My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, a Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, and a Fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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cyberbullying

I find myself increasingly uncomfortable with conversations about ‘cyberbullying.’ I fear that by emphasizing ‘cyber’ the term clouds what’s really going on. Don’t get me wrong – the internet, like all technologies before it, has altered the dynamics of bullying, but why didn’t my generation speak of ‘telebullying’? Three-way calling allowed people to bully from home with others virtually present for the attacks. Of course, I know the answer to that… bullying over the internet is not just a technological advance of bullying, but an advance that makes the attacks visible to adults while using a medium that confounds adults.

I think it’s important to acknowledge that bullying that takes place in mediated publics (blogs, social network sites, etc.) and through private messaging in a surveilled computer (IM, email, etc.) is visible to adults in ways that note-passing, bathroom-wall-scribbling, and phone bullying just aren’t. Most kids are smart enough to do physical bullying outside of the view of adults, but a huge amount of physical bullying takes place at school where adults are nearby: recess, bathroom, school bus, under the bleachers at games, school carpark, etc.

In some senses, I’m glad that adults can see what terrible things take place amongst peer groups, but I’m unbelievably frustrated by how most of those adults emphasize the CYBER rather than the BULLYING. It’s as if the internet is the cause of the bullying. The internet does not cause bullying, but it does MIRROR and MAGNIFY bullying.

Although I don’t know of any data on this, I would bet that 99% of cyberbullying is committed by someone the victim knows offline. (The exceptions would be those who have an active online social life amongst strangers in environments like WoW or the blogosphere; because of stranger danger, this is increasingly rare.) I have yet to run into Jekyll & Hyde story where a bully is friendly in person (except when in front of adults), but a devil online. (Note: this comes back to the adult-centric view of bullying. Just because kids appear to be sweet to one another in front of you doesn’t mean that they are when out of your sight.) What happens is that the internet becomes yet-another medium for bullying.

This is what I mean by mirroring… For most teens, the internet mirrors the dynamics that take place offline. Bullies offline are bullies online. Troubled kids offline are troubled kids online. Yet, because adults typically only see the online exposures, they think that they are just bullies or troubled online. This is where we’re fooling ourselves. If you see a troubled kid or a bully online, bet your bottom dollar that an offline intervention is needed. The internet is not the problem – it’s the mirror.

One of the things that makes mediated bullying insidious is that it doesn’t end when the school bell rings. I remember this from the phone calls. The trick was to answer the phone before your mom did so that she didn’t realize what was going on (because it’s mega embarrassing to have your parents involved with being tormented by peers and if you didn’t get to the phone first, they would sucker up to your mom so that you couldn’t tell how cruel they were being). Given the amount of time spent on the internet, it sucks to be constantly tormented there – it’s like having the phone never stop ringing.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only way in which the internet magnifies bullying. Those four properties that I talk a lot about – persistence, searchability, replicability, invisible audiences – change the dynamics of bullying too. Bullying graffiti gets cleaned up in a day; it’s a lot harder to clean up online spewage. The properties that I talk about change the rules of scale. There aren’t that many venues where you can bully someone offline in front of a large audience without attracting adults; it’s a lot easier to do it online. The properties of bits (primarily replicability) make it a lot harder to tell what is ‘real’. How do you know if that IM conversation really happened or if it was doctored before being passed on?

Now that Facebook has hit high school, things like the News Feed pass on more than who dumped who – rumors and bullying fly far faster and farther than news of Barack being on the site. With each new technology, there is bullying… This isn’t going to stop with social network sites. Already I’m seeing the mobile phone operate as the best bullying tool ever. My favorite technique to watch is the text bombing tactic. If you know that someone only has 1000 text messages per month, send them 2000. Because most carriers don’t let people block specific numbers for texting, there’s no way to stop the $.10 fees that build up. This means that the target of bullying is going to literally have to pay or change their phone number. (Parent-to-parent calls rarely stop bullying so ratting out the bully typically does little to stop the tormenting.)

So, are we going to call the next wave ‘mobullying’? When are we going to recognize that the main issue is bullying and, rather than focus on the rapidly shifting technology, focus on the bullying itself? Like it or not, the technology is going to keep magnifying bullying in new and unexpected ways. Focusing on the technology will not make the bullying actually go away, although the more we push it underground, the less visible it is to adults. (For example, private profiles have made a lot of previously visible bullying now invisible.)

All this said, I’m not so convinced that bullying will go away. More depressingly, I think that it will continue to get worse. The more we as a society focus on hyper-individualism (and free speech above respect), the more we see youth believe that they have the right to torment anyone they wish. The less youth are socialized into adult society, the worse bullying gets. The less present parents are (jail, addiction, _workaholism_), the more bullying operates as a tactic for attention. The more we emphasize that mean-spirited attacks win air time on reality TV (and are the acceptable manner of judgment for American Idol), the more we set the standard for bullying. We’re living in a culture where bullying gets tacit validation in so many ways. We adults create child bullies through our actions – perhaps we need to think about the standards we set rather than the technology? I’m regularly horrified by my professional colleagues who are at work at 7PM even though they have young children at home who will be in bed by 9PM… those children are acting out for a reason and i think it’s hypocritical to talk about the problems with technology when we don’t talk about the problems with adult presence.

Personally, I think that energy should be placed into teaching youth to manage bullies and bullying (of all forms). I was lucky to figure some of this out on my own, although I will never forget the night that 20+ peers surrounded me and another girl at a football game to watch the fight that was brewing. She hit me twice; I just stood there. She screamed at me, called me all sorts of names. I just stood there. We were once close friends, but I knew where her anger came from. I was 14 and something in me told me that responding would only make things worse. That night was hell, but she never spoke to me again.

What are the tactics that we can teach kids to handle bullying? How can we help them process what’s going on? How can we help them strategize how to handle the bullies rather than run away? What would happen if we put our energies into helping those who are attacked lessen the impact of the blows? This is relevant to more than just kids. But mean kids grow up to be trolls and attackers and adult bullies.

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26 comments to cyberbullying

  • Hi danah – great post. I agree that the core issue is bullying, although there are obviously differences in how it can happen with technology and different repercussions. I also think that technology has “democratized” bullying in a way. Anyone can bully online without having to be phsycially intimating. So the kid who gets physically bullied at school now suddenly has the digital tools to strike back. Girls have always found ways to bully that aren’t physically violent (i.e. relational bullying in which such tactics as “the silent treatment” can be employed with gut wrenching precision).

    Here’s what I tell parents about what’s different:

    - The viral nature of the internet – a note can be passed to several people, a MySpace page can be seen by hundreds. Same with sexually compromising photos or video.

    - Building on the above, the public nature of the internet is raising the stakes — instead of talks in the principals office and suspensions, we’re now seeing expulsions and defamation suits against kids and families, especially when it involves “bullying” a teacher on YouTube or MySpace.

    - The impersonation factor, yes, you can forge notes, but kids tend to share their passwords with each other (when they are BFFs), often leading to online impersonation on IM or in video games (when they’re no longer friends).

    - Harassment/stalking can now be done easily with this new set of tech tools as well — i.e. the text bombing you mentioned.

    Nancy Willard, who has done great work in this area characterizes the different types of cyberbullying as flaming, harassment and cyber stalking, impersonation, denigration and outing.

    The biggest challenge with bullying in general is getting kids to tell someone. It’s embarrassing, they don’t want to make it worse by having parents and teachers involved, or with “cyberbullying,” they don’t want to lose access to the internet. But teaching ethics, i.e. how to treat people, do unto others, is what parents must do. School prevention/education programs and PSAs like these help, too.

    But even with all the prevention in the world, bullying isn’t going away. And somehow, most of us survive it (I was bullied by girls in middle school). Still, the more comfortable kids can be made to feel about reporting it the better, especially when it happens with technology, since there are practical ways of blocking and stopping it from continuing.

  • Hi danah,

    I really don’t think bullying is getting any worse, and analyzing it as a result of hyper-individualism or increasing parental neglect I think is trying to see a trend that does not exist.

    What happens that makes middle school and high school the time when bullying causes the most trouble and draws the most attention (you never do hear about people looking for a solution to trolls do you?) is because at that age, kids don’t really know how to deal with it. Adult intervention can’t really help it would never really solve the problem, just force it into more covert but just as hurtful forms. Frankly, I don’t think adults or authority figures should get involved in cases of bullying for any reason other than physical injury. Any other effort is ultimately wasted.

    Luckily, everyone eventually learns how to deal with bullying or grows out of bullying behavior.

    I’m also going to quibble with that distinction you draw between bullies and the bullied. In my experience it was never as simple as the football team beating up the math team. Bullying is almost always reciprocal or passed on. In middle school and in high school, I was at times the victim and at others the perpetrator of what people would call “bullying”, whether cyber- or not. As time goes on, people grow out of it and settle down to become more comfortable with themselves and others.

    In short, I don’t think bullying is any more of a problem, than child predators on Myspace are.

  • I don’t disagree with agree with a single word of this and would say to Albert that while child predators are probably over estimated in the public consciousness, bullying is underestimated. Indeed, it’s arguable that the root cause is esteem issues and as we move into an inceasingly inequitable world, it is inevitable that bullying will both increase and become more violent.

  • Totally agree that one of the hidden positives of cyber bullying is that it brings visibility to a problem that would otherwise be nearly invisible. I think there’s another positive to look at, plenty of alternative communities online. If you’re ostracized and bullied in one there’s likely to be plenty others that welcome you with open arms. I’ve seen plenty of kids (including myself) who weren’t comfortable running with the cool crowd find happy homes online.

  • As a now-grownup bullied kid myself, I read your (fabulous) article with both a relieved sense of validation, and a very excited eye for how a non-therapy-type researcher distills this kid behavior that for whatever reason, most adults just can’t seem to wrap their heads around.

    One random thought that’s probably nothing earthshattering; in reading your guestimated-statistic about cyber-bully victims knowing most of their predators offline, I immediately drew parity to sexual abuse and rape statistics- and how sex crimes where victims know their attackers, continue to be de-prioritized by the criminal justice system (and kind of by society at large), because somehow they’re “less serious” than sex-crimes committed to/by strangers.

    A friend violating the trust of another friend by forcing non-consentual sex, is somehow less offensive than a knife to the throat in a back alley- despite the emotional scars for the victim, often times being much worse in the prior scenario.

    As you point out with bullying, aggressors were usually never friends with the bullied-kids in the first place… but the fact that they’re all peers, seems all too often to influence adults to laugh-off bullying as “kids will be kids” behavior.

    The parallels between the above, and many attitudes towards understanding/condemning date-rape, open-up a lot of questions for me that have less to do with the abusive scenarios themselves- and more to do with larger cultural attitudes that perhaps foster a dangerous tollerance, or more mis-understanding than educated corrective measures.

    Anyhow- awesome article, insightful and thought provoking- thank you!!

  • Just wanted to jump in again really quickly. I disagree with albert’s comment: “In short, I don’t think bullying is any more of a problem, than child predators on Myspace are.” I have interviewed teachers and parents who are dealing with this issue day in and day out — schools are scrambling to come up with policies that address the fallout when “slam book” type MySpace pages are created off of school grounds.

    Also, I disagree that the majority of bullying happens between peers who were not friends – this negates relational bullying between girls who often begin as best friends and then later turn against each other in ways that are often quite cruel. See Lyn Mikel Brown’s work.

    I linked to this post over at a new Ning social network created by Andy Carvin at PBS Teachers called Stop Cyberbullying. There are lots of educators in the trenches who may stop by and share their thoughts on the important issue as well.

  • Just to give you a context: I’m a school teacher in Flanders (Belgium). I teach morality to primary school children. Teachers in Flanders have their own little monthly magazine called Klasse, which gives some very useful information on teaching and lets you know about the latest and greatest on the teaching front.

    The things you talk about in this post, are some things that have been talked about in Klasse over the last couple of years. They also have been calling it “cyberbullying”, but with the added comment that cyber only talks about where the bullying takes place. Like you said bullying takes on bigger proportions in the cyberworld, and I think the biggest problem is that things get passed on and end up somewhere out of the control of both bullied person and the kid that’s doing the bullying. Another aspect that gets a lot of attention is the fact that on the internet it’s easier to be “anonymous”. The bullied kid doesn’t always know who’s bullying him online. Like you state, they probably aren’t only bullied online, but they can’t tell for sure it’s the same persons. The possible “solution” given here is at first talk to the kids about it, and talk about their behaviour on the internet. And also learn them how to behave, and that it isn’t always such a good idea to give passwords out to friends etc. In a magazine for the kids was also talked about “cyberbullying”, and I remember one of them being genuinely struck you could do that kind of thing.

  • Every post I read from you on this topic raises all the extraordinary memories of being bullied for no reason other than being me. I applaud your comments about adults contributing to the bully-raising by applauding shows that trash other people, being unavailable and the standards we’re setting. It’s something that continually troubles me and one of the reasons I’m known as being a bit out of it for not following those hugely popular reality shows that glorify verbal attacks as par for the course.

    This is a great post, thank you for writing it.

    Karoli

  • The Kathy Sierra / Blogger’s Code of Conduct stuff reminds me of another end of innocence experience — Altamont.

    Altamont came at the end of several music festivals that were full of people, interesting behavior and LSD. I had “dropped” on several occasions and each time it was wonderous, communal and beyond.

    Then people were killed and everyone knew bad things could happen. After that I became conscious not my design but because of fear. I continued to risk but not before a nation of freaks — just in smaller circles.

    I guess I wonder if blogs can me self-regulating or if the regulation has to come from the blogger?

    Perhaps people can’t be themselves — especially women. That would be / already is a sad state of affairs.

    Some people will say: “Oh, women should tough it out.” Easier said than done. Try it before you say it.

  • he Kathy Sierra / Blogger’s Code of Conduct stuff reminds me of another end of innocence experience — Altamont.

    Altamont came at the end of several music festivals that were full of people, interesting behavior and LSD. I had “dropped” on several occasions and each time it was wonderous, communal and beyond.

    Then people were killed and everyone knew bad things could happen. After that I became conscious not my design but because of fear. I continued to risk but not before a nation of freaks — just in smaller circles.

    I guess I wonder if blogs can me self-regulating or if the regulation has to come from the blogger?

    Perhaps people can’t be themselves — especially women. That would be / already is a sad state of affairs.

    Some people will say: “Oh, women should tough it out.” Easier said than done. Try it before you say it.

  • I love this post! I agree that we must stop hiding the actual problem behind constant outbursts of media panics. Bullying (ALL bullying, regardless what preposition you use) is a huge problem that does not go away with time and we need to address this problem. I actually suspect that we can use the openness of the Internet to learn more about the systematic features of bullying and through that knowledge come closer to solutions. Today, we know very little about bullying. But we do know that it does not go away with time and we do know that being bullied as a child affects you forever. Great work, danah!

  • Steve

    I was bullied myself as a kid, because I was a stereotypical “nerd” (although that term was not yet in use). Academically talented with no social skills whatsoever. It finally stopped when I “saw red” one day in Junior High and unexpectedly turned around and bloodied the nose of an older and bigger kid with one lucky punch. But what was a solution in a small town at the end of the fifties is probably not useful today. In today’s world, there would be suspensions, possible assault charges, and they would see me as the bad guy.

    In the long run, there is no solution but to change the culture in such a way as to encourage people to just be better people. But I don’t know how to do this except via the moral and spiritual values known from antiquity that everybody knows but few want to take seriously.

    One thing I would look at, in a practical sense, is the home life of the perpetrators. I have this persistent notion that many if not most bullies are probably abuse victims. Maybe they could benefit from some kind of intervention?

    But institutions will want to do interventions “by the book”. And giving people the help they need rarely works as a formal process constrained by a rulebook.

    Maybe one idea is to spread far and wide among the younger generations a few of the core truths of psychodynamics, such that the insecurity and pathetic weakness of the bully would be immediately transparent to both victims and onlookers.

    Just a thought,
    -Steve

  • I’ve been thinking more and more about this issue. Having grown far from my father, i was your typical troubled kid. I do not believe that i was completely not-guilty of bullying others, but i naturally do not remember anything i did back on school days as bullying.

    But the question is: now i am living in my fathers house, and dealing with the fact that he has always been a bully. I still don’t have answers to questions like “does it make our relationship unavoidably shallow?” or “is a relationship the same thing for him and for me?” and even “do i want to overcome this barrier?”…

    But it is even more complicated than that. He is having health problems due to diabetes, and beyond many other symptoms his vision has strongly deteriorated — he barely sees anything. This has made him scared of everything, and has lowered his self-esteem.

    The real lesson of all of this is that he is still a bully. Even if he now can’t exert much violence, he still maintains relationships where the positions are marked by bullying. If a friend of his stands for a position he disagrees with, he will raise his voice and do some psych-bullying.

    He never grown over the attitude. He used much the same tactics in his life. But now this is making his behavior more and more unpleasant, so that all his friends are beginning to distance themselves from him.

    Also, bullying is not separate from the attitude the person has in life. For example, making life miserable for people “not with you” goes hand in hand with bending the rules to give the high life to those “with you”. And i would also bet that the same behavior can be easily spotted in the corporate world, for example.

    I do not think it is a matter of a bad behavior receiving tacit approval. I think the real problem is that bullying works. It’s not about ethics, it’s about pack dynamics. Any thing that would make a real difference has to be so deep a change in our society that would raise other issues.

    Please, please, i am not saying nothing should be done. Also, i do think the bullied child needs protection (i sure would have liked some). Actually, i think i do not even have a point to make…

    Anyways, danah is always great, but sometimes she is even better. Just a note: i’m using firefox in gnu/linux and the comments get clipped on the right margin.

  • I smiled when I read Steve’s comment, because that’s more or less how I dealt with being bullied through elementary school and middle school. And it worked too.

    In response to Anastasia’s comment about interviewing teachers who have to deal with online slam books, I really think that that is just not the school’s responsibility to deal with. They should not be involved in regulating the rest of their student’s lives, only the academic parts.

    Really, my point about bullying is that it’s just a part of growing up. This whole comment thread is full of people who were bullied when younger. I think just about everyone has experienced it in some form or other, and you all seemed to turn out fine.

  • Hi Albert — a lot of these slam books are about teachers, too. Maybe bullying is just the wrong word, because I feel like people assign a bunch of stereotypical traits to a “bully,” when the reality is that anyone can become a bully for a period of time. Are students who post about teachers bullying their teachers?

    For example:

    “MySpaces profile under the name of a former Pennsylvania high school principal depicted Eric Trosch as a hard-drinking, skirt-chasing pornography lover who thinks sex with students should be legalized. Not quite. The ex-Hickory High School principal claims four of his former students posted the phony profile, which hurt his reputation and left him embarrassed and humiliated. Now he’s suing those ex-students. The Court of Common Pleas lawsuit, as reported by TheSmokingGun.com, claims the students defamed Trosch by posting a series of MySpace pages about him over several days in December 2005. Trosch is now principal of Hermitage Middle School. With the help of MySpace, he was able to have the fake profiles deleted within a few days of their posting online, according to the complaint.”

    I just don’t think you can say that teachers shouldn’t be involved — it does play out at school. When online bullying escalates into actual fights at school, teachers have to deal with it. When a bullied student starts to do poorly in class, teachers have to deal with it. When the whole school is posting comments about the principal on a profile like the one described above, teachers have to deal with it. I get that we all survived (and thrived), but I don’t think it’s fair to dismiss or minimize bullying as something that we should ignore.

  • David McNayr

    Sorry, this is unrelated to yr entry, but I wanted to share it with you.

    I just encountered the most disturbing and bizarre ‘event’ on facebook.

    http://facebook.com/event.php?eid=2267454550

    it’s called “My grandma was abducted. Have you seen her?”

    I can’t tell why I feel so disturbed by it. Is it the simple fact that it’s on facebook, or the photo album with 20 near-identical pictures of this woman, or the message on the event’s wall posted by the woman’s grandson that says “rest in peace grandma… i love you”

    some things are just too absurd.

  • That’s funny, I just read a story about Eric Trosch right before coming here.

    I’m intrigued, you consider what happened in that incident bullying? A fake Myspace profile?

    I remember in high school, we would make fun of teachers/administrators we disliked mercilessly and invent all sorts of absurd (but hilarious at the time) fictional situations and depictions of them. I suspect not unlike what these students did for their principal. It was just good fun, venting a little, though I’m sure it would have offended the teachers if they ever saw it. But it certainly wouldn’t be considered “bullying.”

    Do you really think that the principal’s response in this situation was appropriate? The whole situation could’ve have been forgotten if he had just ignored the profiles and gone on his way. That’s how it is with most bullying online, honestly, if something is going to offend you, don’t look at it, right?

    If the profiles cause the students to behave more disrespectfully of him to his face or disrupts their learning in some way, then the principal can take action to remedy those specific behaviors.

    And as a somewhat unrelated note, how can he possibly win a defamation suit? Writing that makes no claim of accuracy should really be immune to libel and defamation suits.

  • Steve

    I have to disagree with Albert that all of us bullying victims “turned out fine”. I have tried to make the best of my own mental situation, and not give in to self-pity – but I have to say my years as a bullying victim have affected me deeply, and helped make me less effective as a person than I otherwise might have been.

    I already had poor social skills, which was part of what helped make me a target. But until I experienced being repeatedly ganged up on and laughed at, I never had the deep fear of other people which has persisted, at least somewhat, to this day.

    Maybe not for everybody, but at least for some of us, being a persistently targeted victim can create deep and long-lasting damage.

    Even though I know better, I often feel a kinship with the young kids who pick up a gun and go after their tormentors. No, it’s not right and I don’t support it. But even now, 45 years later, I still have enough of the rage and helplessness to emphasize with that approach.

    This sh*t is NOT harmless!

    -Steve

  • This morning on the radio, I heard a news story that most kids have been bullied in their elementary school tenure which reminded me of your post. At first I was depressed about the figure (9 out of 10 kids), but then I realized maybe bullying is a part of growing up? We’re human animals after all, and what we call bullying is not deemed as such in other species.

    This isn’t to say bullying is good (it’s not), but just that it might be part of the socialization of humans. That said, maybe there’s a way to educate children to reduce this. I couldn’t help but think of this story about Legotown that I saw on Plastic. Even 5- to 9-year-olds understand power and equality, and I’m certain that activities like Legotown provide powerful lessons to kids in their most impressionable years. If there’s a solution to bullying, that’s a good place to start.

    WRT the Internet, I see bullying-like acts on the site where I work. The difference there is that most communication is public. If someone says something offensive, the community insults or ignores those folks. Like Anastasia said, when bullying is brought out in public, there’s room for a solution like in the Simpsons episode where Nelson gets called out and has to walk down the street with his pants around his ankles and everyone laughs at him… It’s not the solution, but it’s nice to have faith in humanity.

  • great post.. I agree with your take. I’d like to say that it echoes the way lots of practices become “visible” online. Practices that may or may not be in themselves bad.

    This is like the file sharing/sampling debates – quotation, repetition, reference, copying, mixtapes: a practice that already existed in non-cyber form, and that is in certain ways mirrored and amplified online. The effects may be different because of that amplification, but I think in both cases we will never understand the dynamics of the practice (for good or ill) if we think it is caused by the technology.

    that said I think technology design can affect the dynamics in some ways, the capabilities of the internet to be a mirror and a facilitator of certain practices and not others is partly based in the expectations, desires and culture of the people who designed the protocols and the machines, so I don’t think it is entirely neutral.

    I get the sense you want to take the discussion elsewhere than the technology and I’m basically in agreement, but for people who are technologists, can they do anything?

    Do you have any thoughts on that? Does technology have any role to play in this concern about bullying (or other things seen as problematic or desirable) or do you see it as a neutral medium through which our cultural battles are fought? or is there another way to look at it (probably) that I am missing?

  • I wholeheartedly agree with you, Danah.

    I find myself wishing people would put effort into the choices/consequences of situations. Kids are impulsive and can act in this ignorant impulsiveness when bored/angry/mischevious.

    The idea of a “bully” is so round– show the different sides & angles… the choices and consequences of both being the bully and the victim.

    I hate to use this as an example… but look at Imus. He chose to use three words, totally meant in jest (so he says), on a public platform and a whole nation erupts. Three words… that’s it. Content means different things to different people. Three mean words placed in public can label you a bully and in some extreme cases– change your life. Bullying can happen anywhere/anytime… It just so happens that by placing it on the web, it can be accessed by an-y-one. Anyone. No matter how we would like to believe that the web is a private, personal space… it is not.

    This is my favorite line:
    “(Bullying online) is visible to adults in ways that note-passing, bathroom-wall-scribbling, and phone bullying just aren’t. And most kids are smart enough to do physical bullying outside of the view of adults, but a huge amount of physical bullying takes place at school where adults are nearby: recess, bathroom, school bus, under the bleachers at games, school carpark, etc.”

    Anyway… great piece, Danah! :)

  • Danah,

    Hope it’s not too diversionary to mention that apparently cyberbullying isn’t just for kids.

  • Paul

    the reason cyber is being highlighted at present is because a whole generation of adults haven’t grown up with computers and are only now beginning to realise some of the problems. Bullying in general is a well known area with a great deal of research done. We have a good idea of the gender differences relating to bullying, where it occurs, who are likely to be bullies/victims and so on.
    We have little to no properly researched data on internet bullying, and many adults don’t really understand because they themselves never experienced cyberbullying when they were kids.
    While you’re right that the internet mirrors things that happen in real life, the astonishing speed of the internet and the greater reach (a video of an overweight kid can be taken and published in minutes, or a website defaming and threatening teachers in a school can go up and (due to freedom of speech etc) be very hard to take down) have raised issues that we are not yet equipped to deal with.
    So I for one am very pleased to see ‘cyber’ being raised – I don’t think it’s at the expense of bullying, and if it helps adults understand what is going on, and put workable policies in place in schools to make students accountable, that can’t be a bad thing.

  • Marty

    You mentioned that you thought most of this bullying happens by people they know in person, but I was victimized by a group I had never meet when I ran a site with a message board. When one group didn’t like the fact that i had the power to edit them or to cut their rude and very intensely insulting comments they lashed out, created their own site aimed directly at ruining my reputation. The once busy site i had was reduced to a small trickle of visitors and most simply quit altogether, but many jumped over to the site designed to ruin me. They had images of me cut and pasted onto pornographic images and then with anyone who visited my site who had a picture of themselves posted anywhere they could find. My only recourse was to go off-line for a year or so and simply vanish into thin air.
    I had not meet a single one of these people, but had meet many through the site before it was trashed repeatedly.
    No, they don’t always know you personally. often they only disagree with you. That’s often enough to set some of these nut cases off.

  • jack swallows

    dam marty wrote a dam essay
    quit complaining and fight back

    quit being scared and who cares what they say
    dam
    u guyz need to get out more

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