What Makes Cyberbullying So Dangerous?

In all its forms, cyberbullying combines the devastating effects of in-person bullying with several added issues unique to its technological format. These factors magnify the feelings of shame and helplessness that the victims experience as a result of any type of bullying.

  • Anonymity--You can be cyberbullied by a stranger or a close acquaintance without ever being able to tell who the culprit is. Bullies may feel empowered to say and do more destructive things than they would face-to-face when they are interacting with their victims screen-to-screen.
  • Permanence--It can be nearly impossible to rid the internet of offensive material that a cyberbully makes public; once a photo, rumor, or video has made it into a cyberspace, it may be there forever.
  • Publicity--Cyberbullying can escalate what might once have been schoolyard disputes into smear campaigns accessible to the whole world. All it takes is for a “friend” to forward an email to friends who forward it further or to re-post or re-tweet a bullying for the bullying to “go viral” and reach a large audience.
  • Omnipresence—Cyberbullying follows you home. A student being bullied at school may find refuge in other spaces, but a victim of cyberbullying is connected to his or her tormentors whenever he or she is connected to a cell phone or computer—which for many teens is all the time.