What is Cyberbullying Anyway?
from the good-to-know-*before*-the-witch-hunt dept
- consider the types of activity that might be included within the term,
- consider the type of harm,
- consider the level of intent required by the offender,
- determine the extent that it will address off-campus conduct.
Yet... Dickerson ignores one major consideration: why have a separate policy for cyberbullying anyway? It seems to me that in order to consider these issues sanely, we need to stop pretending they're separate things simply because we apply a "cyber" prefix to them. What's a "cyberthreat?" How is that different from a threat in general? Is a "cyberthreat" just a threat made online? What if it's made with a cell phone instead? What about a plain old telephone? Yes, the medium must be considered ("you're going to die" is different when shouted in a playground than written in letters cut out of a magazine...), but do we create separate terms or policies for each medium? We do often need to re-examine our laws and policies in the face of new technologies, but it rarely makes sense to have separate "cyberpolicies" instead of ensuring that existing policies are adapted to handle the new technologies. Why not ensure that existing harassment policies cover real harassment that occurs online instead of creating a new "cyberharassment" policy? Without a consideration of the difference between cyberbullying and bullying in general at the heart of this discussion, people run the risk of spending their energy blaming the technology and grandstanding, creating new policies with troubling unintended consequences rather than addressing the real issue, which often may well just be plain old bullying in a new context. The new context can certainly present new challenges that might warrant policy changes, but people should be careful not to get distracted from the issue of bullying just because it has "cyber" tacked onto the front.