History of Cyberbullying

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  • 0:00 What Is Cyberbullying?
  • 0:51 History of Bullying
  • 1:27 Bullying on the Web
  • 2:53 Legal Cases
  • 3:48 Advocates for Victims
  • 4:57 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Alicia Taylor

Alicia has taught students of all ages and has a master's degree in Education

This lesson goes over the history of cyberbullying, from its origins in traditional bullying to laws written since the beginning of cyberbullying to the advocacy groups that exist for victims.

What Is Cyberbullying?

Imagine logging into your own Facebook account only to discover that someone has made another fake account that says it belongs to you. It's full of inappropriate pictures with your face Photoshopped in, and it says all sorts of lies about you. Worst of all, the owners of the page invited all of your peers to be friends, and sent out a message saying to ignore the other account in your name (your real one) since it's been hacked.

It's not a hypothetical situation. It's called cyberbullying, and it's the deliberate effort to cause physical, emotional, or psychological harm to another person using technology. One in four American kids have been cyberbullied, some beginning as early as second grade. Where did cyberbullying come from and how can we prevent it?

History of Bullying

Unfortunately, bullying, the deliberate effort to cause physical, emotional, or psychological harm to a peer, has been a part of school life for centuries. The first person to research bullying academically, Dan Olweus, created a prevention program in the 1980s, which proved effective in limiting the effects of bullying by improving the school environment.

Over the last 35 years, programs such as the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program have been pioneered throughout the world. Governments and school administrations have begun implementing programs to educate students and teachers.

Bullying on the Web

However, as the effort to stamp out bullying has increased, the resources kids can use to bully have grown as well. Chat rooms, forums, and other early social media sites became the turf of cyberbullies in the 1990s.

When those using public internet spaces urged moderators to keep cyberbullying under control, bullies moved to private forms of online communication. Emails and instant messages, often anonymous, were used to insult and belittle others. In the early 2000s, teens gained cell phones and social media accounts, offering more routes for the cyberbully.

Who are these bullies? Although some suggest that cyberbullies are often the victims of face-to-face bullies seeking anonymous revenge, the research paints a simpler picture. The numbers suggest that cyberbullies are usually traditional bullies, kids that trouble peers face-to-face, as well. However, the media they use allow them to reach beyond their traditional methods.

While a victim of traditional bullying used to be able to escape inside the walls of their house, with the internet there is no escape. When the victim looks at Facebook or checks their phone, they are vulnerable to attack. Bullies may create false profiles of victims, share false or private photos, write threatening and anonymous messages, use online polls to shame victims, text incessantly and unkindly, or tag people in photos they would not wish to see.

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