Silent Voices: The Perception of Cyberbullying Among At-Risk Middle School Students

Silent Voices: The Perception of Cyberbullying Among At-Risk Middle School Students

Orlin St. Surin (Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Developmental Research School, USA) and Rebecca J. Blankenship (Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/IJCBPL.2019100101


Traditionally, face-to-face bullying has been major problem among adolescents, especially those deemed at-risk. With the rise in the use of and advancements in mobile technologies, the Internet 2.0, and smart phones, a new form of bullying has been on the rise resulting from the increase in access to technologies and by association, social media outlets such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Cyberbullying, as it has been denoted, can occur at any time of the day on all social media platforms resulting in the potential of face-to-face victims enduring the abuse of their aggressors on an almost 24/7 basis. As such, cyberbullying can trigger numerous emotional and physical stressors among students. The purpose of this study was to discover the perceptions middle school students have about cyberbullying and their role as either victim, perpetrator, or bystander. The results of the study speak to a broader and emerging narrative indicating the psychological challenges faced by developing adolescent minds in negotiating face-to-face and virtual relationships.
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Understanding Traditional Versus Cyberbullying

As noted in multiple areas of research on traditional face-to-face bullying, it can assume many forms. For example, it can include repetitive and deliberate behaviors meant to mentally, physically, or socially isolate the targeted victim. Such punitive behaviors include physical threats, social exclusion, spreading rumors, verbal abuse, and the like. While identifying traditional bullying is somewhat more tangible as it is physically or aurally observable in real space and time, cyberbullying, due to its technology-based platform, can often be more difficulty to identify. However, cyberbullying can assume similar forms to traditional bullying in the aggressor’s latent intent to cause emotional and even threat of physical harm to the intended victim (Wright, 2019). Accordingly, cyberbullying can include physical threats such as hacking, creating fake profiles of the victim or flaming social media accounts to emotional abuse sent through illicit emails, text messages, or direct messages. As a result, students and other stakeholders such as administrators, parents, and teachers may find it difficult to compartmentalize what cyberbullying actually entails without referencing first traditional bullying. Thus, it can be challenging to differentiate traditional face-to-face versus cyberbullying as there may exist a perception overlap between the two in addition to the complicating factor that they exist in parallel yet separate venues of space and time.

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