Cyberbullying is a newer type of bullying defined as basically any sort of malicious harm or intent to hurt someone via digital platforms. This could be through social media, emails, texts, multimedia texts, multimedia publications that all point to the direction of causing harm to someone or groups of people.
While the word “bully” has been used a lot in the past few years with kids complaining of other kids, it doesn’t mean the same thing as someone who has been part of the continuous assault of negativity and jokes. I was called a Bully as a coach because I made my athletes skate lines (hockey skating) when they messed up a drill. What the parents didn’t know or understand is that I was there trying to help out their kids and never said anything degrading to them. I was the one giving them hug and encouraging them. When I was relieved of my coaching duties that year, the players (16-year old’s) were in tears and didn’t understand why they decided to part ways with me. The Vice President of the association later apologized to me saying he didn’t understand why some parent called me a bully, even after he had talked to the players. I told him, “t is simple. I’m a coach that demands perfection and I held their kids accountable for their actions and mistakes. That doesn’t make me a bully. That makes me someone who gives tough love and expects a lot.” Still to this day I am friends with a lot of those kids (who are grown adults now) and the parents on social media. The one who called me that, he’s not friends with me.
A child calling someone a name, while still a bad thing, isn’t on the level of a child who has had numerous attacks and hateful slurs, texts, pictures and memes shared where they are the focus of the jokes. Just last year there was a female student, at the school I work at, posted a picture of the back of a naked person and digitally put the face of a boy student at the school superimposed on the head of the person and sent it via Snapchat and Airdrop. The student came and told me about it and we immediately went to the resource officer. While the boy student wasn’t too upset (because it wasn’t him), the female student was forced to withdraw from the school. She was labeled a cyberbully and was forced to enroll in another district. She did admit to maliciously sending the file out to hurt this student. It is my personal belief that my school handled this situation correctly. There is Zero tolerance at my school for this and it shows.
As a society I believe that we do have a long way to go to correct bullying both in person and online. It would be great to be part of a group to attack or stop the use of bullying and cyberbullying. I believe that Developing a Positive School Climate (Hinduja, Patchin, 2015) is a great way for us to start. I also believe that with the power social media, using influencers, artists, speakers, musicians and normal people sharing their stories of being bullied or being a bully will help get the messages across to the young people. If kids heard stories from those idols, maybe it would impact them more. When celebrities share stories, it brings them down to the same playing field or same floor as the commoners. Could you imagine what it must have been like for someone like Jay-Z or Beyonce growing up? If they were teased or bullied or if they were (still can be) a bully, what was it like for them? Maybe the kids can relate or see errors in how they are conducting themselves online and in person.
It is just a shame that we have come to the point and it continues to be such a hot topic. Maybe our congressmen and elected officials can start to address this behavior and have consequences but for online and in person bullying.
Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J.W. (2015). Developing a positive school climate: Top ten tips to prevent bullying and cyberbullying. Cyberbullying Research Center. Hinduja_Patchin_School-Climate-Top-Ten-Tips-To-Prevent-Cyberbullying.pdf