The latest research on the impact of cyberbullying on children has just been collected in a special double issue of the journal Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, published by Routledge. From the complex relationships between cyberbullies and their victims, to a greater moral disengagement in cyberbullies compared to traditional bullies.
Advances in technology have made life better for most people. But they've also meant that school bullies can now torment their victims by mobile phone or over the Internet, rather than just in school or in the playground, making life much worse for many young people.
Cyberbullying is now a large part of all bullying in schools, and has its own characteristics. While still fundamentally a 'systemic abuse of power' like 'traditional' bullying, cyberbullying is mainly 'indirect, rather than face to face, and may be anonymous'; the bully rarely sees the reaction of his or her victims immediately (and thus the consequences); the potential audience for the bully is wider; and nasty messages can follow a victim around by phone or computer to any location, at any time of day, making it very hard to escape from.
For these reasons, cyberbullying is now a topic of major international concern. The latest research on its impact has just been collected in a special double issue of the journal Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties (17 [3/4] 2012).
Guest Editor Peter K. Smith from Goldsmiths, University of London, has collected 15 articles with data from 12 countries. Five papers provide context by discussing traditional forms of bullying. Two papers introduce, define and explain the concept of cyberbullying, while eight further papers examine the phenomenon in more detail, often using traditionally bullying as comparison. The papers discuss the complex relationship between emotional and behavioural factors for both cyberbullies and their victims, to help understand and prevent its rise. One paper found, for example, that 'those involved in cyberbullying showed greater moral disengagement than those involved in traditional bullying', but also that children who were happier at school were less at risk of becoming victims', hopefully pointing the way to at least one form of prevention.
Academics, educators, social workers and parents have been tackling the issue of bullying in one form or another for years. Unfortunately, the advent of cyberbullying presents them with yet another front in their battle. Efforts to tackle this new form of bullying can draw on established techniques, but more research is needed. This special issue is a very important first step in reducing the misery bullying, both 'cyber' and 'traditional', causes for so many young people.
For more information, see: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rebd20/17/3-4
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