Social Problem of Cyberbullying

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As the uses of technology are rapidly rising, a new form of bullying has appeared. The newest form, known as cyberbullying, is, “the repeated use of technology to harass, humiliate or threaten” (Holladay, 2012). In South Hadley, Massachusetts, a new term “bullicide” was developed when Phoebe Prince committed suicide as a result of being cyberbullied.

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Phoebe was an Irish immigrant who was always going against societal norms. She chose to date boys who were (said by her peers) “too good for her.” Harassing posts all over social media immediately affected Phoebe and unfortunately led to her decision to commit suicide by hanging herself. Her tormentors are now facing criminal charges. This goes to show that cyberbullying is harmful to adolescents in today’s society.

In general, society tends to agree that cyberbullying should not be tolerated for any reason. Although not always obvious, the bullies themselves also deal with similar personal difficulties. Although bullying and cyberbullying are similar, the act of cyberbullying is much more diverse. It can be committed almost anywhere due to the increase in technology. Students no longer need to confront their peer face to face. Instead, social media and other technology gives them the ability to harass or humiliate from behind a screen and sometimes remain anonymous. This eliminates the emotions that are usually brought up by traditional bullying. Cyberbullying plays a larger role than just hurting feelings. Ronald Alexander, a marriage and family therapist, explains that, “words can cause great psychological harm” (2012). Although cyberbullying is a universally known problem, the issues of student’s emotional stability, physical health, and self-worth need to be identified and a solution needs to be found.

Being cyberbullied negatively effects a child’s self-esteem; however, we often fail to understand the cause of bullying behavior. What underlying issue is he or she dealing with? The epidemic that is spreading across the United States is to sympathize with the victim and to punish the bully. While at first this may seem like the appropriate action, this may not stop the bully from repeating this aggressive act again on a different victim. Alexander proposes that adults are to blame for the children’s behaviors. He believes that children in society today lack two things: compassion and empathy. Alexander describes compassion as “a presence of being where one holds…respect for all beings” while empathy is “an attitude in keeping one’s mind… open to feelings… that may differ from what you yourself hold to be true” (2012). The lack of these two characteristics could be the reason why adolescents cyberbully. Since they were not raised by parents who displayed compassion and empathy, they do not show compassion and empathy toward others. Charisse Nixon studied a cyberbullied victim and found that, “there is a significant relationship between cybervictimization and depression among adolescents” (2014).

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