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Brianna Lopez
December 17,2014
English Research Paper
The Harmful Effects of Cyberbullying
The internet has brought numerous positive benefits to the world yet with so many
positives it is also fair to say that the number of negative influences also continues to grow. In
todays society one of the most harmful things experienced by internet users is cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying is an intentional harmful act by one individual upon another through the use of
cyber technology. Computer, smartphone, and tablet screens allow cyberbullies to anonymously
target their victims. Cyberbullies use cell phones, internet, social media and chat rooms to
emotional harm others. Cyberbullying is a negative and repetitive action used to bully, harass,
intimidate, or terrorize another people. This is especially common amongst adolescents. There
are different ways that adolescents can bully one another using the internet. These online attacks
may seem harmless but may cause irreparable damage to victims both emotionally and
physically. Since this type of harassment is done behind a screen it can be difficult for parents
and communities to control and understand.
(http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/talk/cyberbullying.html)
As accessibility and everyones capability of using the internet continues to grow so does
cyberbullying. In teens this online aggression is very common and growing. 25 percent of
teenagers admit to having experienced repeated bullying through their computers and/or cell
phones. 11 percent of teenagers have had an embarrassing picture posted of them online without
their permission. 55 percent of teens using social media have experienced bullying on those same
sites and 95 percent of them have not done anything about it. Even out of those that reach out

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for help are usually intimidated. About 33 percent of teens who file a complaint about the
bullying receive threats afterwards. These online attacks seem harmless but in reality it can make
victims more likely to have self-esteem issues and might even lead them to commit suicide
(http://nobullying.com/cyber-bullying-statistics-2014/).
Some states use specific terms to reference the different types of cyberbullying. Specific
language for specific actions also helps states to enforce laws against cyberbullying. Cyber
Harassment is another word sometimes used for Cyberbullying. Cyberharassment usually
involves sending threatening or harassing emails and messages. Some states qualify cyber
harassment charges at the same level as general harassment laws. Yet other states strictly
differentiate between cyberharassment and general harassment. Also specified is the act of
Cyberstalking. This is the action of using the internet to stalk victims and usually includes a
pattern of malicious behaviors. This type of cyberbullying is sometimes even considered the
most dangerous form of cyberbullying.
(http://www.ncsl.org/research/telecommunications-and-information-technology/cyberstalkingand-cyberharassment-laws.aspx)
Adolescents who have experienced cyberbullying are introduced to the physiological
effects of feeling completely powerless over their own emotions. Teens who become victims
begin isolating themselves. They even grow a fear of going to school because their personal
information was made public to humiliate them in front of everyone else. The reason an
aggressor enjoys harassing their targets is because a cyber-bully feels as if they have no control
over their own lives. They at times are dealing with their own self-esteem issues. This makes
them feel the need to control other peoples actions and emotions whom they consider weaker

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than themselves. As cyber bullying continues the victim may experience depression and stress.
These symptoms might even push a victim to consider suicide. As time passes most victims will
have an increasingly low self-esteem which can lead to physical illnesses such as headaches,
insomnia, and other serious health disorders. Cyberbullying uses computer and cellphone screens
to set the stage for attacks. It uses fake profiles on instant messenger, chat rooms, message
boards, emails, social networking sites, and other web pages to attack others anonymously.
Bullies impersonate their victims online and cross all privacy boundaries. Social networks gives
adolescents the ability to post nasty comments including humiliating images and videos.
(http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/talk/cyberbullying.html)
The biggest mistake that adolescents make is forgetting that once something goes online
it is impossible to get back. Everything that is posted online becomes accessible to others. This is
one of the biggest dangers of the World Wide Web. Being online opens the doors to getting
cyberstalked. Tormentors access a person's account details to send unpleasant messages or even
to generate accounts in their victims name. Social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, emails, chat
rooms, instant messaging, etc. were created to make communication easier, but in many cases it
has actually had the reverse effect. In a world where communication is so accessible behind a
computer screen it has become nearly impossible to have a genuine face to face conversation.
((http://www.ncsl.org/research/telecommunications-and-information-technology/cyberstalkingand-cyberharassment-laws.aspx))
This sense of loneliness has been seen in so many cases in todays generation. In a
startling case that occurred in April of 2014 fifteen year old Amanda Todd committed suicide.
The story of Amanda Todd began when she met an anonymous person on Facebook who

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convinced her to flash her topless body to him. That person later used those images to destroy
her reputation. After the publication of her images she lost all her friends. This situation
continued to spiral out of control as she was being harassed online. These images quickly went
beyond her school and community. The photos were exposed to everyone online by this
anonymous person who had originally posed as a friend. This situation was devastating for her
she began to feel rejected and hated by everyone around her. Prior to her death, Amanda Todd
created a YouTube video using a series of flashcards to tell her story. In her cards she wrote I
was all alone and left on the ground. This was after she began in a new school when a group of
girls from her previous school found her and viciously beat her down. A harmless case of
online attacks led to her assault and eventual suicide. This was a sad case that quickly escalated
and showed that cyberbullying does not stay on a computer screen. It follows its victims into
multiple aspects of their lives. (http://nobullying.com/amanda-todd-story/)
Another case that had occurred on September 9, 2014 was in regards to a 12-year old
from Florida named Rebecca Sedwick. Rebecca committed suicide by jumping off of a cement
factory tower. Rebecca was also a victim who had been bullied. She had been terrorized for
months by multiple girls through online messages and texts. After further reading about this case,
it was discovered that the main girl responsible for the bullying could not even have charges
brought against her. At the time it was said that it was highly unusual for charges to be put
against adolescents for these types of assaults. These situations have changed as online assaults
are

now

in

most

states

recognized

and

punishable

by

law.

(http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/18/living/rebecca-sedwick-bullying-suicide-follow-parents/)
Many parents have taken great initiative towards stopping cyberbullying by supervising
what their children does on the internet. Parents should be aware to ensure their child is not being

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harassed and also that their child is not a cyberbully themselves. Parents have brought these
vigorous behaviors to the attention of school boards, and the government. Parents and supporters
have made school boards and the government more aware of cyberbullying and the harm it can
bring to youth. To decrease incidents like this from happening in schools parents, teachers, and
students should take an initiative to confirm any threats a student may receive. Any type of
online intimidations should be considered unacceptable. It is very important that parents and any
other authorities understand that cyber-victims are suffering. Most importantly they should
realize that

the consequences of these technological attacks can be very dangerous.

(http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/talk/cyberbullying.html)
Cyberbullying may be impossible to escape but there are steps that can be taken to
help prevent it. First of all it is important to understand what is going on. Adolescents
should reach out to friends, family, or trusted adults for help. Unfortunately the biggest
betrayals come from those closest to the victims. Passwords and personal information
should never be posted publicly even to those considered best friends. Teens should
also always remember to logout of any sites that are password protected. As mentioned
before, teenagers need to remember that any photos that they post online remain on the
internet forever. They should always remember to keep them modest. A negative post
could quickly lead to cyberbullying and a compromised reputation. Any messages or
links from unknown sources should be avoided. Even just opening them could plant a
virus in a computer that accesses personal information. Parents should remember that
adolescents may not always have the best judgment. Because of this there are privacy
settings that they can be set up as well as regularly checking on their son or daughters
profile. A responsible internet user should regularly google themselves to see if any

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personal information is public that could be used by cyberbullies to target them. Many
have experienced the pain and frustration of cyberbullying. Internet should be used
responsibly and not for the intentional harming of others. Any actions used to inflict
emotional pain, or actions not taken to stop those events are examples of cyberbullying,
cyber harassment, and cyberstalking.
(http://www.cyberbullying.us/Top_Ten_Tips_Teens_Prevention.pdf)
Today state and local lawmakers have all taken action to help stop cyberbullying.
Individual states have different laws that address cyberbullying. Laws can be applied to both
adults and juveniles. In the state of Rhode Island cyberbullying itself has passed laws against
both Cyberstalking and Cyberbullying. Cyberstalking is recognized as a Domestic assault under
chapter 8-8.1 section 8-8.1-1. Cyber Stalking and cyber harassment are both also considered to
be computer crimes in chapter 11-52 section 11-52-4.2 of Rhode Island state law. These types of
attacks can be punished with up to 2 years in prison and/or a $6000 dollar fine.
(http://www.ncsl.org/research/telecommunications-and-information-technology/cyberstalkingand-cyberharassment-laws.aspx)
Depression was not always considered an illness. But it is now recognized as
something very serious. Cyberbullying was also not alway recognized as a vicious attack. But it
is now recognized as a crime. Cyber attacks themselves can lead a vulnerable teenager to
experience symptoms of sadness, unexplained crying, changes in appetite, changes in sleeping
patterns, and recurring thoughts of death or suicide. All of those symptoms fall under depression.
Going even further depression may even develop into Dysthymia which is known to be as a
major form depression. It is sometimes called a double depression. During dysthymia a person

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may go through several stages of depressive moods that last for long periods of time. Dysthymia
symptoms include having low-self esteem, low self confidence, and a social withdrawal from
others. If any of these symptoms are even minimally recognized they should be addressed
immediately. Depression and dysthymia are not harmless and neither is cyber bullying.
(http://www.allaboutdepression.com/dia_04.html)

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WORKS CITED
"All About Depression: Diagnosis." All About Depression:Diagnosis. All about Self Help.
11 Jan. 2015. Web. 08 Jan. 2015. <http://www.allaboutdepression.com/dia_04.html>

NCSL National Conference of State Legislature. Www.ncsl.org/research/telecommunicationsand-information-technology/

cyberstalking-and-cyberharrassment-

laws.aspx.<http://www.ncsl.org/research/telecommunications-and-informationtechnology/cyberstalking-and-cyberharassment-laws.aspx>
Wallace, Kelly. Police File Raises Questions about Bullying in Rebecca Sedwicks SuicideCNN.com.

Cable

News

Network,

n.d.

web.

11

Jan,2015.

<http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/18/living/rebecca-sedwick-bullying-suicide-follow-parents/>.
Acceptable,. Behavior is, Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D. Is an Associates Professor at Florida Atlantic
University And, Justin W. Ph.D, is an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin, and
Claire Eau. Together, They Lecture across the United States and Abroad On The. Preventing
Cyberbullying.Jan.2012.<http://www.cyberbullying.us/Top_Ten_Tips_Teens_Prevention.pdf.
Depression.DBSA
Alliance.
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<http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?

Cyber Bullying Statistics 2014. No Bullying. <http://nobullying.com/cyber-bullying-statistics2014/>.


Policies and Laws. Stop Bullying. <http://www.stopbullying.gov/laws>.
Cyber Bullying. Kids Health. <http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/talk/cyberbullying.html>.

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