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Bullying has always been a part of society. With the inception of the internet, it was only a matter of time until bullies found their way on to this new and opportunistic medium. With services like email and instant messenger, bullies became able to do their nasty deeds with anonymity and great distance between them and their targets. There are some key differences, however, between traditional bullying and cyber bullying. On this page, the differences between the two will clearly defined. Legislation that has been created to protect against cyber bullying, court cases and rulings dealing with cyber bullying, research done on cyber bullying, and negative effects and impacts of cyber bullying will be discussed as well.
According to Bill Belsey, the President of www.bullying.organd www.cyberbullying.org, cyber bullying is defined as bullying that “involves the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group that is intended to harm others.” The National Crime Prevention council adds that cyber bullying is "when the Internet, cell phones or other devices are used to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person." One common example of cyber bullying is posting embarrassing information about someone on the internet, such as saying something about someone on Facebook, or putting an embarrassing picture on Myspace. There are also times cyber bullies post personal information about their victim, such as address, phone number, etc., while pretending to be the victim, and post information about them that would defame or embarrass them.
The main factor that separates cyber bullying from traditional bullying is the effect it has on the victim. Traditional bullying may end in physical damage as well as emotional and psychological damage, as opposed to cyber bullying, where it is all emotional and psychological. Traditional bullies are known for beating kids up on the playground and stealing their lunch money. Cyber bullies are all about verbal ridicule to the point that can affect that person’s social abilities. Most of the time, traditional bullying is limited to children and young adults, whereas cyber bullying can encompass all ages. More negative effects will be discussed later.
There can be some misconceptions about the difference between cyber bullying and cyber stalking. Cyber stalking is often based on sex, and involves harassing the person, via electronic means, repeatedly. This is the main point that differentiates the two. Repeated harassment constitutes cyber stalking, especially when the harassment includes threats about a person’s safety, reputation, or employment. The often do this by vandalizing search engines or online encyclopedias. Example differentiating the two would be as follows: If someone makes an edit to a Wikipedia page and includes someone else’s name and posts embarrassing information, it is cyber bullying. If they do it repeatedly to multiple pages, and re-edit pages that the moderators at Wikipedia change, it is cyber stalking.