Global, social and ethical analysis on cyber bullying
|Cyber Bullying, Communication, Computer Science, Cyber Security, Ethics, Social Networking
Table of Contents
The present discussion is centered on cyber bullying. It occurs when an individual is harassed, threatened, embarrassed, or harmed by another person through the internet, mainly through the mobile phones or social media websites. The discussion commences by introducing the topic, and then offers a well-thought definition of the term cyber bullying. Following closely is the discussion on the global facts about cyber bullying. Then, the author expounds on how the social online menace is handled in the United States and the United Kingdom. A comprehensive discussion about the Unitarianism ethical theory is then presented. Lastly, the author gives a case example of how the theory can be applied.
Bullying is a serious contemporary problem that pervades the private and social lives of many youths making their existence miserable and sometimes leading to suicides. Importantly, bullying does not only take place in the real world, but also via the internet in a form termed as cyber bullying. This category of bullying transpires when an individual is harassed, threatened, embarrassed, or harmed by another person through the internet, mainly through the mobile phones or social media websites (Smith, 2012). Noteworthy, the ill-behaved act happens depending on the surrounding environment, town, suburbs, or learning institutions. This kind of bullying is most subjected to groups such as lesbians, bisexual, youths, gays, and people with disabilities. Cyber bullying is increasingly becoming a global problem that is proving difficult to curb. Markedly, the evolution of cyber ethics has however helped internet users realize the type of online acts that are acceptable (Stuckey, 2013). For these reasons, the researcher believes that it is paramount to educate internet users about cyber ethics to help curtail the menace.
The discussion is approached in a coherent manner. The writer commences by expounding more on the definition of the term cyber bullying. Then, elucidates about global statistical facts about the subject topic. In here, the writer compares data from different countries as reported by past studies. Importantly, a detailed investigation on how cyber bullying is handled in the USA and the UK is also conducted. Lastly, the discussion explores the Unitarianism ethical theory and how it can be applied in similar contexts.
Definition of Cyber Bullying
Prelude to the discussion, it is paramount to understand what cyber bullying exactly entails. According to Carpenter and Ferguson (2009), it is an intentional and repeated behavior conducted through social media and electronic communication devices (mostly mobile phones), that is intended to cause discomfort, harm, harassment, distress, or threat to another person. From the definition, there are two fundamental characteristics that are worth being highlighted. First, the ill-behaved act is intentional or rather willful in as much as the aim of the offender is to threaten or cause distress (Carpenter & Ferguson, 2009). Secondly, the action is repeated many times and seemingly without much provocation. Worth pointing out, disagreements are not classified as cyber bullying, as is the case in the real world. However, researchers have constantly differed in their views about when an incidence should truly be classified as cyber bullied. The figure 1.0 below illustrates some of the definitions that have been adopted in recent studies.
Figure 1.0. The bar-graph above shows the forms through which cyber bullying is believed to take place through. As noted, most of these acts are conducted via the email, internet chat room, and instant messages. Retrieved from https://swscmedia.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/cyberbullying-a-challenging-issue-for-the-21st-century-paper-by-prof-ian-rivers-part-of-our-cyberstudies-liminality-series/
Global Facts about Cyber Bullying
It is undoubted truth that cyber bullying is a global issue plaguing many teens. The issue has been on the rise due to the advancements in technology. According to the findings of a study conducted by Smith (2012) more than ten percent of parents around the globe reported that their child has ever being cyber bullied. The online poll involved more than 20, 000 adults in 25 countries of whom the majority of them were parents (Smith, 2012). The study also found that the action was most evident in social networking websites like Facebook. The respondents asserted that cyber bullying was different from other categories of provocation and warranted more attention and efforts from counselors, teachers, and parents (Myers et al., 2012). In Indonesia, ninety percent noted that they knew about the act. It was followed by Australia with 87 percent then trailed slightly behind by Sweden and Poland. In the United States, 82 percent contended that they had heard cases of teen-suicides that were directly linked to cyber bullying. What is intriguing is that only twenty-nine percent of the Saudi Arabia respondents and thirty-five percent in Russia alluded that they knew about the dreadful action. The figure 2.0 below summarizes the parent’s responses in regard to the question on whether they are cognizant of cyber bullying acts.
Figure 2.0. A table summarizing the parent’s responses on the question of whether they knew about cyber bullying acts. As noted above, the majority of parents in India, Indonesia, Canada, and Sweden observed that they were aware of cyber bullying activities in their country. However, some countries such as Saudi Arabia, Spain, and Italy reported low levels of knowledge about cyber bullying. Retrieved from < http://www.cbronline.com/management/cyberbullying-a-world-wide-problem-160112/>
Moreover, six out of ten of those interviewed observed that the social networking site such as Facebook was the top platform that was mostly used by teens to harass their colleagues. Importantly, Facebook was the site was singled out by many of the respondents (Pappas, 2015). However, four out of ten suggested that chat rooms and mobile phones were often used for threatening. Three out of ten held the view that email and instant messaging was often used while a few others noted other websites that were being used as platforms for harassments.
Global statistics reveal that only one out of ten harassed teens will report the issue to a parent, a teacher, or a trusted adult. Secondly, girls are twice more likely than boys to be perpetrators and victims of cyber bullying (Pappas, 2015). Thirdly, nearly 58 % of youths admit that someone has ever sent them harassing materials via a mobile device or through the internet. Fourthly, at least four out of ten of the victims have experienced cyber bullying more than once (Pappas, 2015). Researches have also found that about 70 percent of the teens have ever visited a website to bash out another student. Lastly, intimidated victims are 3 to 7 times more likely to contemplate on committing suicide.
How Cyber Bullying is handled in the USA and the UK
Important to point out is the fact that different countries have put in varying mechanisms to handle cyber bullying. In the United States, for example, cyber bullying is handled by both the state and the local laws. Markedly, 41 states out of 50 have laws implemented to handle cyber bullying. In fact, in some states, the online bullying falls under the criminal code and may apply even to the juveniles. Meanwhile, work place cyber bullying laws are clearly defined under the harassment laws. In the US, the conduct is pervasive or harsh enough to create a work place that an employee would be termed as abusive, hostile, or intimidating. Cyber bullying can encompass, but is not limited to slurs, threats, offensive jokes, images, mockery, intimidation, and name calling. The action is also illegal when used as retribution tool for testifying, filing a discriminatory suit, court proceedings or law charges. In many states, the employer is ostensibly liable for any threats that might occur to by a manager or supervisor, necessitating actions such as loss of wages, failure to hire, and termination.
In the United Kingdom, the law requires all state and independent schools to have anti bullying policies. However, in the UK, cyber bullying is not a criminal act, although there are a number of laws that can be applied if one has been harassed. For instance, the Telecommunication Act prohibits people from sending abusive texts and phone calls while the Protection Harassment Act protects citizens from any form of harassment. Noteworthy, these laws have been applied successfully in the past to arraign cyber bullying perpetrators. Besides, in the work place, there are comprehensive laws criminalizing harassments against worker’s age, disability, pregnancy, religion, race, or gender.
Unitarianism Ethical Theory
Scholars have proposed numerous ethical theories that influence moral behaviors of mankind. The Unitarianism theory is one of the most adopted theories to explain whether cyber bullying is morally right or wrong albeit reliant on the implications it seeds (Rodgers & Dietz, 2015). The proponents of this theory are John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham ((Rodgers & Dietz, 2015; Harrison, 2015). The theory seeks to find the response of the question, what is justly good? The argument that supports Unitarianism as a guide curb cyber bullying is that humans should never text or post anything that is viewed as unfavorable or negative in emails, social media websites, or electronic gadgets (Rodgers & Dietz, 2015). Very simply, the reason is that when negative comments from internet users are believed to make people feel depressed and at times can even cause them to commit suicides. Thus, the proponents of this theory opine that people should be polite and act in civilized manner- they should differentiate between what is right and wrong.
Application of the Theory Case Example
A good case example to exemplify the application of this theory is the case of Megan Meier. The young teen lived in O’Fallon, Missouri. During her young ages, she often chatted with John Evans on Myspace, who is reported to have been sixteen years old. However, it turned out that it was a case of impersonation. The real account owner was a mother of one of her friends who she had allegedly fallen out with. The old mother’s intent was to gain Meier’s trust. Eventually, she sent an upsetting message to Meier. It stated;
“Everybody in this city knows exactly who you are. You’re a wicked person and no boy likes you. The world will be a better place when you are gone. Have as shitty time in the rest of your life!”
Wretchedly, Meier then responded with a text message “You are the kind of a person that would make me kill myself.” After a short period, Meier was found dead in her closet after hanging herself. Without a doubt, death of Meier can be attributed to the negative comments sent by the imposter woman. This is a brilliant example illustrating how negative comments can lead one to commit suicide. In overall, people should refrain from posting negative comments since inherently; such posts are known to generate bad feelings.
To wrap up, it is evident that cyber bullying is a common problem facing many teens in the present-day society. It occurs when an individual is harassed, threatened, embarrassed, or harmed by another person through the internet, mainly through the mobile phones or social media websites. Markedly, as highlighted in the discussion, the issue is evident almost in all countries and is in high rise due to the advancements in technology. Different countries have put into place varying laws and policies to curb the problem. In particular, the report has analyzed the steps taken by the USA and the United Kingdom to counter cyber bullying. Lastly, the author of this paper has expounded on the Unitarianism ethical theory and how it can be applied in the realms of reducing cyber bullying. Noteworthy, the theory is founded on the assertion that mankind should act in a moral way without hurting fellow citizens.
- Carpenter, D., & Ferguson, C. J. (2009). The everything parent’s guide to dealing with bullies: From playground teasing to cyber bullying, all you need to ensure your child’s safety and happiness. Avon, Mass: Adams Media.
- Harrison, T. ( 2015). Virtuous reality: moral theory and research into cyber-bullying. Ethics and Information Technology, 17, 4, 275-283.
- Myers, J. J., McCaw, D., & Hemphill, L. S. (2011). Responding to cyber bullying: An action tool for school leaders. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Corwin Press.
- Pappas, S. (2015). Cyberbullying on Social Media Linked to Teen Depression. Retrieved from <http://www.livescience.com/51294-cyberbullying-social-media-teen-depression.html>
- Rodgers, E & Dietz, C. (2015). Ethics of Social Media Behavior: Act versus Rule Utilitarianism. Retrieved from < https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwilm5Ldz5jTAhULJcAKHTHRBLQQFgggMAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.mckendree.edu%2Facademics%2Fscholars%2Frodgers-issue-24.pdf&usg=AFQjCNESHjQ6VbVjejtiDaM9ir7vQc6PmQ&sig2=z22Qci1XUqeS6sKZ_Xbs5g
- Smith, T. (2012). Cyberbullying: A world-wide problem. Retrieved from <http://www.cbronline.com/management/cyberbullying-a-world-wide-problem-160112/>
- Stuckey, R. (2013). Cyber bullying. London: Raintree.