How Technology Impacts Bullying in Schools

27.05.2022 in Research Paper

Introduction

Nowadays, school bullying is a serious problem in many countries. Harassment, intimidation, bullying, threats, and attacks have a negative impact on educational performance. However, in recent years, this phenomenon has moved to a new level. School students actively use modern technologies for bullying. Smart gadgets and the constant access to the Internet help to maintain a continual connection among people. Nevertheless, researchers believe that technologies also has a destroying impact on the emotional state and the development of empathic abilities of children if it is misused. Thus, the problem regarding the use of technologies at schools has to be studied in more detail to estimate their influence on bullying among school students.

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For a long time, school bullying meant an everyday thing. However, in the last 20 years, it became a mass phenomenon designated by the term “bullying.” For years, the problem of bullying was impeded, nothing about it was customary to speak, and there was no special scientific term for the designation of this issue. The main problem of cyberbullying is that this negative phenomenon develops even faster than it is being studied. Furthermore, modern and up-to-date technologies impact young people, mainly adolescents. When it comes to suicides, depressions, eating disorders, and other mental problems, this age is very risky as any bullying, harassment or attacks can have a drastically negative impact on children or teenagers. As there is a lack of scientific literature describing this term, this paper is focused on uncovering both main and hidden aspects of the way modern technologies influence bullying in schools and offer some effective and up-to-date solutions to resolve the issue of bullying in society. This paper is aimed at discussing the relevance and negative impact of such modern phenomenon as bullying in schools and its horrible consequences regarding the usage of new technologies and Internet. In addition, it is important to pay attention not only to the cyber bulling process itself but to all the stages of its process: starting from developing new technologies that are not meant to be used for bullying to horrible consequences that come as a result of such deviant behavior in schools. Moreover, this paper describes the reasons for bullying in educational establishments and ways to avoid and cope if someone undergoes any bullying activities.

Background

The first publications on school bullying appeared a long time ago. In 1905, K. Dukes published the first work concerning the issue. However, the early systematic studies of the problem were conducted by Scandinavian scientists. In the USA, scholars began paying special attention to bullying in the early nineties. The word “bullying” means the intimidation, physical or psychological terror directed on causing fear in another child and, thereby, subjugate them (Li, Cross, & Smith, 2012).

Furthermore, cyberbullying is an instigation of others to express scorn towards the chosen victim. Pupils can retail nasty rumors about the person, provoking a negative attitude to him or her. They can publish reliable information about the victim on websites devoted to hatred or child pornography which can make the person vulnerable to physical attacks (Li, Cross, & Smith, 2012).

Statement of problem

Bullying is a global and mass phenomenon. Among 1200 children who have answered the questions on the Internet site KidsPoll, 48 percent were exposed to bullying, including 15 percent of those who were exposed to repeated bullying, 42 percent were engaged in it, and 20 percent were engaged in bullying repeatedly. According to one of the American studies, the objects of which were more than 15,000 students from 6th to 10th grade, 17 percent of them admitted that within the last academic year, they sometimes or more often were exposed to bullying, 19 percent of pupils have bullied someone, and 6 percent were at the same time both subjects and victims of bullying (Carey, 2009).

Current statistics prove that approximately 160,000 school students are daily missing their classes because they are afraid to be intimidated or attacked by other students. Scientists noted that 15 percent of all school absenteeism cases are directly associated with students’ fears to be offended at school. Over half of the surveyed American teenagers told that such cases are familiar to them, and nearly half of cyberbullies had fun in such a way numerous times. Each month, approximately 282,000 students of secondary schools are physically attacked (Langhorst, 2012).

The majority of victims and eyewitnesses of cyberbullying do not complain to the adults. According to the statistics, boys prevail among cyberbullies. However, the girls who have become the victims of cyberbullying reported about it to adults more often than boys. Discrepancies in the figures are natural because one calls serious acts of aggressive bullying, while others refer any threats and insults to it without which even the most peaceful human community does not live. Nevertheless, it is clear that currently, bullying is a serious and mass phenomenon (Li, Cross, & Smith, 2012).

The prevalence of bullying at school conducted by means of technologies is caused by a number of advantages for bullies. First, technologies give the chance of twenty-four-hour intervention in private life. Second, cyberbullying has no temporary or geographical restrictions. Thereby, attacks do not end after school. Third, the cyberbullies have direct access through technical means to the victim round the clock using mobile phone or profile in social networks and e-mail. Due to constant numbers and accounts, the victim is not protected from bullying attacks even at home (Breguet, 2007).

Another aspect promoting an extension of cyberbullying among school students is the limitlessness of audience and speed of distribution of the information. For example, messages or images sent via electronic technical means are very difficult to be controlled once they appeared online. Additionally, videos are easily copied from the Internet portals. Therefore, the volume of the audience and field of distribution of cyberbullying is much wider than those of usual bullying. The content which has been forgotten for a long time can get into public access again, and it will be difficult for a victim to neutralize it. Besides, the anonymity of the provoker keeps him in safety encouraging him or her to deride a victim for a long time (Rich, 2014).

Nowadays, bullying obtained a new modality along with the expansion of technologies among school students. Bullies use websites where they can ridicule the victims because they are fatter, uglier, or more sexually active than other students. More often, students use their cell phones to take videos and pictures of their victims in various compromising situations. By means of technologies, bullies may superimpose the faces of their victims on pornographic images (Breguet, 2007).

Easy accessibility to technologies may turn usual jokes into devastating things, at least for some children. For example, bullying messages may be received anywhere and anytime, which can make the child feel rather personally unprotected. Conversely, the factor of the number of pupils who receive a humiliating message about their classmate also has negative consequences for victims. Bullying, in all its forms, has the same result: it causes self-doubt, distress, and anxiety (Rich, 2014).

The issue of bullying at schools becoming more and more widely spread by means of technology caused a worldwide resonance. Consequently, a number of countries adopted strict regulations controlling the manifestation of bullying among school students. For example, in 2007, South Korea has developed a bill directed toward a fight against bullying via the Internet. In May 2011, the Minister of Education of France along with the support team of Facebook decided that bullies have to be identified and, under certain circumstances, expelled from school. In addition, teachers are obliged to keep an account of the content of blogs (Hinduja, & Patchin, 2011).

In Germany, cyberbullying has no own objective side of a crime. However, its separate sides are punishable. In Germany, cyberbullying is ranked as a tort, i.e. private or civil offense that involves punishment. In addition, there is a law on the protection of the rights of the young generation in which there are paragraphs regulating the use of media. In 2008, in Missouri, USA, the authorities adopted the law against cyberbullying influenced by the suicide of a teenager which had a broad public response. In New Jersey, strict laws against bullying at school and in higher educational institutions were adopted as a result of a suicide of a student (Breguet, 2007).

Some schools have their own policies concerning the fight against bullying by means of technology. The most widely spread method is to make students turn off and take away cell phones. In the case the students are caught while using cell phones and other messaging gadgets in classes, teachers and school administrators may confiscate them. Some schools train their staff to be familiar with all forms of cyberbullying. Besides, to prevent the dissemination of bullying among children, teachers and their parents are recommended to watch after their children and their reactions on incoming messages. If a child looks angry, disturbed or disappointed after receiving a message, it will be better for parents and teachers to conduct some investigation (Carey, 2009).

The primary objective of parents and teachers should be the prevention of bullying acts both inside and outside the school. Thus, experts advise parents to be computer savvy and do their best to be abreast of technology. Parents should know what their children are doing when using cell phones and computers. In addition, parents and school administrations should open hot lines for communication with pupils to combat cyberbullying. The active cooperation with children and Internet companies may help in blocking future cyberbullying messages, tracing received electronic messages, and information saving (Carey, 2009).

In addition, schools should establish technological systems for reporting misuse of technology or cyberbullying. Effective responses to obtained reports of cases of cyberbullying can also have positive effects on bullying prevention. Moreover, the dissemination of bullying may be controlled and even stopped by means of technology as well. For example, schools may build positive digital citizenship for their students by offering interactive resources (Langhorst, 2012).

In addition, schools may establish and use the latest technology aimed at stopping cyberbullying behaviors and providing useful technological options to every student to respond to, report, and prevent bullying incidents. Today, there are numerous effective anti-bullying programs and plugins including PBIS, Olweus, etc. Such programs are designed to make a positive school atmosphere by reducing negative behavior. Schools should provide their students with anonymous reporting systems to combat fear (Langhorst, 2012).

Besides schools, the same situation referring to bulling is also observed at workplaces. The mass implementation of modern technologies into the workplace makes the process of mockery among employees easier and more popular in the form of bullying. Nowadays, even the friendliest staff may experience some cases of bullying. Experts claim that office cyberbullying usually has reasonable borders. In most cases, there is no absolutely tactful behavior among colleagues concerning each other. By means of correspondence, via the Internet or cell phone, the employee-bully expresses his or her hostility. Rather frequently, there are cases when the bully leaves sharp comments concerning his or her employee on corporate websites for public viewing. In this case, as well as in school bullying, the aspects of anonymity, imaginary, impunity, and availability of wide audience play an important role. However, the problem of workplace bullying is solved in some other ways. First, the victim of bullying can address a lawyer and solve this problem through the courts. Second, managers of HR departments are more often including rules of corporate governance and ethics into charters of corporate behavior where such offensive behavior is forbidden. Thus, all problems with network etiquette are discussed publicly. Consequently, workers are taught to keep their emotions under control (Tarkan, 2013).

Description of Decision Making Process

Bullying is a mass phenomenon faced by many schools all over the world (NJASP, 2017). To start discussion about the decision making process and preventive therapy or even treatment that can solve cyberbullying problem, one should pay attention to a question of identity. According to NJASP (2017), children do not usually spend much time considering such philosophical question as who they are. However, it can help to stop bullying even at the early stages of this phenomenon. It is difficult to overrate the importance of mindfulness as it enables each person to reach clarity and truth from their personal myth. To emphasize on myth and age that is present in the context, parents and teachers should care for that the issue of mindfulness become critical but not confusing or stressful.

Current statistics proves that there are more than 62 per cent of bullying in school cases which have been caused by mental problems or different roles conflict with each other. To emphasize on such cases, Kate (14 years old) was chased by her ex-boyfriend Met. At first, he chased her only at school with a group of his friends to laugh her out. The second motive of his behavior was to humiliate Kate considering that he knew many of her secrets. For instance, one of them was that even Kate was an adolescent, she was a fan of cartoons. First physical and then online bullying led the girl to practical lessons with the psychologist. According to KidsHealth (2016), it contributed to psychological state of Kate. She adopted the composite identity that kept her stable and fun even though she was in the endlessly shifting circumstances and among different people. When Kate started identifying her mental pain, she realized it was caused by low self-esteem and broken relationships. Thereby, bullying became a part of her identity. This case is an excellent proof mindfulness and timely therapy can bring much good to a child or a teenager if he or she encounters online bullying. Such actions as seeing one’s own treasures and identity and practicing mindfulness give a clearer insight into person’s identity. It is more that one does not regard identity as relevant anymore. To emphasize on self-identification and self-esteem therapy eliminates much of the confusion that can be caused not only by bulling but by issues of self.

The second case of bullying at school is related to the science of perception and meditation. According to ACNJ (2014), over 35 per cent of all surveyed American adolescents confirmed they faced cyberbullying more than twice in their lives. Each year, there are more than million pupils (mainly in secondary schools) who were cyber attacked. Kyle was one of these boys who faced cyberbullying in school. He was born in 2001, his childhood was spent in front of computers, laptops, and endless games. Obviously, in the middle of the 2000s, Kyle opened the Internet for himself and became one of those shy people who hide themselves in the Internet to avoid “the light”. He was involved in the conflict of massive bullying attack when he was 17. A group of teenagers mocked him in an online chat, blackmailing to show his photos to a schoolgirl he knew. They threatened to reveal the reasons why Kyle made them, for what and what was the real purpose. This case is being emphasized on cyberbullying. Unfortunately, it is one of those terrible cases when cyber or offline (or mixed) required deep and expensive therapy. Fortunately for Kyle and badly for the doctors, the first was prohibited to take any medicine. They decided to turn on the assessment center to help Kyle. The effects of therapy were positive: practicing sessions with psychologist changed not only Kyle but many children who were bullying him at school. According to Juntunen (2013), group therapy as a tool to cope with cyber or real bullying is an effective practices as it cause changes not only on metal level but on the physical one. The brain areas react and function to relate and cause positive effects. It may consider the assessment center (lateral prefrontal cortex) to ‘self’ center (medial prefrontal cortex) and to fear center (amygdala) or to sensation center (insula). Besides Kyle, all children felt a positive impact, and their fear center (amygdala) tended to function normally and better for 13 per cent (Juntunen, 2013).

Conclusion

Taking all information into account, the availability of technologies for school students has not only positive consequences but also negative ones. In recent years, school students learned to turn virtual means of communication and media into powerful means for bullying. Cyberbullying is as dangerous as bullying in the conventional sense. This problem concerns not only children and teenagers who are direct participants but also adults who have to support and help their children in such situations. Besides, parents and teachers have to act jointly to prevent bullying manifestation. World concern about this issue is caused by the fact that many children who became potential victims of cyberbullying do not withstand such psychological pressure and solve the problem by committing suicide.

It is hard to overrate the importance of psychotherapy and mindfulness when it comes to bullying. The inner roller coaster that could describe technology’s impact on bullying and all the consequences to children should be accepted by modern society. When children focus on emotions, results, and their own pace, treating emotional and mental difficulties become easier at many times. With the acceptance of the present moment, people do not need any negative messages to carry. To step of the ‘mental roller-coaster’, a child has to get an experience of being on it to observe everything from the hill and to get the distance he or she needs.

First, every parent should understand that, as well as ‘off-line’ bullying, bullying in the web, needs control and help from their side. Every child deserves support and attention from their parents not to be imprisoned in guilt, shame or other mental harassment. The parents should provide attention to the present moment spending more time with their children in communication as forming trust they receive a key in their hands to keep a finger on the pulse when it comes to social problems they kids may have. At times of stress and uncertainty, bullying can lead to eating disorders, panic depression, and even suicide. Thereby, communication that leads to self-identification is one of the best and effective ways to cope with bullying in schools, keeping warm and strong relationships in society.

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