Cyberbullying among youngsters: profiles of bullies and victims

 From New Media & Society

News stories about youngsters who have used the internet or their mobile phone to harass or insult classmates have become common in recent years. Both governments and academia have responded rather rapidly in trying to get a hold on the phenomenon. This study surveys 2052 primary and secondary school children and reveals that cyberbullying among youngsters  via the internet or mobile phone is not a marginal problem.

Bullying is the power imbalance between bully and victim. In the case of traditional bullying, this power imbalance is often based on physical strength. In cyberspace since people cannot impress others with their physical appearance, power in the online world may be facilitated by the bully having superior technological knowledge. In addition, the ability of the bully to keep his or her identity unknown, as an anonymous faceless tormentor is a unique method of asserting dominance online that conventional bullying does not allow.

The article considers the profile of cyberbullies and victims of cyberbullying, and suggests counter-measures concluding that parental involvement is crucial. Respondents whose parents are less involved with their internet use have a higher chance of becoming a cyberbully. Informing parents about new media and encouraging them to be involved with their child’s internet use seems to be a logical step in the prevention of cyberbullying.

 

Abstract

A survey among 2052 primary and secondary school children reveals that cyberbullying among youngsters is not a marginal problem. However, there are discrepancies between the prevalence figures based on direct measurement versus indirect measurement of cyberbullying. Youngsters who have bullied someone via the internet or mobile phone during the last three months are younger, and are more often victims and bystanders of bullying via the internet or mobile phone, and are more often the perpetrators of traditional bullying. Youngsters who have been bullied via the internet or mobile phone during the last three months are more dependent upon the internet, feel less popular, take more internet-related risks, are more often a bystander and perpetrator of internet and mobile phone bullying, and are less often a perpetrator and more often a victim of traditional bullying. The implications for future research into cyberbullying and for cyberbullying prevention strategies are discussed.

 

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Article details
Vandebosch, H., & Van Cleemput, K. (2009). Cyberbullying among youngsters: profiles of bullies and victims New Media & Society, 11 (8), 1349-1371 DOI: 10.1177/1461444809341263

     
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