A recent article published on NBCNews.com suggests that cyberbullying may not be the epidemic that people once believed it to be. The article cites that the American Psychological Association received data in a survey that, in a study containing 5,000 teens, only 15 percent reported having been cyberbullied. This information differed from previous data that claimed 30 to 72 percent of teens have been bullied online.
The article explains that youth and teenager use of the internet and social media get a bad reputation because of high-profile cases where young people become extremely depressed and in some cases, commit suicide. In fact, the author questions whether cyberbullying should be considered bullying at all:
“Indeed, there’s debate over what cyberbullying actually is. Traditional bullying involves repetitive episodes of abuse carried out by one person who is viewed to have more power, usually physical, over the victim.”
15 percent is an unrealistic number. In many, if not most, cases of cyberbullying, the victim is fearful to let the problem be known. The definition of bullying includes the fact that the bully and the victim have a power imbalance. Although cyberbullying does not fit the traditional definition of a physical power imbalance, the inequality lies in the confidence that the bully feels behind a screen versus the lack of confidence the victim feels. Just because only 15 percent of the 5,000 students were confident enough to admit they were cyberbullied, does not mean only 15 percent were actually victims.
Cyberbullying is more prevalent nowadays than “classic” bullying. Digital devices are more common to see than personal interactions. Because the technological world is advancing at such a rapid rate, schools need to keep up and update the rules and regulations within the system.