Online Bullying Really Not That Common

from the moral-panics dept

To hear some people tell it, "cyber bullying" is some huge and awful problem where "something" needs to be done. It's a classic moral panic situation, but usually seems to involve parents totally overreacting. We've pointed out in the past that kids don't view it as bullying and now some new research from the folks at Pew have pointed out that online bullying and general "meanness" really isn't all that common. Yes, it does happen. And it sucks for those who are the target of such bullying. But that's no reason to overreact and need to pass crazy legislation to wipe out the First Amendment in some quixotic effort to outlaw being mean.
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Filed Under: bullying, online


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  1. identicon
    Griff, 12 Nov 2011 @ 9:29am

    Misrepresentation of bullying going on

    Bullying that I have seen is not (as seems to be described by some posters here) misbehaviour of a single miscreant ("the bully"). It is frequently (esp in cyber cases) more than one (the "in crowd") being mean to someone "less cool".

    And in those circumstances most weak willed onlookers won't go against the in crowd.
    So asking the bullied one to ignore the miscreants does not result in the bullies being somehow ostracised by the general populace, unless the bullied one can somehow engineer a huge PR coup and be "cooler than them".


    I got in a near flame war (maybe in TD) saying this once before but I'll say it again. The victim often exhibits some behaviour that makes them more likely to be a victim. (They move schools, it starts all over again). Everyone knows this but is too PC to admit it.
    (This is not the case if the bullying is rooted in racism, agreed, but I would contend this not the case in most cases).

    Note that I am NOT SAYING it is the victim's FAULT.
    But that part of the power to stop it happening rests with them.
    And we do the victim a disservice if we don't try to give them that power.

    Sure, punish the bully. That obviously needs to happen to show everyone there is justice in the world, and to stop him/her doing it again to someone else.
    But that alone does not address the problem - there will just be another bully later.

    I attempted to ignore a group of bullies as a kid for years
    until I saw another of their victims fight back with sudden massive (disproportionate) force. And it stopped there and then. And the victim got a lot of cudos because everyone secretly hated the bullies. Having seen that, what do you think would I teach my own kids ?

    Fighting back and exposing the bully as a coward in an online setting takes a different set of actions to retaliating physically in the playground but it's something that a victim should be taught to do (IMHO).
    Running away (telling the victim to just "not go in facebook") is just confirming the victim status. And the same dynamic will be played out through the rest of the person's life.

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