsibly.

The internet is a very useful tool, however people- especially teenagers- have to make sure they are using it with care. People have come to love the Internet and what it has to offer, especially when we focus on social networking sites. Millions of people use social networking sites as part of their daily routine and often times it becomes a habit. People will wake up in the morning and the first thing they’ll do is check their Twitter or Facebook. These sites have been so popular because people can communicate with friends and family from the comfort of their own home. We love seeing what other people are up to, who is dating who, etc. People use social networking sites as a free advertisement for their businesses. While there are a lot of positive aspects to the social networking sites there are also negative aspects which I will explore (Lusten, 2011, p. 6-7).

There are also many federal laws and policies that implement incentives for school districts to address student safety, such as doing so through, “No Child Left Behind”. The federal government may also provide funding for research and demonstration programs that address school violence. Such as the public awareness campaign, “Take a Stand, Lend a Hand. Stop Bullying Now” that specifically addresses bullying. “15 states have passed laws addressing bullying, and many state legislatures are considering such legislation (e.g., Michigan, Nebraska and Pennsylvania)” (Limber & Small, 2003 p.446) These laws are very recent, most have gone into effect since 2001, and they are said to have been motivated by the many tragic shootings in several U.S. high schools in the late 1990’s. (Vossekuil et al., 2002, p. 22) Not all of the state legislation that are aimed at reducing school violence has proven effective, and whether the state laws can provide a useful vehicle for reducing these bullying behaviors among school age children is still unanswered.

Everyone’s personal views on cyberbullying differ. Bullying is something that occurs in every high school, consciously or not.  Many people believe that bullying is a result of home issues– or that bullies tend to come from families that are considered to be dysfunctional. Although my agreement with this is slight, I mostly believe that if a student is a bully, it is because of an issue that occurred between them and the victim. I hardly believe a bully would select their victim at random, thus choosing someone who has done nothing to deserve it. However, when the bullying does occur, it often times get extremely out of hand. I was not consciously exposed to any type of bullying until I entered middle school. I believe that when my parents’ generation were youth, bullying definitely transpired, but not nearly as much as it does in the present. The reason I think that bullying is such a big affair in current day is undoubtedly because of the technology and telecommunications making it possible for people to be harassed virtually.

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In many extreme cases, cyberbullying can unfortunately lead to suicide. One devastating case of this is the Phoebe Prince case. On January 14, 2010 15-year old Phoebe Prince hanged herself. Her younger sister found her body in the family’s apartment. Prince’s bullying-related suicide was one of the first cases, which initiated a national anti-bully movement. Prince had recently moved from County Clare, Ireland to South Hadley, Massachusetts. Prince immigrated to the United States in fall of 2009 with her mother and four siblings. Phoebe began a relationship with then 18-year old Sean Mulveyhill, which angered his ex-girlfriend Kayla Narey. Even though Prince and Mulveyhill broke up, Narey and her friends bullied and harassed Prince in person and online (Gerdes, 2012, p. 7).

Prince was being harassed on her Facebook, in text messages and at school. The students referred to her as an “Irish whore” and “Irish slut” (Gerdes, 2012, p. 7). Whether or not students should face criminal charges for the online harassment is still undecided. cyberbullying expert Justin Patchin states, “The vast of majority of cyberbullying incidents can and should be handled informally: with parents, schools and others working together to address the problem before it rises to the level of violation of criminal law” (Gerdes, 2012, p. 10). Legal experts state that cyberbullying which results in suicide is not a matter for the law because other factors are likely present when a person commits suicide such as problems at home, clinical depression, drug and alcohol abuse and feeling isolated or without friends. While there are those who oppose making cyberbullying a crime, others believe that it should be made a crime stating, “Suicide is the third leading cause of death for fifteen to twenty-four year olds. In a 2009 study, as many as 14 percent of United States high school students claimed to have considered suicide” (Gerdes, 2012, p. 9). Those against cyberbullying believe that because it is so prevalent, than it should definitely be taken to criminal status.

        In July 2010, Prince’s parents filed a complaint against South Hadley Public School District against discrimination. When the bullying occurred, school officials were informed about the discrimination, but took no action. In November 2010, the family reached an agreement and withdrew the complaint, but the amount of the settlement was not revealed (Gerdes, 2012, p. 12).

It has also been proven that cyberbullying is more so a problem with females than it is with males. Boys are more likely to bully in person, but girls are more likely to bully online. Sheri Bauman, the director of school counseling program at University of Arizona, states that bullying and cyberbullying are both about power, in the virtual world, “Students attempt to gain social status through cyberbullying… gaining social status often means tearing someone else down and boys and girls often do that differently” (Gerdes, 2012, p. 45).

So what can we do to prevent cyberbullying? Although there have been policies made by federal and state laws along with policies in school districts, many of these policies have not been successful. Only 15 states have laws regarding bullying. It is extremely difficult to create laws against cyberbullying because of the complexity of technology today. People are more aware of bullying and its effects because there is more broadcast placing it in the spotlight. More needs to be done to reduce bullying and understand how prevalent it really is. Teenage girls are are easily affected by bullying and cyberbullying because the media has a great amount of emphasis on the way girls look. Girls are more concerned with how they look to others, and do not realize the serious implications involved in putting their information online. If specific consequences are not placed in each school’s code of conduct, students and people in authority positions will not take the matter seriously. No more suicides should occur for a change to be made.


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