Cyber bullying is a means of harassment that makes use of online tools to accomplish the purpose. The cyber bully may post embarrassing images, information, or gossip about another individual on various social networking sites as well as email, instant messaging, and message boards or forums. As with any type of bullying, the activity is aimed at undermining the confidence of the victim and creating suffering for reasons that are usually not apparent to anyone but the bully.
For the most part, cyber bullying is defined as involving an adolescent or teenager as the victim. The bully is most commonly a peer to the victim, although there are instances where the instigator of the bullying is someone older. When the activity involves adults as both the victim and the bully, the behavior is more commonly referred to as cyber stalking or cyber harassment.
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The exact approach to cyber bullying will vary. In some instances, the bully will send a series of intimidating messages to the victim either through email or the use of an instant messaging application. At other times, the bully will join chat rooms that the victim uses regularly and either post negative comments about the victim or directly engage the victim with name-calling or other derisive verbiage. The bully may use a social networking site to pose embarrassing photos of the victim, often doctoring the photos to make them more embarrassing. On message boards and other similar venues, the bully may spread rumors regarding the ethics or morals of the victim in an attempt to damage the individual’s reputation.
The widespread nature of online bullying activity has led to many schools, parents, and some legal organizations to develop simple ways for victims to report cyber bullying. Once reported, the appropriate officials can take action to stop cyber bullying by an individual, often by the use of legal means. Cyber bullying school activity may lead to the bully being expelled or disciplined in some other fashion.
As more young people use the Internet for socializing, the incidence of cyber bullying is likely to continue. The development of new anti cyber bulling software and security measures may help to curtail the activity to a degree. Schools and other youth related organizations have also developed guidelines for the use of computers at schools and libraries, making it easier to stop cyber bullying when it is detected. In any case, the victim of cyber bullying should always report the activity so that corrective measures can be implemented.