Encountering New Risks in Educating Children in the Contemporary Society: The Risk of Cyberbullying

Encountering New Risks in Educating Children in the Contemporary Society: The Risk of Cyberbullying

Selin Atalay (Izmir Bakircay University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1847-2.ch002


This chapter assesses the phenomenon of cyberbullying as a risk involved in educating children in the contemporary world. While online technologies become a vital part of teenagers' worlds, cyberbullying is becoming a significant problem. In this chapter, cyberbullying is regarded as a social issue that builds on the existing social structures and hierarchies inherent in societies. A sociological perspective is used in analyzing bullying and cyberbullying in relation to power, various forms of capital, and the gender order. The discussion also takes a critical stance and focus on technology as a social construct. Cyberbullying studies conducted in Turkey, which is defined as a ‘lower use, some risk' country for children and prevention strategies against cyberbullying will also be subject to analysis in this chapter. This discussion proposes that a sociological analysis of the underlying mechanisms will be useful in establishing a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of cyberbullying as a social issue.
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Traditional Bullying From A Sociological Perspective

Analysis of traditional bullying is crucial in understanding the notion of cyberbullying. ‘Traditional Bullying’ studies, that is the study of face to face bullying mainly occurring at school, has been initiated after three boys committed suicide in Norway. Psychology scholar Dan Olweus of Norway has been a pioneer in bullying studies and his initiative for bullying prevention received attention throughout the world (Neves & Pinheiro, 2010). Bullying may be “…defined as intentional behavior to harm another, repeatedly, where it is difficult for the victim to defend himself or herself. It assumes an imbalance of power” (Nilan et al., 2015, p. 1).

According to Snakenborg, Van Acker, & Gable (2011), there are basically three types of bullying behaviors: physical bullying, relational bullying and harassment. Physical bullying involves acts of inflicting physical harm such as “…hitting, kicking, pushing, or wrestling. Harassment is defined as verbal threats, taunting and name calling. Relational bullying negatively affects the social status of the victim by damaging friendships with peers directly through exclusion from a group or indirectly by the spreading of rumors…” (p. 89). Bullying includes acts such as excluding from activities, taking another person’s belongings, making the person do things she or he is unwilling to do. There is a wide range of behaviors that may be harmful to another person’s social, psychological or physical well-being and this makes bullying hard to identify. Bullying happens often (85%) when peers are present; making it an act of displaying social dominance (Beran, 2006). It usually occurs in casual social settings making it hard for teachers to separate bullying incidences from ‘teasing’ (Farrington, 1993) and from aggressive playful interaction (Snakenborg et al., 2011).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Symbolic Power: It is the power to define meaning for others and the ability to constitute the context for legitimate social categories.

Emphasized Femininity: Feminine identity defined within the context of patriarchal structures that is constituted to serve the interests and wills of men.

Social Capital: A form of capital that builds on, the relationship between the child and the parents, attention given by and the importance placed by parents on the child’s intellectual growth.

Hegemonic masculinity: Legitimate masculine identity defined within the context of patriarchal structures that, define the culturally accepted ways of being male/ masculine and dominate alternative forms of masculinity and all forms of femininity.

Bullying: Repetitive acts taken with the intent of inflicting harm to another person in situations where there is an imbalance of power.

Digital Cultural Capital: A form of capital that involves knowledge of the workings of technology and the socially acceptable ways of communication that take place in cyberspace.

Cyberbullying: The bullying acts that involve the use of new communications technology and take place in cyberspace.

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