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Cyberbullying is the deliberate targeting of another person with the intent to harass, threaten, or embarrass them. In some cases, cyberbullying is easily identifiable due to its harsh, cruel, or mocking nature. However, Kids Health points out that in some instances, attackers may portray themselves as victims of social networks and then proceed to post cyber-attacks or derogatory information about the victim, claiming it was already online on one of the networks.

Less-personal forms of cyberbullying include posting photos or videos intended to embarrass another person. Unfortunately, cyberbullying has become an epidemic in many schools. A September 2018 Pew Research Center survey found that 59% of American teenagers have experienced online bullying or harassment. Additionally, a study revealed that 90% of teenagers believe that online harassment is a problem that affects people their age.

The same survey also indicated that most young people believe key groups, such as teachers, social media companies, and politicians, are not effectively addressing the problem. Therefore, it can be assumed that cyberbullying can have a lasting impact on children and adolescents. Similar to other forms of bullying, cyberbullying can lead to more severe consequences that can leave a lasting mark on the victim. Children may suffer from depression, anxiety, and a lack of self-confidence as a result. Some may even begin to avoid school, which hinders the ability of teachers and school psychologists to impart the skills necessary for success in adulthood.

In many cases, teachers find themselves as bystanders when it comes to cyberbullying. It can be challenging for teachers to identify this form of bullying and intervene effectively when it occurs on online platforms, forums, or through private messages between children that are not accessible to teachers. However, if teachers aim to protect their students from the harmful effects of cyberbullying, it is crucial for them to know how to recognize it. To identify cyberbullying, familiarizing oneself with several terms is important:

  • Trolling: deliberately posting provocative and offensive messages about sensitive topics, such as racist and sexist material, to provoke a reaction. The term “troll” in cyberspace refers to individuals who seek to outrage people online by intentionally posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content.
  • Flaming: sending provocative messages to start an argument. According to Lifewire “flaming is about hurling insults, broadcasting hatred, name-calling, or any direct verbal hostility directed at a specific person.”
  • Harassment: a specific, targeted attack on an individual or group through persistent actions intended to frighten or upset the victim. Harassment can quickly escalate into cyberstalking.
  • Cyberstalking: using the internet to cause fear or concern for the victim’s safety. Cyberstalking may include tracking and collecting someone’s personal and private information and then using it to create fear in the victim. This can also involve texting them multiple times a day to let them know they are being followed, stalking their social media accounts to find out where they are so the stalker can show up uninvited, or constantly posting about the victim without their permission. Cyberstalking is illegal in many places.
  • Catfishing: stealing a digital identity or creating fake profiles to lure others into online communication.  This form of cyberbullying can also be used to spy on or manipulate children, teenagers and even adults.
  • Fraping: digital identity theft associated with logging into someone’s profile to publish inappropriate content that can, in many cases, harm the victim.  This is a serious offence, and according to Business Insider, “in Ireland it is now a felony punishable by up to 10 years of imprisonment.”
  • Griefing: making people angry through online games. A “griefer” is a person who harasses or deliberately provokes players of an online game or members of an online community, with the aim of spoiling their enjoyment.
  • Outing: publicly sharing someone else’s personal, sexual, or other embarrassing information, such as private information, photos, or videos. This can be very damaging, especially among other children and adolescents who may not respond sympathetically, and the victim may become depressed at a young age due to this attack and the reactions of those around them.