- Strain as the actual or anticipated removal of positively valued stimuli and
- Strain as the actual or anticipated presentation of negatively valued stimuli
In all the scenarios, strain is responsible for creating a negative scenario, while at the same time removing all the hopes for positive goals amongst the youths. In other words, there is nothing good about strain and it can negatively impact on the behaviour of the victims in the long run if they do not get proper counselling.
In most of the cases, the victims of Cyberbullying often fear for their safety offline since they would be scared that they might be followed by their tormentors. In the end, it can be observed that this feeling can continue to torment them such that they can ultimately develop deviant behaviour. This is mainly as a result of the fact that, they would be feeling rejected in the society and excluded as well. These stressful feelings can lead to behavioural ill-effects amongst the students who are victimized of Cyberbullying.
According to Price & Dalgleish (2010), “Cyberbullying impacts the well-being, schooling, and peer & family relationships of many young people.” At school the victims often feel severely threatened such that they would live in constant fear. They are scared that they can be attacked by the bullies. Hence, we always find them on the guard against such unprecedented moves. It negatively impacts on the academic performance of the victims since they may not be able to concentrate on their studies (Ybarra, Diener-West, & Leaf, 2007).
Usually, it is quite difficult for the individuals to concentrate on their studies if they do not have peace of mind. Their minds would be wandering such that they cannot properly concentrate on their education. Family and peer relationships are also impacted negatively among the victims of Cyberbullying (Long, 1997). These people often feel withdrawn and they do not like to socialize with their peers or family members. This often leads the victims to lead quite and solitary lives. Further, it has a negative impact on their psychological development.
It has been noted that, victims of Cyberbullying experience trauma, and hence even think of committing suicides under such circumstances. It is, therefore, important to counsel them so as to assist them in living normal lives. Price & Dalgleish (2010, p. 2) state that, “Data obtained from Kids Helpline has indicated that, young people impacted by Cyberbullying may be more likely to experience a suicidal behaviour as a reaction to Cyberbullying than those who experience traditional bullying (Evren, Kural, & Cakmak, 2006).” They might think of committing suicides in order to end all of their problems.
The impacts of Cyberbullying are far reaching, such that the victims often contemplate killing themselves since they often feel helpless against their tormentors. Some youth often fail to cope up with the impact of Cyberbullying since they will feel as if they are being followed every time or being monitored by unseen people. In the end, they would contemplate committing suicide as the only way of escaping from the trap they would find themselves in (Kaufman & Crawford, 2011). Students that lack adequate counselling might think of ending their lives, which according to them can be the best solution in a given scenario.
Implications for School Counsellors, Teachers, and Parents
We have, thus, observed that, there are several negative consequences of Cyberbullying, from the psychological, emotional, and social perspective. It is, thereby, having many implications for the School Counsellors, Teachers, the School Management, and the Parents.
The school staff and specifically the school teachers or counselors are responsible for playing their role in the best manner to help each of the students to learn the positive aspects of life. First thing, which is important regarding the awareness creation about the Cyberbullying is that, the school counsellors and teachers need to understand the fact that Cyberbullying is a notorious thing and can spread amongst the students in a given environment easily. The research in this regard indicates about the fact that, teachers usually do not understand the severity and sensitiveness of the problems that can result due to the Cyberbullying attempts made at the school using Information Technology (Bradshaw, Sawyer, & O’Brennan, 2007).
The unawareness of the teachers with such an important vulnerability and virtual threat, which can affect any student or even the teachers, is a serious concern for the school management at the first place and for the government officials at the second place. Both need to take adequate actions in order to generate the importance of the issues associated with the Cyberbullying. They need to implement adequate policies and procedures in place to ensure positive results in terms of tackling with Cyberbullying (Appelbaum & Swanson, 2010).
The school administrators must become an agent of change by adapting an adequate approach of spreading awareness about the negative impacts and consequences of Cyberbullying for the individuals and the entire society. This word needs to be spread to many concerned individuals within the vicinity of the school and even within the society so that people would start learning about the important of this unnoticeable issue. Such effort needs to be reflected in an adequate manner in terms of training programs, workshops and blogging, adequately for the convenience of common masses and specially, parents of the students to get aware of the severity of this problem (DeHue, Bolman, & Völlink, 2008).
Once awareness about the Cyberbullying is spread among the school staff, counsellors, teachers, and parents, it would be easy to prepare a ground for devising certain solutions that can be implemented for the prevention of Cyberbullying. These programs can be initiated by the school administration with the co-operation of concerned governmental authorities.
All the preventive measures must be taken to ensure online security of every concerned professional or staff member at the school and the students must be taught the negative consequences of Cyberbullying, which can negatively affect their lives. The parents of the students should also be contacted, and they should also be provided the relevant helpful material and policy guidelines devised by the school administration in order to counter-attack the problem of Cyberbullying (Peak & Glensor, 2012).
Different studies have indicated that the teachers play a pivotal role in addressing the problem of Cyberbullying. According to Sabella, Patchin, & Hinduja (2012), educators and counsellors need to take a multidisciplinary approach when dealing with the problem of Cyberbullying. They need to have comprehensive knowledge of Cyberbullying particularly its causes, impacts on the victims and, the measures that can be implemented in order to address the problem. The following measures ought to be taken into consideration by the teachers when trying to solve the problem related to
- Preparing a guidance curriculum
- Organizing individual and group counselling
- Providing education to all the parents and students on Cyberbullying and spreading awareness
- Initiating advocacy programs for the victims
- Establishing Parent-teacher consultation
- Creating referrals to other support centres that deal with similar issues
The school counsellors should also try to mobilize support from other adults so that they may be in a position to address this particular problem. A holistic approach should be taken in these cases, and it should involve different people since this problem does not only affect the victims but can affect their families too.
The counsellors should also display the willingness to listen to the students who have become the victims of Cyberbullying (Garland, 2001). By virtue of displaying positive behaviour towards them, the school counsellors would be in a position to create a positive behaviour amongst the students so that they can openly discuss the problem of Cyberbullying with them.
It will also help to encourage the students to report the cases of Cyberbullying that have occurred either within the school premises or have occurred in the external environment. Open communication between the counsellors and the students is vital since it helps to create a mutual trust between the two entities (Venkatesh, 1997).
The teachers should encourage the parents to discuss with their children about any issues related to Cyberbullying and they should encourage them to open up whenever they are bullied. More importantly, the teachers need to build knowledge about Cyberbullying and they should be proactive when dealing with such a problem.
Collaboration with Parents
In the present world, children act as a teacher to their parents when the topic is technology. A digital generation gap has been created amongst the parents and children, which often creates roadblocks in ensuring child’s safety while using the electronic devices. On one hand, parents consider Information Technology as a practical tool, while the children consider it as an assistance that helps them to connect with their friends (Dzikus & Ochola, 1996). However, the children are unaware of the negative usage of such Information Technology. They, thereby, become the victims of Cyberbullying, out of the knowledge of their parents.
Hence, it is equally important to address and subsequently decrease the gap through proper counseling and training sessions (Dooley, Pyżalski, & Cross, 2009). A child needs to be taught that excessive usage of any technological device or technique is dangerous. It is only through partnership between the schools and families a safety net of trust and security will be built. It will thereby ensure the safety of the students against Cyberbullying in a given environment.
Vulnerability of Cyberbullying
The vulnerability and danger of Cyberbullying attempts is considered as a noticeable fact by the concerned people at any time round the clock. But, the Cyberbullying attempts are more likely to happen at the school timings when the students are attending the school. The research indicates a fact that, the victims of Cyberbullying face difficulties during their normal education at the school and during social interactions (Erdur-Baker, 2010). Their lives at home also seem to get affected due to the negative effects of Cyberbullying.
However, it is also noted that, Cyberbullying culprits are also affected negatively by their activities and they face problems in the social interactions. Their behavior becomes unacceptable by the society as they tend to adapt any negative form of activity during their real lives to fulfill their desire and needs. This is a big loss for the entire society and for that individual as he or she would not be able to live a normal life. These individuals are more likely to be indulged in unwanted criminal activities, utilization of drugs and excessive usage of alcohol (Mishna, Saini, & Solomon, 2009). These individuals need counseling and help from the experts who can train them and make their mind-set and behavior positive so that they also can live a normal life. I would now, like to provide recommendations to the school counselors, teachers, parents, and other supporting officials regarding how to prevent the activities of Cyberbullying.
Recommendations for preventing cyber bullying
One of the researches has found that, the incidences of bullying in schools have reduced due to following four policy implementations:
Awareness of the problem is one of the first steps in any of the prevention programs. The denial that bullying is present in schools is one of the reasons why there is a difficulty with the prevention of bullying (Besag, 1989). The teaching staff needs to understand Cyberbullying and its consequences so that they can take precautionary measures to prevent such activities within the school premises. Even, parents need to recognize Cyberbullying methods, wherein students will be texting on mobile phones under the bedcovers in the middle of the night, or will be sending hurtful emails from the computer in their bedroom. Parents and teachers, thereby, need to have an interactive discussion about Cyberbullying with their children and students respectively (Walklate, 2003).
Bullying may be reduced if the management staffs at the school keep a close observation on what might be considered as bullying. Teachers need to be aware that even with the technology, bullying can happen. They should step-up and intervene in any of the suspected incidents. Because of the need for protection from pornography, teachers are already familiar of their duty of care toward the students (Kerawalla & Crook, 2002). Parent need to play a greater role in the supervision of their children. They might find this difficult, because of the “digital generation gap” they have with them. They are struggling to develop strategies to manage technologies. But, it seems that while they are implementing their counter-attack strategies, their children are planning on things, which will off-track the parents (Ribak, 2001).
Whole School Policies
Whole school policies have been shown to be effective in the reduction of Cyberbullying. This is in fact the most effective action a school can take (Smith & Sharp, 1994). A policy should be implemented as per the needs of the schools. The different schools should not imitate each other, as the environment and the nature of the students studying in such schools will be different. The policy is just as important as the process of making it. At this juncture, taking into consideration the needs of their students is very much important. The implementation of these policies should be transparent so as to avoid the incidents of Cyberbullying.
Intervention among schools
Intervention is one of the first reactions of the management authority, counselors, teachers as well as parents, to give cyber bullies what they deserve. But these actions won’t be a success, if the victims do not help themselves. Adults may think that, what they are experiencing might be trivial, and hence, would suggest brushing it off as normal occurrences in schools. They do not open up to adults thinking it may cause them harm and embarrassment (Rigby, 1997). Cyber bullied students fear that, their parents will deny them from utilizing any of the technological means and devices such as mobile phones and computer systems. This is a key factor, due to which, the victims refrain from reporting Cyberbullying to their parents. In a report study of the U.S. government, nearly 30% of cyber bullied students never told anyone about their situation.
Schools and parents can do many things to intensify the likelihood of reporting these abuses. The first is to take the reports seriously and not to treat them as petty whining of the students. The report should be in secrecy to protect the victim and the adults should participate in resolving the problem without jumping into punishment right away (Cauffman, 2008). There should be clear understanding of what will happen after the reports are made. The welfare of the students should be properly taken care of.
It is recommended that the teachers and counsellors should have comprehensive knowledge about Cyberbullying in order to understand the process and its consequences. In some of the cases, the teachers that lack proper understanding of this new form of Cyberbullying may overlook it as something that is too general and not a threat to the students. Hence, it is important to train them and provide them with sufficient knowledge on technological means and techniques (Bartol & Bartol, 2009).
It is also recommended that, the teachers should provide information to the students on the basic security measures they can implement when communicating using electronic means. For instance, the teachers and counsellors should teach the students about the significance of passwords as well as informing other people in the event that they have received suspicious messages.
It is recommended that the students that are prone to Cyberbullying should avoid responding to text or email messages from unknown people. This is the best remedy since the victim will not be affected by Cyberbullying in any way. It helps to bar the cyber bullies from abusing the targeted victims. In such cases, the culprits will get frustrated and ultimately will stop such activities (Manuel, 2008).
It is further recommended that, the victims should block unknown numbers on their cell phones. This means that access to them by unknown people will be denied. It will thus help them to get secured from infringement of their privacy by strangers. The students should also avoid responding to spam emails since this can expose them to Cyberbullying by unknown people.
Anything ‘new’ that is discovered as a result of this research
The facts, the statistics, and the end-results of several researches have already been presented in this paper. I would now like to focus upon the strategies, which the teachers and schooling authorities should adopt against all the types of Cyberbullying activities. This is not something new for this topic, but I would like to go into depth of the solutions, which can be considered to be something new for this research. We know that, the violent activities can happen at any place within the school environment, and in some cases, it can even occur outside the school premises. But, since majority of the cases are found to be occurring within the given education setting, the influence of teachers and other schooling staff will be profound (Lawrence & Land, 1987).
Hence, teachers should formulate strategies for identifying the signs of Cyberbullying, and should also be equipped with certain actions, for helping the victims. They need to identify the signs of Cyberbullying within the school as described below:
- Lower academic performance
- Complaints of feeling unwell
They should thereby help the students by providing necessary assistance in many ways. These include – building their self-esteem, encouraging students to report the incidents of Cyberbullying, and advocate for them. They can demonstrate examples of healthy relationships by encouraging healthy student interactions. They need to make them acknowledge the positive attitudes and behaviors, and thereby establish a code of conduct (Renold, 2003). Even, the school management can frame laws that will take serious actions against the students that are found to be involved in the Cyberbullying incidents. It will thereby, help the school management in eradicating the issues, problems, and cases of Cyberbullying.
Research method that I shall use if I were to continue to research this topic
I would like to opt for Quantitative Research Method, by carrying out the survey and group discussions amongst the students of the school. I shall provide them with a set of questions, through which I will be able to know, what the true causes of Cyberbullying incidents amongst them are. During the group discussion, I shall also involve their parents so that they can also come to know the reasons of such occurrence amongst their children in any given school. I would like to address the governmental and regulatory bodies to ensure that all the anti-bullying laws are implemented in all the schools. They need to ensure that no Cyberbullying activity shall ever happen in any of the schools under their supervision (John & Levitt, 2001). I would like to take the opinions of certain researchers in finding out the true solutions of this problem.
I would also like to organize a school conference day, during which I would like to address the bully and the victim of these incidents. They need to know about the consequences of such incidents. I would also like to organize awareness programs as a part of my research. I would then like to measure the decrease in the number of Cyberbullying incidents so that I can conclude on something on rationale basis. I would finally like to recommend improving the communication amongst all the entities of the school, including students. They need to be taught cooperative learning activities, which will help the bullies to control their anger and help the victims in many other ways (Rodriguez, 2005).
In today’s contemporary world, technology has become an indispensible part of our day-to-day life. It has formed the most dominant force in the online social life of every individual. According to the study, Cyberbullying is carried out by the children as they have early access to these technologies. It is mainly done with the motive of harming another person (Shariff, 2008). The main problem with Cyberbullying is that, the true identity of the person performing the activity is hidden. It thus, becomes very much difficult to trace the source. As a result, it would encourage people to commit this crime, which else would not have been committed on face-to-face meetings (Vandebosch & Van Cleemput, 2008).
With the increase in Cyberbullying in such an exponential rate, parents and teachers are becoming vigilant to save their children from such kind of threat or trauma. Adults are fast upgrading their technical knowledge to keep an eye on their young one’s activities and to prevent them from falling prey to this kind of Cyberbullying. By keeping a close observation of what the students are doing and restricting them from any Cyberbullying activities would help in reducing the rate of this crime to a greater extent.
Research has shown that Cyberbullying is a new kind of bullying that is different from traditional bullying (Fazel & Grann, 2006). Electronic means of communication can be used to bully other students and these usually take the form of text messages and emails. The improved communication system through the use of electronic media has made it possible for other unscrupulous people to invade other people’s privacy, particularly students.
Quite a lot of things happen outside schools and these have implications on the welfare of the affected students. Different studies have found that the victims of Cyberbullying often experience feelings that reflect sadness, anxiety, aggressiveness and disturbance in the emotional behavior. The victims often feel threatened and they feel insecure as a result of the fear of being attacked by the bullies. As such, even their performance in the school can be impacted negatively. There are different measures that can be taken into consideration in order to address the emerging form of Cyberbullying amongst the students (Nevid, 2013).
Apart from educating the teens about these attempts would also help to stop many of them from getting into these kinds of problems altogether (Wang, Iannotti, & Nansel, 2009). Educating teens of their limits and responsibilities for using technology wisely would have a better result on their future.
An instant action should be taken against the culprits of Cyberbullying, wherein the victims have faced severe harm and harassments. The respective authorities should take severe steps so that such incidents do not get repeated in the future. A friendly discussion about the critical situation with the victim would help them overcome their depression. Schools can implement system-wide and classroom-level interventions, which will focus upon changing attitudes and behaviors (Dooley, Pyzalski, & Cross, 2009). Education and spreading awareness amongst the students, is the key in effectively preventing and responding to the Cyberbullying.
Research should focus on what are the usage of social networking sites amongst the children and find their trends that can give rise to Cyberbullying. The school management should include a subject Cyberbullying. It will teach the students the causes of Cyberbullying, the process of Cyberbullying, and how the students are getting victimized of such incidents. However, it should also provide the preventive measures so as to overcome Cyberbullying (Barlow & Mark, 2006).
Every new object is invented with the motive of helping mankind but humans can use the same object as a weapon, if no proper education is provided. Hence, to conclude we can say that there will always be new technology that can harm others. It is, therefore, important for the parents, teachers, school counselors, and other concerned authorities to spread awareness on Cyberbullying. They need to join hands and work in a collaborative fashion so as to protect their children and students against any kind of attack of Cyberbullying.
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Figure – 1: Cyberbullying by Race