Cyberbullying and Cyberstalking: Are They as Serious as Their Offline Counterparts?

Cyberbullying and Cyberstalking: Are They as Serious as Their Offline Counterparts?

Gráinne Kirwan (Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Ireland) and Andrew Power (Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Ireland)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-350-8.ch009
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Background

Rebecca is a fifteen year old girl who has repeatedly been the victim of cyberbullying. She regularly has to remove derogatory comments from other people which are posted on her social networking profiles. She also gets many text messages from phone numbers that she does not recognise, most of which are insulting and some of which contain threats of physical abuse. Recently she was sent a picture message where an image of her head had been placed onto someone else’s naked body. When Rebecca went to school the next day, she discovered that the picture message had been circulated around all her classmates. She feels humiliated and upset, even though she knows that the photograph has been faked. Rebecca received more humiliating text messages throughout the day, and they did not stop when she returned home. Late that night her cell phone rang, but the caller remained silent when she answered. This happened eight more times until she gave up and turned off her phone. While she is very upset, Rebecca does not want to tell her parents about the bullying as she fears that they will take away her cell phone.

Stacy is a thirty year old woman who has recently broken up with her ex-boyfriend due to his abusive tendencies. Since the break-up, her ex-boyfriend has sent her at least ten emails every day, asking her to reconsider and to take him back. While she initially answered these emails, indicating that she was not willing to give the relationship another try, she quickly realised that this only encouraged his behaviours. He has cyberstalked her in other ways, including posting replies to every social networking post she writes, and initiating instant messaging conversations whenever she is online. He has also started to stalk her offline as well, using information about her whereabouts derived from her online activity. In the past few weeks his online communications have started to become more hostile, as he realised that Stacy was starting a new relationship. He began to send derogatory emails to Stacy, suggesting that she is sexually promiscuous and threatening to physically harm both her and her new boyfriend.

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