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Bullying Differences and Similarities

I am aware that some people have a difficult time making a distinction between traditional bullying and cyberbullying, so let us discuss these aggression types and add clarification. I confess to being born in the late 70’s. When I was in grade school, the coolest advance in technology was the Boom Box (Google it) Walkie Talkie or the portable cassette player with earphones. Pictures were taken on portable cameras, either using a polaroid camera or captured on a roll of film. Cell phones did not exist and call waiting had not been invented yet. The number of kids per class were approximately 25, there were a few hundred kids on campus and the number of bullies on campus seemed quite minimal. The school-yard bully seemed like a kid’s worst nightmare. This type of bully generally victimized others by teasing, threatening, belittling, committing acts of physical violence, vandalizing, taking personal items by force or coercion. We will call this bully, the Traditional Bully. The Traditional Bully would usually carry out these aggressions on school property, buses, bus stops or school sponsored events. The number of victims that the Traditional Bully would interact with was limited to those within a physical proximity of the Traditional Bully and his minions.

There were usually physical signs of the Traditional Bully’s activities. School administration and teachers clearly understood their powers and authority to punish an aggressor. Victims were often told to stand up to the Traditional Bully. A physical confrontation was usually a one on one encounter between victim and aggressor. When I think of this Traditional Bully, I think of Nelson from The Simpson’s cartoon. While I assure you that the Nelson’s of the world have not disappeared, now there is a second type of bully. The extremely dangerous, cyberbully. How can you distinguish the differences between the Traditional Bully and a cyberbully?
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology to harass, threaten, intimidate, humiliate, and target victims. Cyberbullying is basically the electronic version of bullying. It occurs when an individual engages in bullying through the use of any electronic communication device, including a phone, computer, camera, e-mail, instant message, text message, chat room, social media, website or other form of electronic communication. Cyberbullies can be obvious, remain anonymous, create fake profiles, and can strike at all hours of the day and night on multiple platforms. With minimal effort, they can threaten, taunt, harass and humiliate their target, causing severe emotional distress that, in some instances, bullying has even led to suicide.

Some examples of cyberbullying could include:

  • Social circle shaming victims for having low numbers of social media follow or likes.
  • Sending viscous text messages.
  • Spreading rumors or gossip by posting it to social networking sites.
  • Taking and sending embarrassing pictures or videos without permission.
  • Creating a fake profile and pretending to be the victim.
  • Sending harassing emails or instant messages.Sending messages or images that disappear after the victim receives them.

Here, there are limited to no physical signs of the cyberbullying activities, although there may be physical and psychological responses. The responses include, but are not limited to depression, anxiety, aggression, low self-esteem, lack of sleep or feeling overly exhausted, stomach aches, headaches, bedwetting, and other stress induced reactions. These are some signs parents and teachers may observe that indicate a child is the victim of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying attacks are often gang attacks, where each person who views, likes, or comments on a cyberbullies social media post can be perceived as an additional attack on the intended victim.

While we have identified some differences between bullying and cyberbullying, there are some common impacts between them. Being bullied increases cortisol levels – a stress hormone – in the body, which typically happens after a stressful event. Stress from bullying can impact the immune system and hormones. Imaging studies show that brain activity and functioning can be affected by bullying, which may help explain the behavior of children who have been bullied. Research has consistently shown that bullying can have a negative impact on how well children and adolescents do in school. It has a negative impact on both grades and standardized test scores starting as early as kindergarten and continuing through high school. According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide is the second leading cause of death for American teenagers and young adults. “Bullying is a risk factor for depression and thinking about suicide. Children who bully others, are bullied, or both bully and are bullied are more likely to think about or attempt suicide than those who are not involved in bullying at all.”

What I take from this information is that bullying of all types has a significant impact on the aggressors. While Traditional Bullying is an activity that is easier to identify, cyberbullying may be deadlier, in part, because of its silent methods. Bullying of all types is a problem not only for local communities, states, nations, but a global problem. Hopefully being able to identify and help the victims will reduce the incidents of aggressors.

Posted by on 9 Nov 2020