What Is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying comes in many forms, but the common element is the use of technology like the internet and cell phones to harass a victim. The Cyberbullying Research Center defines the phenomenon as, “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.” Cyberbullying can range from small-scale name-calling via social networking sites to persistent threatening text messages to unauthorized posting of personal pictures or videos to public websites.

What Are Some Types and Examples of Cyberbullying?

  • One of the most well-known and most tragic cases of cyberbullying was that of Tyler Clementi. Clementi committed suicide on September 22, 2010 after his roommates posted footage online that showed him being intimate with another male. The roommates had filmed the video with a secret webcam. Sadly, cyberbullying is especially prevalent against LGBT youth.
  • The Cyberbullying Research Center cites cases of cyberbullying in the context of abusive relationships. For instance, a significant other may maintain constant, threatening contact via text messages in an attempt to keep tabs on what the victim is doing and to deliver threats.
  • In Chappaqua, New York, several high school senior boys created a website to share information about their female classmates—including details on the girls’ level of “sexual experience,” as Amy Benfer reports in a Slate.com article entitled “Cyber slammed.”
  • Cyberbullies may create fake profiles on sites like Facebook to taunt their victims. They may, for example, use a peer’s real name for the page and then post embarrassing photos and demeaning comments.
  • Victims may receive a barrage of anonymous calls, texts, emails, or instant messages with hateful content without knowing who is behind them or what triggered them.