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Running Head: CYBER BULLYING HURTS THE BULLY TOO

Cyber bullying Hurts the Bully Too


Melinda Montes
University of St. Thomas

Running Head: CYBER BULLYING HURTS THE BULLY TOO


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Cyberbullying Hurts the Bully Too


Words can cut like a knife, and they can leave deeper scars than any physical wound.
The rise in cyberbullying cases and cyberbullying related suicides is a terrifying reality. Whats
worse is these cases have many victims feeling the repercussions. Naturally the victims, their
families, and friends are all dealing with the effects, but most people often overlook the person
who is probably dealing with the most consequences. The bully. Cyberbullies dont always get
much sympathy from the world and rightfully so. However, everyone knows in order to get to
the root of the problem; you must go to the main source. The bully is the main source. The bully
is not only usually dealing with his/her own emotional turmoil, but they have a host of other
problems they will have to deal with when all is said and done. It is important they dont get
forgotten in the list of victims, because many times they will be the ones suffering long after the
victim has moved on.
When one pictures a cyberbully, one usually pictures someone hiding behind a computer.
The keyword is hiding. There is a reason cyberbullying has seen such a dramatic increase in
recent years. The computer is the perfect tool for anonymous harassment and torture. Many
studies have suggested teenagers are not developing empathy skills as they once were.
Psychiatrist Gary Small says, The digital world has rewired teen brains and made them less able
to recognize and share feelings of happiness, sadness or anger. (Oldham & Willen, 2011) When
you combine that fact with the realization that cyberbullies rarely interact with their victim in
person, and youve got a perfect storm. Back in the day a bully had to face their victim and see

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the victims reaction. They had to see the pain they were causing this person. Today, a bully
never has to deal with that reality, so they are becoming even more desensitized to other peoples
emotions and pain. The more a cyberbully engages in this behavior, the harder it is going to be
for them later in life to develop those important social skills. They are setting themselves up to
lead an even more miserable adult life. Their future careers, spouses, and families will all
continue to suffer at the hands of the aggressor. Traditional bullies obviously have to lack
empathic traits because, as stated earlier, they had to deal with their victims reactions face to
face. To be able to watch someone suffer or in pain and not feel any sympathy obviously is the
work of someone who lacks empathy skills. Cyber bullying is an entirely different beast. The
anonymity of it is extremely dangerous. Cyber bullying is an often 24/7 process of torment.
Cyber bullies can constantly harass and torment their victim while never getting a single reaction
from the victim. The cyber bully then feels the need to multiply the cyber bullying in hopes of
getting a reaction. It is a vicious cycle and one that can only end badly.
In order to fully understand why cyber bullies do what they do, you have to actually
study the cyber bully. One doesnt have to be a student of counseling to know when someone
abuses another person, there are underlying causes and reasons for it. It is a widely known and
accepted fact abusers usually come from a home where abuse was tolerated. Cyber bullying is a
form of abuse. In other words, the cyber bully is suffering too. My daughter has a giant heart,
which makes her an easy target for bullies. She has often come home from school crying
because someone said something mean or hurtful to her. My response to her has always been the
same. I always remind her that person is obviously dealing with something painful that we know
nothing about. Normally people arent just mean to be mean. They are usually masking some
sort of pain and feel the need to lash out at others who are vulnerable. There was one instance

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where she came home the next day after I had given her that speech, and she said, Mom, guess
what? I spoke to Alexandra today. (The bully.) I asked her if she was okay and if everything
was okay at home. Do you know what she told me, Mom? She told me her dad was in jail. I
felt so bad for her. She started crying and said she was sorry for being mean to me yesterday. I
remember how genuinely heartsick my daughter was, and it made me so proud to know her
empathy barometer was in working order. It was an enlightening moment for her, but it was also
a very empowering moment for her. Ever since then, whenever someone says something hurtful
to her, she comes home and tells me, So and so said something mean today, Mom, but shes
probably just going through something, right? She has learned to accept that sometimes people
are just going to hurt her, but thats their problem, not hers. That is their cross to bear. She
understands as long as she is happy and healthy, no one else can steal her joy. So with that
example, I think if we want to find out why a cyber bully is acting out in this way, we have to
counsel them just as much as we counsel the victim. We have to find out what is happening in
their life and in their home. Then, and only then, will we get to the heart of the problem.
So if a cyber bully lacks empathy and is usually fighting his own personal demons, we
have to ask, what can we do? Studies have shown cyber bullies exhibit other issues as well.
Many exhibit other delinquent behavior, suffer from substance abuse, and suffer from depression.
It is important for someone to intervene before the problems escalate and there is no point of
return. Cyber bullies can vary in age, but the most prevalent time for a cyber bully is the
adolescent phase. Middle school students are more prone to be victims and perpetrators of cyber
bullying. The good thing is it seems much of it subsides once they get to high school. They
have many other issues to deal with and other things to worry about, so it usually dramatically
decreases. It is important for parents and school personnel to take action while it is in their

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power to. Education is key! More funding needs go to raising awareness, education, and
prevention of cyber bullying. More and more schools are having school counselors hold school
wide trainings on the cyber bullying phenomenon. Students and staff need to know how to deal
with theses situations. Parents and counselors also need to have one on one counseling sessions
with the cyber bully, so they can deal with their issues and problems. Many times they are
simply looking for an outlet for that anger or sadness. It just takes an individual to recognize the
problem and offer a solution.
Cyber bully is a term no one should want to be associated with, and hopefully most wont
ever have to. However, it is our responsibility as a society to help those in need whenever we
can. Its not only about helping the victim. Its about helping anyone who is hurting. The cyber
bully is hurting. Until we can recognize and accept that, we wont ever find an end to this
problem. These misunderstood individuals have a life that matters too. We should want them to
be able to overcome this, come out on the other side, and succeed in life. Most of all, we should
want them to be able to live a happy existence as well. Everyone deserves the chance to be
happy. Even the bully.

Butler, D., Campbell, M.A., Kift, S., Slee, P.T., & Spears, B. (2013). Do cyberbullies suffer
too? Cyberbullies perceptions of the harm they cause to others and to their own mental
health. School Psychology International, 34(6), 613-629.
Oldham, J., & Willen, L. (2011). Are texting, multitasking teens losing empathy skills? Some
differing views. (Ed.), The Hechinger Report (June 2011 ed.). Retrieved from
hechingered.org/are-texting-multitasking-teens-losing-empathy-skills-some-differing

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