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Research Proposal: Cyber Bullying and Cyber Stalking

Alisha Brooke Culbertson
Missouri Southern State University


Cyber bullying and cyber stalking has recently emerged as a new form of bullying and
harassment in todays society. Since it is a new form of harassment, and it is becoming a serious
problem worldwide, it is important that we learn the reasons for bullying over the internet, the
psychological effects of the bully and the victim, the motives of the cyber bullies, who are being
targeted, and engagement of cyber bullying.
Keywords: bullying, internet, cyber, computer-mediated communication


Cyber Bullying and Cyber Stalking
The (relatively) recent explosion in casual exchange of personal information following
the growth of sophisticated social networking platforms, the logical successors to more basic
Internet chat-rooms, opens further the possibility of acquiring an unwanted connection with an
obsessive party (Saltera & Bryden, 2009, p. 99). With these new social networking website
becoming such a significant aspect of our lives, it is important to study cyber bullying, the
motives of these cyber bullies, and who, exactly, is being targeted. In this paper, I will cover
each of these subjects in great detail and hope to shed some light on this issue that is growing in
todays society.
According to recent surveys, cyber bullying and cyber stalking is starting to become an
invasive problem in the United States (Dilmac, 2009). Unlike school bullying, where the victim
can get away from it once the school day is over, with cyber bullying, the victim can be
constantly harassed through text messages or emails wherever they are (Slonje & Smith, 2008).
In a survey conducted by Ybarra and Mitchell (2004), more than 1,500 children, 1017 years
old, who were all regular internet users were questioned. The results showed that in the past year,
12% of the children reported being aggressive to someone online, 4% were the targets of the
aggression, and 3% were both aggressors and targets (Yabarra & Michell, 2004). Learning more
about cyber bullying and cyber stalking is significant because, according to Salter and Bryden,
It is an inevitable consequence of plausible anonymity and
deliberately lax regulation that the potential for virtual
harassment or cyber-stalking, with the attendant possibility
of threats, alarm, distress, slander and physical danger that

go hand in hand with real world harassment, will increase the more
widely available access to the Internet (Salter & Bryden,
2009, pg. 99)

Literature Review
According to Dilmac (2009), Over the past decade, technology has been increasingly
important in the lives of adolescents. Adolescents are heavy users of electronic communication
such as instant messaging, e-mail, and text messaging. They are heavy users of communication-
oriented internet sites such as blogs, social networking, and sites for sharing photos and videos
(Dilmac, 2009, pg. 1308).
Although technology and internet sites offer helpful connections to friends and family, it
also offers the potential to meet and interact with others in harmful ways (Dilmac, 2009, pg.
1308). Dilmac describes cyber bullying as an individual or a group willfully using information
and communication involving electronic technologies to facilitate deliberate and repeated
harassment or threat to another individual or group by sending or posting cruel text and/or
graphics using technological means (Dilmac, 2009, pg. 1308). In the study, Dilmac describes
the differences and similarities between traditional bullying and cyber bullying.
Traditional bullies are known by others in school or in the
workplace. However, in most cases, cyber bullies are
anonymous... In traditional bullying, children who are considered
overweight, physically weak, disabled, or unpopular are often
targeted. However, all students are potential victims of cyber

bullying aimed at inflicting unwarranted hurt and embarrassment
on unsuspecting victims. (Dilmac, 2009, pg. 1309).
He also describes the psychological characteristics of bullies and victims. Adolescent
bullies usually have high emotionality and low self-control, they are proactively and
reactively aggressive and use proactive aggression to establish dominance and leadership in
their peer groups (Dilmac, 2009, pg. 1309-1310). Victims also usually have a negative attitude
towards violence, they are usually physically weaker, and they tend to be close to their parents
(Dilmac, 2009, pg. 1310). Bullies often come from homes where physical punishment is used,
and were parental involvement and warmth are often lacking (Dilmac, 2009, pg. 1310).
Although bullies are often fully aware of their victims feelings, they dont allow those feelings
affect them. Victims of bullying generally manifest internalizing psychological problems such
as depression, loneliness, low self-esteem, school phobias, and social anxiety (Dilmac, 2009,
pg. 1310). It also may cause the victims nightmares, anxiety, a sense of helplessness, and fear
for safety (Pollard & Moriarty, 2009).
According to Pollard and Moriarty, cyber bullying is highly underreported. According to
their study in 2002, they found that victims failed to report the offense because they didnt think
it was serious enough (72%), [they] werent sure if the incident was actually criminal (44.6%),
and [they] believed that the police would not think it was a serious offense (33.6%) (Pollard &
Moriarty, 2009, pg. 439). As Chibbaro (2007) states, most school students who engage in cyber
bullying are considered social climber bullies. These are students who have high social class
who bully within the context of interrelationships of the in-crowd, the wannabes (those who
want to be a part of the in-crowd), and the losers (Chibbaro, 2007, pg. 65). These bullies are
frequently overlooked by teachers and administrators because they are usually the leaders in the

school and are favored by administration (Chibbaro, 2007). The victims in a school setting
usually do not report cyber bullying to adults because they would never gain the social
acceptance or high social status or because they often fear retaliation (Chibbaro, 2007).
Since cyber bullying is not face-to-face, the gender balance in bullying might be skewed
more towards girls than is found for conventional bullying (Slonje & Smith, 2008, pg. 149).
Smith et al. (2006) found that girls are more likely to be cyber bullied than boys. Although, in a
different study, there were no gender differences found for being the victim but that cyber
bullying others was nearly twice as high in boys rather than in girls (Li, 2006).
It is important to study these things to get a better understanding about what cyber
bullying actually is, as well as, the characteristics of the bullies and the victims. We need to
learn the different aspects of cyber bullying so we can try to prevent it as much as possible. It is
also important to learn the characteristics of the bullies as well as the victims so we can prevent it
from happening to our children, friends, or family, also, so we can identify and punish the bully,
if needed.

Research Question
Have the privacy settings on social networking sites, such as on Facebook, helped stop cyber
bullying? (i.e. Block this user or Report this photo, etc.)


Chibbaro, J. (2007). School counselors and the cyberbully: Interventions and
implications. Professional School Counseling. 11. 1. 65.
Dilmac, B. (2009). Psychological needs as a predictor of cyber bullying: A preliminary
report on college students. 1307-1325.
Li, Q. (2006). Cyberbullying in schools: A research of gender differences. School Psychology
International, 27. 157-170.
Pollard, N. & Moriarty, L. (2009) Cyberstalking: Utilizing what we do know. 435-451.
Salter, M. & Bryden C. (2009). I can see you: Harassment and stalking on the internet.
Information & Communications Technology Law,18, 2, 99-122.
Slonje, R. & Smith, P. (2008). Cyber bullying: Another main type of bullying?
Scandinavian Journal of Psychology. 49. 147-154.
Smith, P. K., Mahdavi, J., Carvalho, M. & Tippett, N. (2006). An investigation into
cyberbullying, its forms, awareness and impact and the relationship between age and
gender in cyberbullying. Research Brief No. RBX03-06. DfES, London.
Ybarra, M. L. & Mitchell, K. J. (2004). Online aggressor/targets, aggressors, and
targets: A comparison of associated youth characteristics. Journal of Child Psychology
and Psychiatry, 45, 13081316.