by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
cyberbullying, laws, moral panic

As Cyberbullying Moral Panics Heat Up, Actual Rates Of Cyberbullying Decreasing

from the details,-details dept

If you hadn't noticed, there's been a growing moral panic around the concept of "cyberbullying", with various states passing laws against it and Congress even considering it as well. And, of course, if you read stories in the news these days, you might think that cyberbullying is happening everywhere and that It Must Be Stopped at all costs To Protect The Children.

However, as Larry Magid is pointing out, actual studies on the issue show that so-called "cyberbullying" is on the decline and most kids are good kids who are as disgusted with the concept as adults. In fact, some research suggests that all of the stories about this "cyberbullying" threat may actually make the problem worse. That's because kids are more likely to engage in the practice if they think it's common. And, even though it's not common today, all the press reports may spread the idea that it is. In the end, as Magid points out, as with other moral panics, the real solution tends to be parental education -- not misguided laws.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Wobbly Wonk, Apr 9th, 2010 @ 12:30pm

    'Protect the children' and 'piracy is killing the music industry' logic will be the main weapon used by government officials to monitor and corporations to control the internet.

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2010 @ 12:48pm

    Talking of cyberbullying, what about all those law firms extorting people about illegal downloads? Those are the REAL cyberbullies.

    Which reminds me, it came to my attention that TBI has announced it will stop its racket:

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

  3. icon
    jjmsan (profile), Apr 9th, 2010 @ 1:12pm

    Not the right link

    "What the task force did find is that "bullying and harassment, most often by peers, are the most salient threats that minors face, both online and offline." Partially because researchers can't agree on a definition of bullying and harassment, the actual risk is hard to quantify"
    Your link talks about the danger from sexual predators it does not suggest that cyberbullying is on the decline.

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

  4. icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Apr 9th, 2010 @ 1:15pm

    Moral Panics

    If you watch the mainstream news and believed what they said you would think the world was coming to an end the way everything is so extremely bad these days. Although, you would have been thinking that for years now. Sensationalism sells the news because there are lots of people who just don't understand that what is being reported will never be the whole picture on TV. I cannot tell you how many times I have shot down coworkers thoughts about the evils of this or that. I also get sent chain letters bashing one group or another which a quick visit to shows are completely wrong interpretations because they decided to play mix and match with quotes and pictures to make something look like "OMG LOOK AT THIS TRAVESTY!".
    The idea of cyberbullying is kind of funny though. Not as an actual law mind you. But, any user could simply stop responding to, or block any given "cyber bully". Just amusing.

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

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2010 @ 1:16pm

    ... and if we report about robberies down at the Seven-Eleven, more people will go out and do the same. Yep, that sounds about right!

    Could it be that the laws that are being enacted around the country might actually be partly responsible for the decrease in cyberbullying? While most kids are good kids, most adults are good adults -- but I'm not going to leave the keys in my car. However if they get left there by accident, it's still a crime to steal the car. Don't blame the victim (or the messenger) for someone who breaks the law or seeks to harm another.

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

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2010 @ 2:07pm

    The point of these laws have nothing to do with preventing bullying, they have more to do with giving governments and corporations more control over the population.

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

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2010 @ 3:34pm

    TAM's mom

    If I make comments about TAM's mom is that cyberbullying?

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

  8. identicon
    Excuse me..., Apr 9th, 2010 @ 3:35pm

    Decrease in cyberbullying?

    or decrease in reported cyberbullying, and incidents CLASSIFIED as such...

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

  9. identicon
    Ouch, Apr 9th, 2010 @ 7:37pm

    Facebook hell

    Didn’t you bully me by requesting to be my friend?! AAHHH!!

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

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2010 @ 8:49am

    Meanwhile, no one cares that kids are being ACTUALLY bullied every day causing them to develop real emotional, psychological, and even physical scarring that will last their entire lives. But, that's not ratings-grabbing hot news capable of inciting a moral panic!

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

  11. identicon
    Gene Cavanaugh, Apr 10th, 2010 @ 7:11pm


    Good article. Add to that: the best way to make something attractive to kids (and some of us older folks) is to outlaw it.

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

  12. icon
    Richard (profile), Apr 10th, 2010 @ 11:39pm

    Funnily, I got a letter from my local member today, talking about "cyber protection" and including topics like "cyber bullying". The statement that stuck with me the most was "Most often, cyber bullying is just another tool for the person who bullies face-to-face. However, it is becoming more common for those who are being bullied in the playground to retaliate online." From what I understand of that paragraph, that means that it is entirely possible that if your child is being bullied online, then they might be an ACTUAL bully at school.

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

  13. identicon
    Tyanna, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 11:41am

    I can't say understand the idea of Cyber-bullying. As you choose how you interact with people online, you have to let the person bully you in a way....right?

    If someone starts harassing, block them. It's not like in a playground setting where a child would be approached by a bully and couldn't get away.

    Best way to stop cyber-bullying would be to teach kids how to block people they don't like...IE be more knowledgeable about the internet in general.

    So perhaps better internet lessons should be given to kids instead of panicking about cyber-bullying.

    Or perhaps I just don't fully understand the issue *shrugs*

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

  14. identicon
    alyssa, Feb 10th, 2011 @ 8:32am

    ok well i am still a kid in school but we are learing about cyber bulling and i do NOT think this is right.. the people who are bulling are just using it fo attntion!.but think it is not making them look any cooler!.

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

  15. icon
    kevinanchi1 (profile), Mar 4th, 2011 @ 12:01am


    Hey guys thanks for sharing the information, I have noticed that the cyber bullying rates have decreased now a days as people are getting more aware and mostly more mature about the technology and such type of bullying is diminishing, and also strict rules re made for the cyber law so this type of menace is in control, i guess in coming days internet will be good and in control as we can see down the line the evolution of the internet, it was a nice content to read thanks again for sharing, keep up the good work. patio umbrellas

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

  16. icon
    Mike Strong (profile), Jul 17th, 2011 @ 9:05pm

    Timely article

    Cyber bulling is just a bullying with a different flavor. I think it is safe to say that bullies are always going to adapt to the times. Thanks for the article. Clickbank Launch Reviews

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

  17. identicon
    Ralph Machio, Aug 18th, 2011 @ 4:03pm

    Awesome article...

    Thanks for a great article. once again!
    Best USB Microphone

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

  18. identicon
    James White, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 4:43pm

    Timely article

    Great Comment and article. Always love to come back.
    Best Juicers | Japanese Cooking Knives

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

  19. identicon
    Sam, May 4th, 2012 @ 11:45am

    Actually this is a real issue and it's not surprising it's turned into a moral panic. I got cyber bullied nearly every day when I was around the age of 13 and it destroyed my self-esteem. I know a lot of young people who have been through similar things or worse. is a very easy website for people to target their victims because it's all anonymous and many victims from that website have been known to commit suicide. I used to get bullied on MSN by bullies at school and other people who made false accounts to get to me. I also got bullied through text and through myspace/bebo. It's an issue that should definitely be looked into maybe more so than it already is.

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

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