Cyber bullying is a term used to define recurrent and sustained verbal and/or physical attacks by one or more children towards another child who is unable or unwilling to deescalate the engagement using information and communication technology. Like classic bullying, cyber bullying is harmful, repeated and hostile behavior intended to deprecate and disparage a targeted child.
Bullying use to be confined to schools, neighborhoods or some small geographic location that the bullied child could leave and seek respite. With cyber bullying, the target child has no escape from the taunting and harassment afforded by the internet and mobile digital technology. Given the variety of methodologies cyber bullies use, which continues to expand, provided below are the ten most common.
1. Exclusion: Exclusion is a cyber bullying tactic that is highly effective and indirectly sends a provocative message to the target child without the need for actual verbal deprecation. As its well-known children and teens are developmentally fixated on being recognized by their peers, the process of designating who is a member of the peer group and who is not included can be devastating to the target child.
2. Flaming: Flaming is a term describing an online passionate argument that frequently includes profane or vulgar language, that typically occurs in public communication environments for peer bystanders to witness including discussion boards and groups, chatrooms and newsgroups. Flaming may have features of a normal message, but its intent if designed differently.
3. Outing: Outing is a term that includes the public display, posting, or forwarding of personal communication or images by the cyber bully personal to the target child. Outing becomes even more detrimental to the target child when the communications posted and displayed publicly contains sensitive personal information or images that are sexual in nature.
4. E-mail Threats and Dissemination: E-mail Threats and Dissemination is a cyber bully tactic used to inspire fear in the target child and then informing other members in the peer group of the alleged threat. The cyber bully sends a threatening e-mail to the target child and then forwards or copy & pastes the threatening message to others of the implied threat.
5. Harassment: Harassment is sending hurtful messages to the target child that is worded in a severe, persistent or pervasive manner causing the respondent undue concern. These threatening messages are hurtful, frequent and very serious. Although sending constant and endless hurtful and insulting messages to someone may be included in cyber stalking, the implied threats in harassment does not lead the target child to believe the potential exists the cyber bully may actually be engaged in offline stalking of the target child.
6. Phishing: Phishing is a cyber bully tactic that requires tricking, persuading or manipulating the target child into revealing personal and/or financial information about themselves and/or their loved ones. Once the cyber bully acquires this information, they begin to use the information to access their profiles if it may be the target child’s password, purchasing unauthorized items with the target child’s or parents credit cards.
7. Impersonation: Impersonation or “imping” as a tactic in cyber bullying can only occur with the “veil of anonymity” offered by digital technology. Cyber bullies impersonate the target child and make unpopular online comments on social networking sites and in chat rooms. Using impersonation, cyber bullies set up websites that include vitriolic information leading to the target child being ostracized or victimized in more classic bullying ways.
8. Denigration: Denigration is used in both classic and cyber bullying, denigration is a term used to describe when cyber bullies send, post or publish cruel rumors, gossip and untrue statements about a target child to intentionally damage their reputation or friendships. Also known as “dissing,” this cyber bullying method is a common element and layer involved in most all of the cyber bullying tactics listed.
9. E-mail and Cell Phone Image Dissemination: Not only a tactic used in cyber bullying, but a form of information exchange that can be a criminal act if the images are pornographic or graphic enough depicting under aged children. Children can receive images directly on their phones and then send them to everyone in their address books. Of all cyber bullying methods, this tactic, which serves to embarrass a target child, can lead to serious criminal charges.
10. Images and Videos: Briefly described in Happy Slapping, the usage of images and video recording has become a growing concern that many communities, law enforcement agencies and schools are taking seriously. Due in part to the prevalence and accessibility of camera cell phones, photographs and videos of unsuspecting victims or the target child, taken in bathrooms, locker rooms or in other compromising situations, are being distributed electronically. Some images and videos are emailed to peers, while others are published on video sites.