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Teachers notes Cyberbullying 20–31 Cyberbullying is the act of bullying a target using technology such as mobile phones or the internet as a vehicle. In the ‘real world’ there are generally physical boundaries where the bullying stops; for example at home or in the classroom (with the teacher present). However, cyberspace knows no boundaries and a target has no reprieve or safe haven from his or her tormentor. Cyberbullying includes repeated attacks, threats, defamation or harassment designed to cause distress to the chosen target. The bully or group of bullies may use mobile phone messages or pictures; internet social sites or blogs; or email to render the torment. They may stage the same attack over and over or vary the delivery. It may be organised by one bully and carried out by several others or it may be organised and carried out by the same person.

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Cyberspace provides the bully with a sense of anonymity which they can’t possibly have in the ‘real world’. It allows them to take the bullying to another level beyond what is possible at school or other ‘traditional bullying hotspots’. It also provides the target with a hard copy of the event(s) which they are then able to read and reread many times over—causing much deeper harm. Traditional bullying may be observed by a few people or a large group of ten or more. However, technology allows the bullying to be witnessed (and carried on) by a far greater audience—adding to the target’s humiliation. This form of bullying can also be continued over a longer period and total strangers can ‘join in’. Almost like a ripple in a pond, it can grow and grow. Every time someone forwards a text message or email, that person helps the bully to continue his or her campaign against the target. Fortunately, this technology also provides a level of security that can not be found in real life. It is education and an understanding of the technology which will provide a safe and secure environment. Individuals have the ability to lock their profile, blog or webpage—allowing only selected friends access to their information, while specific callers can be blocked from a mobile phone contact list.

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Individuals also need to be aware of the information they share with others. It is up to the individual to carefully consider the sharing of photographs, information and personal events. By taking simple precautions, individuals can take charge and reduce the risk of becoming an online target.

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The ‘upside’ of cyberbullying is that it does provide a hard copy which can be saved and used as evidence against the bully. The target must be educated to save and keep all documentation and share it with the appropriate authorities (school, parent, law enforcement officers) to have the matter dealt with. Criminal legislation is now available to pursue any specific behaviours involving such technology to cause harm to another person.

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Types of cyberbullying

Cyberstalking occurs when an individual repeatedly sends threatening messages via the internet or a mobile phone. The messages instil the fear that the stalking might move offline and become physical.

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Flaming involves sending correspondence using chat rooms, email and instant messenger. Flaming refers to arguments to which images are often added to emphasise a point. It includes harsh language.

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Exclusion occurs when an individual is singled out and excluded from a group. The group then taunts the excluded person using the internet or mobile phones.

Outing occurs when an individual publicly shares personal communications involving another person using online communication methods or a mobile phone. That individual is then ‘outed’ when his/her private information is broadcast publicly, either online or offline.

Masquerading is a form of cyberbullying in which an individual creates a false identity and harasses another while pretending to be someone else. Masquerading includes attempts to steal log-in information, then using that information in a harassing manner, such as sharing it publicly. Impersonation is pretending to be someone else and sending or posting material online to make the impersonated person look bad, get him/her in trouble or danger, or cause damage to that person’s reputation or friendships. Harassment is the act of repeatedly sending offensive, rude or insulting messages. Denigration is the act of ridiculing someone online. It involves sending or posting cruel gossip or rumours about a person to damage his or her reputation or friendships. vi

Bullying in a cyber world – R.I.C. Publications®

Bullying in a Cyber World: Ages 6-8  
Bullying in a Cyber World: Ages 6-8  

The blackline masters cover the following: What is bullying?, Forms of bullying, Cyberbullying, Targets of bullying, Effects of bullying, Wh...