Cyber Bullying

Introduction

Bullying is defined as a process that includes the possession of a power differential, the intent to inflict harm and acts of repeated harm. According to Sharbaro and Enyeart (2011), there are three main types of bullying which are physical bullying like hitting, kicking and pushing; verbal bullying like calling names and relational or social bullying like spreading rumors.

Review of literature

Existence of bullying

For long, bullying experiences have been very common in schools and had been considered a part of the normal childhood. During that time, many children were either victims of or participated in bullying, and there was nothing to be done about it. The increased number of bullying and violence incidents of a serious nature linked with bullying at school like shootings have led researchers to more closely examine this behavior. Originally, the form of bullying had been face-to-face where students. Today, the existence of technology has been associated with the shift in location of bullying between young adolescent peers from just being confined to school compounds to home.

Face to face bullying

The definition of bullying is such that there is repetitive harm or disturbance of a person caused by an imbalance of power. The aggressive behavior in bullies and their imbalance of power can be psychological or physical and unprovoked. Face to face bullying is also referred to as conventional or traditional bullying which include direct physical aggression like kicking, hitting or pushing; and direct verbal aggression such as teasing, taunting, name-calling and threatening.

Relational bullying

Today, bullying is defined as an expanded form of bullying and victimization that includes the use of aggression like spreading rumors that reveal someone as mean or intentionally excluding a person from a given peer group. In this case, another person is harmed through deliberate manipulation and relationship damage. This form of bullying is prominent and very compelling and is directed towards both males and females. Relational aggression is identified to cause distress among the victims.

Cyber bullying/victimization

The rapidly increasing access to and use of the internet by youths has led to the birth and development of cyber bullying and victimization. This form of bullying is known as cyber bullying, online harassment or internet bullying (Campfield, 2006). Through the internet, bullies torment their victims in cyberspace through technologies such as emails, social networking sites, instant messaging, web sites and chat rooms. Other common grounds for cyber bullying include text-messaging over cell phones and phone cameras.

Bullying demographics

It is believed that boys are more often bullies as opposed to girls. However, research has revealed that boys less frequently aimed their aggression towards girls but towards other boys in order to decide the social order after the transition to middle school. From statistics, boys are more victims to bullying than girls while girls were mostly targeted by other girls. Meichenbaum (2012) also revealed that bullying is usually perpetrated by boys and that at times, the bullying victim may provoked it. This should not imply that bullying is part and parcel of middle school children.

On the contrary, effective measures should be taken to intervene and support these children from the effect of bullying. When analyzing bullying perpetrations and victimization amongst students in different grades, Wang, Iannotti and Nansel (2009), found no difference between bullying and victimization amongst sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth graders. However, it was common that in all grade levels, bullying targets were more of the younger students while bullies were the older students.

Other influential factors on bullying include family and peers, ethnic group, socioeconomic status and self-esteem. According to Hinduja and Patchin (2010), students with low self-esteem are at the risk of being victimized or be forced into submission. However, self-esteem is not a cause of victimization. In addition, family values and practices like mode of parenting or child-rearing was attributed to cause bullying and victimization. For instance, the more the parents were involved in their children’s lives, the lesser these children were involved in all the types of bullying.

In additionally, overprotective parents have led to a higher correlation with higher victimization rates during school years (Sharbaro and Enyeart, 2011). SES and Ethnicity have been linked to middle students, higher acts of bullying. A study by the national Association of Health Education Centers (2004) found that older boys from urban low SES, Black/Hispanic schools are more likely to be bullies although no type of bullying is specified. Research has also correlated higher victimization levels to with large disparities among SES levels. This was confirmed by Due et al (2009), who found out that adolescents living in countries with larger economic inequality being at elevated risk of being victims of bullying.

Research statement

Bullying is a form of behavior that has been on the rise mostly within the middle school settings. Due to technological advancements, bullying has become an issue that goes beyond school grounds to home. Studies have it that bullying has the effect of lowering a student’s self esteem which in return affects student’s performance academically. In this research, the independent variables include bullying location, ethnic group, socioeconomic status and grade level. The dependent variable is the form of bullying.

Methodology

In this study, an instrument named Bullying survey with 11 elements was used to collect information on physical, verbal, social or relational bullying. The bullying location was used to collect bullying victimization and offense information. The bullying location was also used to provide information on there being a bystander, the type of bullying behavior. The bullying survey was also used to collect information on the internal consistence reliability.

A bullying victimization scale was used by students to assist them assess their bullying experience and decision makers to determine the degree of bullying. Cyber bullying and online aggression survey was used to collect data on the overall cyberbullying, victimization and offending. For the six schools selected, a sample of 600 students was selected 100 students from each school. For anonymity, participating students were required not to provide names. Two waves of surveys were sent out in spring while two months later was a follow up as a way of increasing the rate of response.

Conclusion

In the study, 45 % were female while 55% were male. The study also involved 150 six graders, 120 seventh graders, 180 eighth graders and 150 ninth graders. Majority of these students 75 percent indicated that bullying took place in school while girls were most of these victims.  590 participants admitted having access to internet (Mark and Ratliffe, 2012). Most boys admitted that bullying took place at school followed by home ground. Within the classroom, verbal bullying was common amongst girls, while victimization was more in the low self-esteem students. This had the effect reducing performance in the student’s academic lives. In the case urban males from black/Hispanic backgrounds bullying was higher and even worse for students from low SES backgrounds.

Bully/victims were also related to the higher numbers in the low socioeconomic status background students who engaged in revenge after being victimized.

These results indicate that social economic status, age and ethnic group of the student affected the frequency of student bullying and victimization. Low grade level had little or no effect on the student being a bully or a victim of bullying as bullying and victimization.

To improve the study, I would suggest involving more diversity on student’s ethnicity not only to include the African Americans and the Hispanic whites. From here, the research would go ahead to include the assessment of bullying in white low SES students living in urban areas.

References

Hinduja, S., and Patchin, J., (2010). Cyber bullying and self esteem.

Mark, L., and Ratliffe, K., (2012). Cyber Worlds. Retrieved from https://www.google.co.ke/search?q=cyber+worlds%3A+new+playgrounds+for+bullying&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

Meichenbaun, D., (2012). Bullying: an imbalance power. The Melissa institute. Retrieved from www.melissainstitute.org/documents/BULLYING.pdf

Sharbaro, V., and Enyeart, T., (2011). An exploratory study of bullying and cyber bullying behaviors. American journal of Health studies. Vol 26. Iss.3.

Wang, J., Iannotti, R., and Nansel, T., (2009). Perceptions of bullying, cyber bullying, and school safety by Urban Middle school students’. Journal of school violence. Vol. 8. Iss. 2. P. 159-176

Appendix one

1. What middle school do you attend:______________________________

2. What grade are you in: ____________________________

3. Gender: Male __________ female________________

4. What is your ethnicity? Asian ___  black ___________ Hispanic white __________native American __________ other __________

5. How do you define bullying?

6. Have you been a victim of any form of bullying?

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