Monday, August 1, 2011

Cyberbullies and Their Methods

Bullies have been around longer than schoolyards themselves. While bullying is not new, the technology and methods some are using today, are.

What is cyberbullying?

It is when a child, preteen or teenager is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teenager using internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. These include interactive gaming, instant messaging, text and video text messaging. Adults are never called cyberbullies. Once an adult is involved it is classified differently and legally it is handled differently.

Methods that cyberbullies use are really limitless. It is only the bully's own imagination and access to technology that sets their boundaries. Another interesting statistic shows that often, cyber bullies change the role that they play. They can go from being a victim to a bully and back again.

Generally, there are two types of cyberbullying. The first is direct attacks. This is when a child, preteen or teen directly sends messages, pictures and the like via the technology available to them. The second type is cyberbullying by proxy. This involves using others to bully the target. The accomplice's in this type of bullying may not even be aware of what is actually happening. This type of bullying is particularly dangerous when adults get involved.

Methods Used by cyberbullies

What are some methods that cyberbullies use? Here are a few examples:

    A common form of cyberbullying is in the form of text or IM messages. This method can be as simple as sending rude, hurtful texts to the victim themselves or spreading rumors or hateful messages to others about the victim. Another way texting is used by these bullies is they send numerous texts to their victim and run up the cell phone bill. This makes for angry parents. IM is used at times in a similar way to cell phone texting. Other uses also include impersonating the victim by using a similar name. The bully will then say things the victim wouldn't to their friends and family. This can be hurtful and damage relationships.

    Stealing passwords is used as another form of harassment. By doing this a bully can hack a computer, change the profile of the victim- including race, age, sex etc., lock victim's out of their accounts and chat with others using the victim's name.

    Blogs, or on-line journals can be used to damage one's reputation. Along with that, internet polling has gained popularity and can be equally damaging. Others can comment and give opinions about the victim. In internet polling questions about who's this and who's that as voted by their peers is seeing an increase.

    Sending e-mails, as with texting is a common form of harassment as well. It is popular for cyberbullies to send explicit photos (these can be taken in locker rooms, bathrooms and other private locations) to countless others. The internet is seeing an increase in the number of these types of videos posted. Other ways e-mail is used is by sending spyware, viruses and hacking programs. Cyberbullies can use these to gain access to the victim's computer or wipe it clean by erasing files and the like.

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