Silent Victims: Cyber Bullying

By Nadia Crow, Reporter

Tools

By Aaron Hepker

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - Bullying is not confined to the classroom, playground, or cafeteria. A study that questioned 165 University of Northern Iowa students showed that 84% of those surveyed observed cyber bulling. The survey questioned students about bullying on social networking sites. The results showed a surprising trend. It’s one that began in elementary school and intensified throughout college.

“I think Facebook started really becoming popular when I was in high school,” said UNI psychology major Katelyn Rohlf. But University of Northern Iowa students Katelyn Rohlf, Indrani Thiruselvam, and Ashley Lynch started noticing a change on the social networking site. “There slowly started being more cases of people being picked on through Facebook or other social media outlets,” said Rohlf. They started seeing cyber bullying.

“Teasing, telling lies, making fun of someone. Threatening or posting aggressive material,” said Psychology Department Chair Doctor Carolyn Hildebrandt. The students began to research cyber bullying under the guidance of Psychology Department Chair Doctor Carolyn Hildebrandt. They questioned 184 students, mostly freshmen. “If one of your friends were being cyber bullied would you tell their parents. Would you tell your own? “ asked Rohlf.

The study showed that 84% observed cyber bullying. 56% say they’ve been a victim. The anonymity of the bully gives that person power. And with one click of the mouse, that bully impacts an infinite number of people. “Once it’s out there, you can’t take it back. Even after it’s deleted there’s still a record out there of it happening,” said Rohlf.

Perhaps the most alarming number ?????

“I think deep down they’re really not sure what to do and they really don’t want to get involved and become victims themselves,” said Dr. Hildebrandt.

One of the reasons why people might not do anything is because out of all their many friends on Facebook, a majority of them might only be acquaintances. “If it’s just someone you kind of know it’s like ‘oh one of their better friends will take care of it,” said Rohlf. And if no one steps up, the bullying snowballs.

“The silent victim could be a time bomb,” said Hildebrandt. This can lead to dire consequences like suicide.

The power of words. A captivated audience. And a seemingly helpless victim. “It’s also something that can be hidden from parents and authority figures,” said Rohlf.

There are tools in place to limit unwanted contact. “Work on those privacy settings to make sure only friends can post on your wall and only friends can see your wall and comment on your pictures,” said Rolhf.

The growing medium finds an ever growing outlet for bullies and more struggles for potential victims. But Dr. Hildebrandt argues it’s the power of the bystander that can force change. “On the upside there are more observers that can step in and make a difference,” said Hildebrandt.

“Net cetra” is a government issued handbook about cyber bullying; how to spot it and stop it. You can get a free copy of the handbook by clicking here.

You can take a look at that UNI study’s findings:

UNI Cyber Bullying Study

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