By: CAMH Thursday, February 7, 2013
To kick-off Psychology Month, CAMH hosted a forum on cyberbullying with Senior Scientist Dr. David Wolfe and Toronto Police Constable Daniel LeClerc. The forum explored the nature of cyberbullying, its harmful impact, and ways to prevent it.
What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is covert, psychological bullying that occurs through electronic media including cell phones, weblogs and websites, online chat rooms and multi-user domains, such as social networking channels like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.
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The key facts on cyberbullying:
- At least one in five students is the victim of cyberbullying, but the proportion is likely higher.
- Most students say they either know somebody who has been cyberbullied or have witnessed it themselves.
- Girls are more likely to be cyberbullied than boys.
- Less than half of all victims tell an adult.
- LGBT students are much more likely to be bullied and cyberbullied than others.
How is cyberbullying different?
As Dr. Wolfe explained, “what makes cyberbullying particularly disconcerting is that it encompasses not only its similarities with traditional bullying, but the differences as well.”
Similarities include an imbalance of power in the relationship, the intent and threats of physical harm, social and emotional damage, and the repeated nature of the harassment. The differences outlined by Dr. Wolfe shed light on the covert nature of cyberbullying. Anonymity, increased disinhibition online, lack of supervision online and the viral nature and permanence of digital communications make cyberbullying particularly challenging to monitor or prevent.
Because cyberbullying takes place online, it is nearly impossible for young people to escape. The home is no longer a sanctuary from bullies in the school yard. “Before bullies could not come into the home, but now cyberbullies can,” said Dr. Wolfe.
The outcomes of cyberbullying
Research shows that victims of cyberbullying report higher levels of depression than victims physical, verbal and relational bullying. They are also two times more likely to have attempted suicide.