Black letters flash across the screen, launching an attack of rumors and insults. A text, a Facebook wall post, a blog– a line or two is all it takes to wound someone's self-esteem, to bring tears, to ruin a relationship. With the outburst of modern technology, old-school bullying is out and a new type of bullying has arrived. But while stuffing someone in a locker is an obvious sign of harassment, with no bruises or bloody noses as evidence of abuse, cyber-bullying often doesn't raise alarms until it's too late. While bullying may have an effect on teens, how does cyberbullying have an effect a victim?
Bullying online can harass, threaten, and infringe on a victims personal life not only in the schools but in the comfort of their own home. Cyberbullying is the new trend that follows children where ever they are. This type of bullying can be defined as tormenting a child through technology and communication tools such as cell phones, computers, chat rooms, Facebook and YouTube.
Cyberbullying is put into two categories: Synchronic (real time) and Asynchronic (delayed). Synchronic is "live" bullying. This type of bullying is instant, it happens when both the offender and victim are online at the same time. Synchronic bullying utilizes: chat rooms, texting and instant messaging.
Amanda Todd, a 15 year old girl, used video chat to meet new people and received compliments about her looks. A stranger that she met on the video chat convinced Todd to expose her breast and blackmailed Amanda with threats that if she did not give him a “show” he would expose the topless photo to her friends. When she moved away to live with her mom the police informed her that the photo was circulating on the internet. Todd turned to drugs and alcohol due to the anxiety and panic disorder from the experience. The stranger created a Facebook page with the topless photo as his profile picture and started to contact classmates at her new school. Amanda began talking to an old guy friend that invited her over to his house and had sex with each other while his girlfriend was gone. The friend’s girlfriend and a group of others attacked Todd at school, shouting insults and beating her to the ground.
After the attack, Amanda attempted suicide by drinking bleach, but survived after getting her stomach pumped. Todd commented in her video, “It killed me inside and I thought I actually was going to die.” After returning home from the hospital, Amanda received abusive messages about her failed suicide on Facebook. Her family moved to a different city to start fresh, but the stranger acted like a new student at the same school and would become friends with others on Facebook and sent the video that Amanda made to students and teachers. Todd’s mental state kept worsening and began to engage in self-mutilation. On October 10, 2012 Amanda was found hung in her room.
Ryan Halligan’s story is another example of synchronic bullying. A 13 year old boy that committed suicide after being bullied from classmates at school and online. Ryan suffered bullying at the hands of a group of students at his school because of a learning disorder. Halligan got into a fight with the bully that was broken up by the principle, after that the bully stopped bother Ryan.
Towards the end of his 7th grade year, Ryan and the bully became friends until Halligan told the boy about an embarrassing examination that was required after he had stomach pains. Ryan then learned that the bully misused the story to start a rumor that Ryan was gay.
In the summer of 2003, Ryan spent a lot of time on AIM; an instant messaging service. He was being cyberbullied by classmates who taunted him, accusing him of being gay. Ryan was instant messaging a popular girl he had a crush on that was pretending to like him. The next day at school the girl told him he was a loser. Come to find out that she was only instant messaging him to get personal…