Cyberbullying and its effects to adolescents in learning environments

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There have been many reports on bullying and how it has a big impact on children and young adults. Bullying may come in all types of forms, whether it is physical, emotional, or even cyberbullying. According to Cappadocia et al, (2013) “cyberbullying involves harassing, insulting, physically threatening, socially excluding, and/or humiliating others using electronic media such as email, Internet sites, instant Internet messaging, and cell phone text messages (Chisholm, 2006)” (p. 172). Unlike ‘normal’ or ‘regular’ bullying, cyberbullying is repetitive and occurs much more often. Any type of bullying effects young adults or adolescents, especially when it comes to the educational environment. Accoring to Heiman and Olenik-Shemesh (2015), “cyberbullying has become a worldwide phenomenon, with growing occurrences every year…although th cyberbullying might begin in elementary school and can continue to college, it occurs mostly during early adolescence” (p. Studies have shown that adolescents that are the perpetrators of cyberbullying have a significant impact of how the victims act and react when it comes to a learning environment. Every child has a right to learn and when there are factors such as cyberbullying that disrupt the learning environment, it creates a shift in the social justice aspect of the classroom. Cyberbullying does not just happen to children that are fully capable of learning on their own. Studies have also been conducted focusing on children and adolescents that have learning disabilities.

With new technologies developing each and everyday, there are constantly new opportunities for cyberbullies to victimize these adolescents with and/or without learning disabilities. Heiman and Olenik-Shemesh (2015) argue that “for the past decade, computer and Internet facilities have created new opportunities for children and adolescents with and without [learning disabilities], as it is an easier environment for requesting academic help or for creating social connections as compared to face-to-face relationships (Raskind, Margalit, & Higgins, 2006)” (p. 146). Some of the cyberbullies share common factors that make it ‘easier’ for cyberbullying to occur. These factors include, efficient and greater computer and technology proficiency, frequent use of the Internet and technologies, more use of electronic tools, such as cell phones and tablets, and more exposure to the Internet (Cassidy et al., 2009, p. 386). Cyberbullying is a type of victimization that abuses the victims mentally and emotionally. Being a victim of cyberbullying leads to “clinically significant social problems and depression, academic problems and school truancy, and physical symptoms such as headaches and abdominal pain, as well as substance use, weapon carrying, and aggression” (Cappadocia et al., 2013, p. 172). Since these are factors that affect the individual, these can lead to a decrease in willingness and ability to be present in a have a good and healthy learning environment.

As mentioned above, since bullying of all kinds, especially cyberbullying, has becoming a worldwide phenomenon, there has been very little research so far, for adolescents that have learning disabilities that attend classes and special classes. Since there is none to little research done on this specific problem, there has to be more awareness to the issue so that people, such as parents and teachers, that are constantly surrounded by this type of abuse can work together to develop programs for prevention and interventions (Cappadocia et al., 2013, p. 187-188). To further understand and prevent this problem, Heiman and Olenik-Shemesh (2015) decided that in order to increase the prevention and intervention, “these specific programs for…should be taught during class lessons, focus on strengthening students’ social skills to establish close and trustworthy relationships to diminish the exposure to cyberbullying, and enhance the children’s awareness of safe Internet behavior” (p. 154)


References:

  • Cappadocia, M., Craig, W., & Pepler, D. (2013). Cyberbullying: Prevalence, Stability, and Risk Factors During Adolescence. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 28(2), 171-192. Retrieved February 15, 2015, from SAGE Journals.
  • Cassidy, W., Jackson, M., & Brown, K. (2009). Sticks And Stones Can Break My Bones, But How Can Pixels Hurt Me?: Students’ Experiences With Cyber-Bullying. School Psychology International, 383-402. Retrieved February 16, 2015, from SAGE Journals.
  • Heiman, T., & Olenik-Shemesh, D. (2015). Cyberbullying Experience and Gender Differences Among Adolescents in Different Educational Settings. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 48(2), 146-155. Retrieved February 15, 2015, from SAGE Journals.
  • ‘cyberbulling bubble’ image from: https://bullyinglte.wordpress.com/category/cyberbullying/
  • Abbot, Christina & Fraser, Daniel. [Strutt Central]. (2012, Mar 22). The Cyberbullying Virus [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5PZ_Bh-M6o
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