Cyber-bullying is obviously a very loaded issue, one with
contextual associations wherever the word has applications. While my assignment will ultimately detail the ways in which bullying has adapted and evolved within a world dominated by social media, I also wanted to take the time to discuss the ways in which the ethics behind bullying and researching bullying have changed to meet the unique challenges that a predominately online world poses to those looking to reduce instances of physical or psychological torment.
The fact is, the ethics behind bullying have changed greatly
since the inception of social media and constant online interaction. Where bullying used to be isolated incidents that occurred strictly in-person, now torment can take place on a digital plane that both invites more viewers to witness it and more people to jump in and contribute to the issue. Previously, people believed that recurrent emotional problems predicated who would be picked on or bullied in the first place, but now that bullying has become so much more visible it has been discovered that the only thing previous problems predict are the increased likelihood of further emotional problems in the future (Bond, 2001, n.p.). Of course, this data is only recently becoming more concrete and readily available – the online world has done wonders for researchers looking to increase their comprehension on both the behaviours that incite bullying as well as those that come hand-in-hand with it. The sudden prevalence of social media has also enabled researchers to say, with confidence, that the prevalence of bullying among the youth in North America is both substantial and merits a drastic increase in the attention and prevention measures given towards it (Nansel et al., 2001, p. 2096).
( http://blogs.longwood.edu/wilson305/files/2014/09/bullying2.png) (Attribute image to National Voices for Equality Education and Enlightement)
Unfortunately, the ethics behind education on cyberbullying
have been lagging behind the slow growth of online abuse itself. The statistics and research that has emerged has been useful, but it has been employed by various organizations dedicated to the end of cyberbullying as reactionary measures rather than pre-emptive ones. For instance, the popular website Internet Safety 101 http://www.internetsafety101.org/cyberbullyingsafety.htm, which has long been a source of information on cyberbullying for adults, offers a number of tips and tricks for parents worried about their children’s safety online. However, none of this advice actually offers long-term solutions – just overly-strict parenting methods or ways to cope with cyberbullying once it’s already occurred (Internet Safety 101, 2015, n.p.). As such, it remains clear that an examination of ethics regarding cyberbullying as a whole is required – how do we, as a society, prioritize the ways in which we engage with cyberbullying? Why do we value reactionary measures rather than preventative ones? In doing so, what kind of ethics have we established for ourselves as individuals in regards to our stance on physical or mental harm? These are tough questions to answer, but the introspection required is also another step towards a more educated population that is less susceptible to cyberbullying.
Bond, L. (2001). Does bullying cause emotional problems? A prospective study of young teenagers. BMJ, 323(1), 1-5.
Internet Safety 101. (2015). Cyberbullying safety tips. *Internet Safety 101*. Retrieved from http://www.internetsafety101.org/cyberbullyingsafety.htm.
Nansel, T.R.; Overpeck, M.; Pilla, R.S.; Ruan, W.J.; Simons-Morton, B.; & Scheidt, P. (2001). Bullying behaviors among US youth: Prevalence and association with psychosocial adjustment. JAMA, 285(16), 2131-2132.