ILD 831 Cyber Bullying

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With the massive growth of users on social media platforms, cyber bullying has become a real problem. The perceived anonymity of comments can lead individuals to say or do things that they would not normally do (Cass & Anderson, 2011). Cyber bullying has been as the root of teen suicides and has become a hot topic even with President Obama (Shepperd, 2011). The U.S. Federal Government as well as State and Local Government have gotten involved to try to deter bullying on the Internet. The social media giant Facebook® has tried to deter cyber bullying by creating tools to address online harassment (Siner, 2013). Even with the increased awareness and the countless prevention programs, cyber bullying is still a serious issue amongst teens and young adults.

The United States Federal Government defines cyber bullying as “bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites. Examples of cyberbullying (sic) include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles” (Cyber Bullying, 2013). There are currently no Federal Statutes for cyber bullying. However, States are enacting their own cyber bullying statutes based on the federal definition of cyber bullying. With many statutes enacted by states, some states are tougher on cyber bullying than others and some states have not passed legislation to address online harassment. Only nineteen states have passed legislation for cyber bullying (State Cyberbullying Legislation, 2013). Of the nineteen states to pass legislation, California has passed the toughest laws against cyber bullying (Nelson, 2013).  The Department of Education has been instrumental in helping states to create policies as well as laws to prevent online harassment (Cyber Bullying, 2013). Over half of teens and young adults have reported that they have been victims of cyber bullying; and about the same number of teens and young adults have said they have participated in cyber bullying (Cyber Bullying Statistics, 2013).

With cyber bullying statistics on the rise and the teens and young adults moving into adulthood, will online harassment continue with them? Is there some a point when individuals outgrow this sort of thing? An article I found recently seems to uphold the fact that even adults find cyber bullying an acceptable way to act. In Georgia a group of moms would use Facebook® to make nasty comments about babies they considered to be ugly (Williams, 2013). Although most of us find this reprehensible, there are segments of society that are okay with this type of behavior. With the freedom the Internet gives to make comments, so many people now feel they have a voice and want to make that voice heard. Just looking at Yahoo articles, there is an area to post comments and to respond to other’s comments. Sometimes these comments are constructive, but most are negative and argumentative. But as a leader how do I create an environment that is free from cyber bullying?

I am not sure there is an answer for this. I know that creating policies in the work environment can deter most cyber bullying, but what can be done in the public sector? Every state has policies against bullying but only a handful of states have laws against cyber bullying (Cyber Bullying, 2013). Is it because there is so much gray area or that the Internet is so difficult to regulate? Even China is finding it hard to completely regulate the Internet, and their government is considered a totalitarian government with the ability to shutdown things they deem inappropriate for their citizens (Tanquintic-Misa, 2013). But even China suffers from individuals using the Internet to attack political policies as well as other individuals. So there seems to be nowhere where cyber bullying in some form is not present. I feel that by teaching proper online etiquette instead of just creating punishments; perhaps cyber bullying can be lessened. I do believe it is human nature to be critical of others, but it is how that criticism is directed that makes a difference. What do you think?


Cass, C., & Anderson, S. A. (2011, September 27th). Poll: Young People Say Online Meanness Pervasive and Serious. Retrieved from Huffington Post:

Cyber Bullying. (2013, November 25th). Retrieved from

Cyber Bullying Statistics. (2013, November 29th). Retrieved from Bullying Statistics:

Nelson, N. (2013, November 6th). Cyberbullying Laws – How Fast Are States Adapting? Retrieved from Chapman University School of Law:

Shepperd, S. (2011, March 10). White House Conference Tackles Bullying. Retrieved from CNN:

Siner, E. (2013, November 7th). Facebook Takes On Cyberbullies As More Teens Leave Site. Retrieved from NPR:

State Cyberbullying Legislation. (2013, November 29th). Retrieved from UNC:

Tanquintic-Misa, E. (2013, November 29th). China Heaves Sigh, Says Online Rumour Crackdown Successful. Retrieved from International Business Times:

Williams, D. (2013, November 13th). Moms on Facebook Bully Baby Girl’s Appearance. Retrieved from USA Today:


13 thoughts on “ILD 831 Cyber Bullying

    The Scarecrow said:
    November 30, 2013 at 3:04 am This is the story of Amanda Todd, a 15 year old girl who suicided as a result of bullying. Hope this follows up your post.

    lybrarylyon said:
    November 30, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    I like your idea of including online etiquette training to employees (and students). I glad to see that Creighton University also includes the information for us. Do they do the same for the on the ground classes? I wonder if Creighton U. employees are required to complete the training. Do they have formal policies on how to handle bullying issues amongst students and employees, or is it left for each supervisor and teacher to handle? I, too, selected this topic for our class and wish I would have looked into those issues myself.

    When I am working with students who have been the victim of bullying or the perpetrator, I try to keep in mind that they have learned the aggressive behavior from someone (and possibly the media in general socialization). I work with the students to consider how their actions affect others, but also to think about how their actions reflect upon themselves. I try to approach it as a teachable moment with the students. The website, recommended that the “Focus (is) on behavior, not on the label.” I believe that the information on that website is transferable to the workplace. What do you think?

    References (2013, October 23). Why we don’t use the word “Bully” to label kids. Retrieved from

      tcstearns said:
      December 1, 2013 at 12:20 am

      Thank you for your post. I just looked and my organization my company does offers an online etiquette course for our employees. I did not know that this course existed, but then again I became an employee through an acquisition. I will have to reach out to my HR Department to ask if taking this course is a new employee requirement. Setting a corporate culture by modifying behavior begins with training.

      It is interesting that Creighton offers online etiquette courses and I do believe that this may have been created with the intention of offering online courses. I am not sure a traditional brick and mortar school that does not offer distance learning would create online etiquette courses. What do you think? Maybe we need to start in elementary schools so we can lay the ground work for anti-cyber bullying. One thing that has to happen is that ending cyber bullying has to start at home. Does that mean that we need to create better monitoring software for parents?

      I completely agree that a child learns this behavior from somewhere. Whether it is modeled at home, friends, visual media, or online media, the fact that an individual can learn to cyber bully is the issue. I feel that all people have an innate understanding of what is right and what is wrong. When a culture can change a person to make them feel that what they are doing is the correct thing to do, then there is a breakdown in the system somewhere. Of course, this is just my opinion.

    Britt Watwood said:
    December 1, 2013 at 12:35 pm


    Nice coverage of a very nuanced issue. Whether we are talking workplace, healthcare, or schools/colleges, most places have policies regarding physical bullying on site. But it becomes murky when you try to establish policies regarding behavior that occurs off-site, and most cyberbullying occurs outside the place or work or study. Can a company or a school legislate behavior that occurs in the home?

    I do believe that both education and focusing on the behavior and not the label move the ball forward.

      acc07855 said:
      December 1, 2013 at 3:27 pm

      I am wondering where the landscaping is shifting to with cyber-bulling because of the decline in Facebook membership accounts for younger people in high school and college. We all have a trigger finger when it comes to gossip about other people in that we tend to believe it or least not question the motives of people who spread rumors about other people. However, were is the terrain? Is it Facebook–the medium that killed Amanda–or is it Instagram? Twitter? Youtube? What is the next big thing?

      Is there a distinction between bullying–and there are statutes against it–and cyber-bullying? Who is to blame? The kids who do it or their parents who condone it? The Amanda Todd story is particularly interesting because the mother of one of the bullying classmates of Amanda actively engaged in taunting the poor girl and even counseled Amanda, as the fictional boyfriend, to commit suicide. Are they to blame?
      One of the counter movements toward cyberbulling and bullying hate crimes in general is the “It gets better” posts on Youtube. Here is an example:

      So, what do we do? Prosecute the parents? Prosecute the bullies. Prosecute schools, principals, and teachers who allow it? Police ourselves? Check these websites out:

      One of the aspects of cyberbullying that I’ve never understood is that, while old fashioned schoolyard bullying has always been between a kid and the friends of the bully and the bully him/herself; cyberbullying can be done by anyone–even the weakest kid in school–and the act leaves a virtual footprint. With bullying, you have the impact of the act; with cyberbullying, you have the experience that’s permanently out there. I don’t know why filters can’t seem to catch it or why schools tolerate it–at least until the local news media finds out and does a “straight from the heart story about it–as a rite of passage.

      Sometmes, I think free will is over-rated. Good post…

        tcstearns said:
        December 1, 2013 at 7:23 pm

        In nineteen states there are statutes against cyber bullying (Cyber Bullying, 2013). I feel that there should be more. As far as I know, psychologists feel that bullying is done by someone with a self esteem issue that feels threatened by another person. A lot of the articles I have read about cyber bullying are done to individuals by people that they know from school. So are we in a society that everyone has a self esteem issue, since like you say, even the weakest kid in school can be a cyber bully? It’s interesting that the power has shifted to those that are physically stronger to those that are mentally stronger. The old Spiderman quote, “With great power comes great responsibility” (Stan Lee, 2013). It is up to us as leaders to ensure that this power is used for constructive purposes and not destructive purposes.

        As a parent I am very involved with how my kids interact with others and try to monitor their online activities as much as possible. I know that it is impossible to monitor everything they do, but it is important to keep vigilant. Not only will I be able to see if my kids are being considerate of others, I will also have an opportunity to see if someone is beginning to bully them. I have only had one incident of bullying that happened to my son and it was not a fun experience. I actually knew the family and tried to work with them, without success. I cannot imagine having to deal with something like this when it is done on the Internet. Thanks for your post.



        Cyber Bullying. (2013, November 25th). Retrieved from

        Stan Lee. (2013, December 1st). Retrieved from Wikiquotes:

      tcstearns said:
      December 2, 2013 at 5:17 pm

      Thank you Professor Watwood.

      I am not sure if a company or school can legislate behavior that occurs in a home. One of the things that is concerning is that without video proof, how can one know that the individual that owns the online account is actually the one making comments or visiting certain websites? How many times did we hear about a celebrity that got their account hacked and that the things posted where not from the owner? It seemed like a cop out to avoid any negative press, but what if it were the case? The murkiness of the Internet makes regulating it very difficult. Although I would love to have some type of monitoring capability, unless someone is caught in the act, then it is tough to punish that person. I know that part of the security refresher training I get at work constantly discusses not sharing user name and password information with anyone. Could you imagine finding out you got fired for something that happened online that you had no idea about and it only occurred because you shared your user name and password with someone you thought you could trust? I am sure things like this happen more times than we think. Thanks for the thought Dr. Watwood.


    millervr said:
    December 1, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    I agree with your final conclusion that there may be nothing we can do about this. Though there have been a number of attempts to regulate Internet use in several countries, all have been to no avail. Most recently, a violent video of a teenage girl fight has made web headlines. In the video, one girl is brutally beaten by the other. It has been alleged that the assailant is under arrest and possibly in connection with the victim’s rumored suicide. We live in a world where almost any and all of our personal lives can be blasted for the world to see. Google, though we know how useful it can be, has the potential to ruin careers before they even start, should there be an employer who wants to know “more information” than an applicant states.

    Websites do their best to try to have age restrictions on their content, forcing users to input their birthdays/years before accessing sites, but there is no way to verify this information. With anything we do, a certain level of maturity is required, and Internet use and abuse is no different. I believe that the most we can do is effectively communicate the dangers associated with cyberbulling, and though you can use the Internet capacity “at your own risk”, the lives of others can potentially be in your hands as well.

    Valdez, M. (2013). Teenager blamed for someone else’s suicide? Retrieved from

      tcstearns said:
      December 1, 2013 at 7:51 pm

      I am beginning to wonder if kids under eighteen are feeling invincible because so many laws are put in place to protect them from being cited for serious offenses. When people feel protected they become increasingly overconfident with what they feel they can do. I’ve actually heard kids tell others that they would sue them or if they were in a confrontation with an adult that they would have them arrested. Even though that same underage person is themselves participating in an activity that would get them in trouble. I know that teachers and administrators feel powerless when trying to enforce rules that kids do not feel they need to follow. Maybe the legal age of being an adult should be lowered to fifteen?

    lrc00053 said:
    December 1, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Troy, I truly appreciated your post on cyber bullying. I have often wondered what makes individuals bully others. I remember being bullied a few times in elementary school, and unfortunately I also recall bullying people during that time frame as well. It did not feel good to be bullied and I’m sure the person(s) I bullied felt the same way.

    I found a blog written by Forsman (2012), titled 3 Causes for Judging People that gave the following reasons:
    1. “You wouldn’t tolerate the same behavior or characteristic in yourself. This type of judgment could reveal that we are not fully expressing our own feelings, and therefore feel resentful or put off by others doing so”.
    2. “You display the same behavior and aren’t aware of it so you project your disowned behavior onto others and dislike it “out there.” By taking an honest look within, we may see that we share some characteristics we dislike in others. This is likely to offer insight into gaining a greater self-acceptance and compassion for ourselves as well as others.
    3. “You are envious and resent the feelings that come up so you find something wrong with those who have what you want and end up judging them”. This happens when someone we know has attained recognition that may remind us of our own lack of success. We may resent their higher degree of accomplishment and then find something wrong with them in order to avoid owr own feelings of inadequacy.

    I can honestly say that the reason I bullied was due to feeling inferior to those I bullied. Now that I can recognize this trait in my past self I can make the changes to my own behaviors so that I will not act this way in the future. This brings me to the following questions: How do you think as leaders we can identify these characteristics in the workplace? Once identified, are we equipped to deal with these situations? If not, what would it take to equip ourselves to deal with these situations in the workplace?

    Forsman, J. (2012). 3 Causes for Judging People (and How to Accept Yourself). Retrieved December 1, 2013, from tiny buddha:

      tcstearns said:
      December 2, 2013 at 12:24 am

      Thanks for your honesty about being bullied and bullying others. I think we have all been in similar situations as kids Louis and I do not think this is uncommon. As with the animal order, there is a hierarchy that is established amongst the group. Jealousy, greed, and resentment always rear their ugly head when someone feels that they are not getting fair or equal treatment. Can the root of bullying be the persception of the individual or individuals? Maybe culture plays a huge part?

      As an example, I am torn with this type of situation. I currently coach my oldest son’s baseball team. We had a very successful season yet my younger son’s team did not. When I look at my older son’s team I am comfortable with the play that we do in order to be successful. However, when I see the same type of play being done against my younger son’s team, I would be upset and feel as though they were being treated unfairly. Although I do not cheat with my older son’s team, we do play harder than most. There were times when watching my younger son’s games that I would catch myself thinking that if that other coach only knew that these kids are not the same caliber and you should take it easy on them. So here we are and I am no closer to an absolute truth.

      Thanks for you post Louis and than you so much for including the 3 Causes for Judging People.


    The Constant Leader said:
    December 2, 2013 at 1:57 am

    Great post about cyber bulling and how it impacts not only our youth but in the workplace as well. There definitely is a fine line in promoting free speech and punishing or limiting speech unless it is hurting or detrimental to society. In addition as we continue to encourage the idea of speaking our mind and encouraging our young people to speech up, there needs to be education involved in the etiquette you describe. I think involving education regarding speaking our minds in a respectful manner that encourages dialogue and critical thinking would be beneficial. Maybe if we encourage constructive criticism, it would delineate the criticism from becoming excessive which could turn into bullying. Also, many of the bullies have been bullied themselves. It might be a good idea to provide support to individuals who have been bullied with the purpose of preventing bullying from continuing and breaking the cycle. There are still many things we can do and I believe policies will continue to be more prevalent to address this issue.

      tcstearns said:
      December 2, 2013 at 4:21 pm

      I agree that most bullies have been bullied themselves. It is a terrible cycle that may even start in the home with older siblings. I recently was watching a football game and saw a commercial where the older brother kept taking things from his younger brother and saying, “That’s mine.” Only in the end does the younger brother get the upper hand when the older brother tries to open the door on his new Cadillac and the younger brother says, “That’s mine Kyle.” I know that it is the natural order to be competitive but when the competition becomes unhealthy is when there is a concern. As leaders we must model how people must act, so therefore we have to ensure that we are doing things the right way. Not just in front of our followers, but at all times. It is imperative that we live the walk and not just talk the talk. I discourage my children bickering and saying mean things to each other. There was a point when my wife and I would not let friends come over until my kids learned how to treat other respectfully. Our thought was that if they cannot treat each other respectfully, then how could they treat others respectfully? It is also true that at some point all people need to take responsibility for their actions, even if those actions create uncomfortable situations. To continually overlook inappropriate behavior does not help the individual creating the issue or the society. Thanks for your thoughts and post!


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