by Carlo Longino

Does It Make Any Difference If Kids Get Bullied Online Or Off?

from the it's-more-fun-when-you-blame-the-technology dept

A new survey from the Pew Internet Project says that one third of US teenagers online have been "cyberbullied". The kids say they've experienced at least one of the following: "having a private e-mail, IM or text messaging forwarded or posted where others could see it, the victim of an aggressive email, IM or text message, having a rumour spread about them online or having an embarrassing photograph posted online without permission." Without wishing to downplay these incidents, which can certainly be very damaging, they don't seem particularly different than the sort of bullying kids are subject to in school or elsewhere in the physical world. While there seems to be this desire to look at cyberbullying differently than offline bullying, the implication seems to be that technology is to blame, rather than the bullies. When permanent markers became widely available, allowing bullies to scrawl insults on their victims' metal lockers with some permanence, where they singled out for scorn or special legislative treatment? Probably not. The point here is that bullying is a problem, no matter where it takes place, or what tools bullies use. Rather than focusing on cyberbullying, the focus should be on combating all forms of bullying, online or off.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2007 @ 4:14pm

    of course it makes a difference, if the kid gets bullyed offline, then technology cant be blamed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    dorpus, Jun 29th, 2007 @ 4:30pm

    The Mathematics of Dead Children

    Judging from the state death registry data I have available:

    By far, the biggest killer of children under age 18 is birthing complications. They tend to die less often at 8am and noon, possibly related to shift changes at hospitals. Otherwise, children tend to die from motor vehicle accidents at night, tend to get shot or stabbed to death at 7pm, and tend to drown in the afternoons. 


    By season, children tend to die from motor vehicle accidents in May, drown in July, get shot to death in January, and get aborted in April or October. Sepsis has a curious sine-wave pattern peaking in April and October; after brainstorming with co-workers, it's probably caused by children who catch diseases after school starts in September, then sepsis rises when temperatures rise in April, then falls off during the Summer when school is out.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    zcat, Jun 29th, 2007 @ 4:37pm

    big difference..

    Finally, a form of bullying where the geeks have the advantage!! I'm all for it.. :-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Stute, Jun 29th, 2007 @ 5:12pm

    Re: big difference..

    LOL! Yes! Revenge of the nerds in 2007! BWHAHAH!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2007 @ 5:45pm

    Nothing new

    Of course it doesn't make any difference.

    Human beings seem to have a predisposition to sadism. In childhood, any position of power (like being bigger, stronger or more popular) will be exploited, and used to make life miserable for the powerless. That's just the way things are. It sucks. It sucks hard. But it's not about to change, and the emergence of new media doesn't impact it in any way.

    The idea that you can combat cyberbullying, the very existence of the term "cyberbullying", is just as preposterous as the idea that you can combat bullying, period.

    The only thing you can do about bullying is survive school, grow up, get a job, make lots of money and then laugh your ass off at the now pathetic schmucks who once held so much power over you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Michael, Jun 29th, 2007 @ 5:46pm


    The kids of today are a whiny bunch to say the least anyway, and seem to grow up into whiny adults as well, regardless of technology, the strong will always prey on the weak, which is exactly as nature intended it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Yossi, Jun 29th, 2007 @ 5:46pm

    blame the marker

    in san fransisco kids are not alowed to have a permanent marker on them while rideing the subways.

    just my two cents of asshattery.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2007 @ 6:05pm

    I notice lots of things that get different (harsher) rules/punishment when technology is involved. I don't know why -- since if you break a law with tech, you're already breaking a law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2007 @ 6:30pm

    Markers and School

    Possession of a permanent marker can get you expelled from some schools.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    CommonSense, Jun 29th, 2007 @ 6:32pm

    not the point

    the point is that it's FAR EASIER for people to bully someone online than it is offline. those who would not do things offline are more likely to try it online, but those who do it offline will also do it online. technology has just increased the ease and ways in which someone can be bullied.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Coaster26, Jun 29th, 2007 @ 7:03pm

    It's also the type of bullying. It used to be get a black eye and lose your lunch money, pretty visible and usually everyone was aware who was the bully and who was the target.

    Online bullying hurts kids where it isn't right there for everyone to see, and has the added problem of not putting the kids face to face, it's a lot easier to say meaner, worse things, when you are not face to face with someone. Basically, it's bullying for pussies. Which doesn't make it any less - cowards are more cruel in their violence than others.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    General Eskimo, Jun 30th, 2007 @ 12:54am

    Well... bullying is a limp word legally

    From a legal perspective, calling it "bullying" is likely to cause setbacks. The nice thing about the internet is its infinite ability to catalog actions. So, when cyber-bullying becomes harassment and libel, things get juicy. The real issue is that when cyber-bullying gets serious (in the moment), nobody can throw a punch. However, as I said before, when you start pulling in lawyers and filing lawsuits, suddenly cyberbullying is MORE serious that other forms, as your evidence is commonly perfect, assuming your tech-guy isn't retarded.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Lucretious, Jul 1st, 2007 @ 2:36pm

    "Bullying" used to be called "interacting with your social peers". Kids learned to deal with all types in the schoolyard. Its part of the human experience. Now its cause for an entire branch of counseling and law enforcement.

    what a nation of moist fairies we've become.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2007 @ 11:19am

    Territories and Boundaries

    We're just animals. Regardless of age, we attempt to establish territory and elevate our status within the pack. Some use physical threats and violence, others use economic threats, and others jump into online comment forums and attempt to shout one another down, to name a few.

    Physical/threat types of "bullying" happen more often with kids because they don't come born with societal norms; they must be installed, often by people without the necessary skills to do so. But even when successful, all we're teaching them is that certain methods are wrong. We still strive for dominance and status, just like any dog in a pack.

    By posting as an Anonymous Coward, I attempt to not elevate my status within the comment group by assigning myself a moniker to be identified with. This is a high-minded attempt to deny my animal instincts. However I'm certain to express it later, in some other manner, and probably unconsciously, sometime shortly. I wonder what it will be?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2007 @ 11:24am

    Re: Territories and Boundaries

    For an example, see comment 5. The response is to use superior economic capabilities to dominate. This counter others' superior physical capabilities to dominate. Economics are considered by society to be acceptable forms of trying to do the same thing.

    Athletics is the only way in our society we advocate using physical stature and aggression to dominate, but even that isn't uncontested. See some of the comments on Techdirt from earlier today on the posting about the NFL.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 1:41am

    Reduces Medical bill ...

    The "offline" bully typically don't just stick to using ugly words (he saying rubbing childhood scars)...

    Of course, they are psychosomatic illnesses from the stress of any kind of bullying. But, the internet can almost create a "safer" envirnoment for children to learn a lifeskill that they will have to use sometime in there lives...

    Bullies don't naturely turn to better people as they get older... they typical just move to more inconspicuous means of bullying through deception and manipulation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    lala, Aug 28th, 2007 @ 3:23am


    of course it does

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Joe Sharp, Oct 13th, 2009 @ 2:48pm

    Are you tired of being bullied? We can help!

    Does your child get bullied in school? Do you wish there was something you could do to make your child feel more confident? Well, we can help!

    A prominent cable television show is now casting in New York City and the surrounding Tri-state area. We are currently looking for a family where a child has been bullied in school. We want to work with you to boost your child's self confidence and help them live a more enjoyable life.

    Please email us your story.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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