Cyberbullying is defined as “any behaviour performed through electronic or digital media by individuals or groups that repeatedly communicates hostile or aggressive messages intended to inflict harm or discomfort on others” (Tokunaga, p. 278, 2010). It can occur at any time of day unlike ‘traditional’ bullying, which takes place around and during the school day. This is due to the nature of social media, which is one of the main ways in which young people interact in the 21st century.
Young people who are victims of cyberbullying often suffer issues with physical (losing or gaining weight, sleep disturbances) and mental health (depression, anxiety, isolation, suicidal ideation). Academic achievement may also be impacted.
Parents and carers should look out for warning signs such as avoidance of technology, changes in appetite, isolation, anxiety and depression. They should encourage an open dialogue around the usage of social media and encourage the utilisation of privacy settings.
If parents and carers believe that their child has been a victim of cyberbullying, the best thing to do is to record what has happened, take screen shots of the messages and images and block the person who has been bullying them.
Sam’s Story: Listening to Children and young people’s experiences of bullying in Wales
Respecting Others: anti-bullying guidance (NAFWC 23/03)
Respecting others: bullying around race, religion and culture
Respecting others: bullying around special education needs and disabilities
Respecting others: cyberbullying
Respecting others: homophobic bullying
Respecting others: sexist, sexual and transphobic bullying
Northern Ireland Resources
The established and the outsiders: cyberbullying as an exclusionary process. Dr Cindy Corliss, 2017
Cyberbullying has become increasingly problematic over the past decade with extreme instances of young people committing suicide due to their victimisation. While the prevalence of cyberbullying along with its effects have been researched and identified, the theoretical underpinnings for determining why young people engage in these behaviours has been under researched. A clear understanding behind the motivations into cyberbullying as exclusion is necessary in order to help decrease the behaviours as well as addressing deficiencies in defining what cyberbullying is.
This study used a mixed methods design, first using quantitative data via a survey designed to target pupils (n=450) in three Catholic Secondary schools in Glasgow, Scotland. Second, qualitative data was collected through interviews with educational professionals (n=13; nine teachers, four non-teacher educators). The discussion of findings focuses on the perceptions of cyberbullying through the eyes of educators and how they understand and recognise the exclusionary process. To facilitate understanding cyberbullying as exclusion, the results of this study were explored through the lens of the Established and Outsiders framework.
The research finds that while teachers are undereducated and uninformed on social media and cyberbullying, young people continue to increase their knowledge and access to these sites for both socialisation and exclusion, which is having a significant effect on their physical and metal well being. While most young people surveyed claim not to have been victims of cyberbullying, the evidence from both the survey and interviews agree that girls were more likely to engage in cyberbullying as both victim and bully. Teachers from the three participating schools experienced challenges in understanding and recognising cyberbullying and the usage of social media by young people. Their abilities to recognise these behaviours were often underpinned by their lack of training in areas of technology in conjunction with their negative attitudes toward social media.
This study enriches the wider literature by examining cyberbullying as exclusion through the lens of Elias’s Established and Outsider framework, providing a novel approach to understanding the exclusionary process. The study also provides evidence asserting the need for providing in-service teachers education, training and support in understanding and recognising cyberbullying behaviours.