The Meaning of Cyberbullying and the Purpose for This Report
Cyberbullying is a new way in which students, and sometimes adults, choose to harass or verbally assault another student or adult. It can take on many forms, like direct messaging on social media sites like “facebook,” “twitter,” or ever growingly more popular “snapchat.” Indirect messages about the victim can be posted on the assailants page without the victim even knowing about it until after the whole school is made aware. Far more rare, moreover far more disgusting, is when a physical attack on the victim occurs, is filmed, and then posted online, or shared via group messages on the phone. To make matters even scarier, the Supreme Court, earlier this year, ruled on a case, virtually making it impossible to make social media, other than email or text messages, to be admissible in any court for the purpose of proving that harassment has occurred.
How This Report Will Affect the Readers
This report will affect the readers in multiple ways. It will help to bring light on a growing problem. Provide students with the information they need to know about cyberbullying, and hopefully provide instructors with enough adequate information to know when cyberbullying may, in fact, be occurring, and arm these instructors with the tools needed to potentially sit down with a student when the signs are recognized to see what is needed to resolve the situation. The Supreme Court (wusa-9.com, 2014) may have ruled that social media is not admissible in courts, but that does not mean that there cannot be consequences in a school setting. Moreover, hopefully by showing the results of the surveys and research conducted, students who have participated on the negative end of cyberbullying can see the harm they have caused, and might want to rethink how they act in the future. Hopefully the victims will know that they are not being ignored.
It is no longer kids being stupid and knocking over a kids lunch tray, or the after-school fight in the playground. The days of good old-fashioned bullying and abusive hazing are over, and have been replaced by new forms of bullying, forms that completely dehumanize the victim, often times leading to severe injury, severe, self injury, lifelong mental and emotional instabilities, and even suicide.
According to the huge development in the internet in the 21st century, it leads the whole world to the next stage of development, changing everyone’s living habits. When the time that social media became more common to the world, people could contact others with more convenience and more effectively, which prevents the delay from distance, via social media. Moreover, social media allows people to share their thought to their friends and even strangers.
Unfortunately, the increased use of social media as the primary source of communication is directly related to the increased aggression and bullying of others. Based upon the statistics from National Center for Education Statistics, there has a huge increase in numbers of students reported being cyberbullied-from 6.2% in 2009 to 9% in 2011.
The fact that occurs increased in aggression and bullying is the account creating for accessing social media only require few information about the user. People leaving comments with rude and violent without responsibility caused a big wound to the objects. The worst case scenarios end up in suicide. Many of these are by the LGBTQ community. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (c 2015) and Stern (2014), 46 percent of trans men and 42 percent of trans women in the United States have attempted suicide. This is compared to the national average of 4.6%. One of the most notable cases of this was the suicide of Megan Meier, at the age of twelve, because she was being cyberbullied by the parent of a girl who felt Megan was ignoring (Meier Foundation, 2015)
The Way the Issue Will Be Presented
The issue of cyberbullying will be presented to the reader methodically and scientifically, with original methods and data introduced by myself, and I will include reports, statistics, and data from other sources that will substantiate what I have found.
The main objective of my research is to understand why people be more aggressive on the internet atmosphere. The next step is to find out what kind of platform people use most to share their thoughts, via random-order survey questions to analyze the reason why people are more aggressive, and do so with as much accuracy as possible.
With a better understanding of the reason of the aggressive comments in social media, the research will move to the next objective: finding out how many people have ever suffered from the comments on social media, and get a better idea of what kind of comments made them suffer the most in order to help with the last objective be more accurate.
The last objective is find out the possible way to reduce cyberbullying in the future as a result of the research; suggestions will conclude with experts’ professional viewpoints, and from data retrieved from several reliable sources and compared with the results of our testing. From there, we will hedge off a discussion of what can be done, and what absolutely needs to be done, both on this campus, and in a larger context.
How the research and Survey Were Conducted
First of all, I will ask the marketing department of Washington State University to help with my surveys since the department has a mature system to provide surveys.
Second, I will collect the data from surveys randomly, on the campus of Washington State University, targeting included students, employees and professors.
Third, I will look at other studies and surveys conducted throughout the country, and inspect to see if anything has been done by the government to control this issue. In addition, I will explore the various mechanisms that sees social media sites have in terms of recourse for abusive conversations.
Fourth, I will contact administrators of difference social media via email, social media and phone call to collect as much as possible about the numbers of people have experienced cyberbullying. The data collected from those social media admins could help with the analysis of my second and last objective mentioned above.
In order to be accurate in the data collection from surveys, it is necessary to get help from the experienced department in the surveys area. Washington State University’s (WSU) marketing department provided a perfect place to students at WSU for getting help on survey constructing.
Constructing an effective survey is always the most important part of work, so that the very first thing I did is arranging a meeting with WSU’s marketing department in order to complete the survey as soon as possible. Fortunately, it took only a short time waiting for the responses from the marketing department. We had the first meeting the day afterward, although the survey completion took extra time because not many people were working in the department. During the meeting with them, I have noticed that the survey I brought was far from perfect, so I rewrote my surveys under their professional suggestion. In addition, the surveys became clearer and shorter which allowed people doing surveys with more enjoyment.
I started the survey collection immediately right after the completion of surveys. Since then, I have gathered data from given out surveys to random people in campus as the plan. So far I have already gathered 753 people’s surveys, yet it was falling behind my plan. However, people in campus was enjoying to do the survey for me since the survey is well written under the recommendation from the meeting with WSU marketing department.
Besides the work on survey construction and data collection via surveys, one of the main progress I presented at the proposal is gathering information about cyberbullying from the administrators from different social media platform. When the time I was arranging meeting with WSU marketing department, I researched the top social media online at the same time. The top social media included Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, Google Plus, Tumblr, Snapchat, Meetup, etc I tried to contact them with the administrator through the contact they left at the sites. There were a few administrators replied my message. I will definitely look for a new approach.
How Was Data Collected
Random Question Survey:
The Survey contained the following closed ended questions:
What is your status here at WSU?: Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior, Graduate, Post-Graduate, Faculty, Staff
What social media venues are you aware of?: Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Snapchat, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn
Have you ever felt bullied over any of these social media outlets? yes, no
What site(s) were you most likely to encounter bullying? (same choices as question 2)
Have you participated in actions that may have been perceived as hurtful via social media (remember this survey is anonymous): yes or no
do you identify as a minority racially? yes or no
do you identify as a member of the LGBT community? yes or no
has any abuse you may have encountered caused you to feel depressed? yes or no
Approximately twenty hours of online research to see what studies have been done regarding the issue at hand, whether or not there are solid data collection points, and whether there are viable solutions to the problem, such as in-school consequences, grade detriments, etc.
The first problem I met with was efficiency. On campus in the summer session is a lot slower than other times. I planned to complete writing the survey within two days, yet it ended up taking three days because the people working for the marketing department are fewer than the fall and spring semester.
The second issue was also time related and similar as the first problem. As I was already two weeks past my funding permission granted, only 753 surveys were gathered, far behind my expectation when I was writing my proposal. On the basis that the summer session in WSU has a lot fewer students taking classes in campus, I found it difficult to ask people to do surveys for me when the population in Pullman is low, unlike the fall and spring semesters. It absolutely slowed my step in moving to the next stage of my project.
The last problem I encountered is the difficulty of contacting the administrators of different social media. Based upon the platform of social media mostly contained their own mature system of message, it creates a complicated environment for me to contact them via e-mail or phone call. It took a lot more time to find out how to contact those administrators through their platform; in addition, a few social medias required extra time to register accounts in order to send private message to the administrators.
What is your status here at WSU?:
Freshman: 38 (5%); Sophomores: 37 (5%); Juniors: 151 (20%) Seniors: 188 (25%);
Graduate: 105 (14%); Postgraduate 151 (20%); Faculty: 75 (10%) Staff: 8 (1%)
What social media venues are you aware of?:
Facebook - 100%, Twitter - 100%, Google Plus - 58%, Snapchat - 47%, Pinterest - 73%, Instagram - 70%, LinkedIn - 20%
Have you ever felt bullied over any of these social media outlets? yes, no
yes - 512 (68%); no - 241, (32%)
What site(s) were you most likely to encounter bullying? (same choices as question 2, only for people who answered yes)
Facebook - 100%, Twitter - 90%, Google Plus - 84%, SnapChat - 70%, Pinterest - 0%,
Instagram - 10%, LinkedIn - 0%
Have you participated in actions that may have been perceived as hurtful via social media (remember this survey is anonymous):
yes - 48%; no - 52%
do you identify as a minority racially?
yes - 32%; no - 63%; no answer - 5%
do you identify as a member of the LGBT community?
yes - 8% no - 79%; no answer - 12%
has any abuse you may have encountered caused you to feel depressed? (for those who answered yes)
yes - 73%; no- 25%; no answer - 2%
According to nobullying.com (2015), the main reasons for cyberbullying are as follows:
1- People with weight problems
2- People with Disabilities
3- People who belong to racial or religious minorities
4- People who are LGBTQ or perceived as LGBTQ
This is a great chart indicating what types of bullying take place across a plane of ages, socio-ecomonic classes etc, by Docstoc.com:
What Was Learned
I learned that although there is extensive research done on suicide and its prevention, outside of this study, and probably other university studies/surveys done, not much is really known about the true impact of cyberbullying.
I found that though many people were honest on this very private and quick survey, under other circumstances, cyberbullying goes underreported. I wish that in a broader scope, I could find ways to measure the reasons for why this is so; will add more subjectiveness in discussion.
I learned that cyberbullying is a huge problem here on campus, but questions were not asked regarding whether the bullying took place before or after coming here, and whether the assailants were also people that went to go to school here, though, the the survey indicates, assuming honesty, that at least a good portion of the cyberbullying that may be occurring here.
Conclusion and Discussion of Results
Perhaps the most shocking part of this research is how little concreteness there is regarding cyberbullying. I was saddened that the survey conducted was the most finite we could find, and even then, it was largely inconclusive for the reasons discussed above. I have been a victim of cyberbullying myself before coming to WSU, and when I reported it, I was met with doubt and a feeling of uncertainty on the part of faculty and parents on how to handle what happened. It is very clear that with easier access to other people in a much more personal way, bullying has become easier than ever for the bullies, and it seems to be out of control. Without consequences of some kind, it will continue to be just as big of an issue.
More studies need to be conducted throughout universities, high schools, and even grade schools, so we can come up with more concrete results of how big of a problem cyberbullying is, why is it such a problem.
Psychologists and Sociologists need to be invited into this battle more, to get behind why the targets (those being bullied) are being bullied. Considering the demographics that get bullied, we need to look into the minds of those doing the bullying. Perhaps rehabilitative steps, and harsher consequences will allow for these students to really consider the potential harm they are causing their fellow students.
Not mentioned in the survey results for the sake of this paper already being way too long, is the breakdown of age groups. Those who were in the graduate - faculty and staff range, although making up about half of the survey numbers, also accounted for the least amount of cyber-abuse (and thus were excluded from answering a lot of the more important survey questions), suggesting a gap between educational level and such abuse. Some of the postgraduate students and faculty appeared to be members of my generation, however age was not a question in the survey.
Furthermore, more conclusive results, we can make more suggestions to faculty about how to respond to clear incidents of bullying on college campuses, high schools and grade schools. Having more concrete evidence of the damage done to the individuals who are victims of cyberbullying can lead us to knowing how to better give the support that these victims need, both as fellow students, and as faculty.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. www.afsp.org. Our effectiveness in preventing
suicide ultimately depends on more fully understanding how and why suicide occurs. 2015. Web. 2015.
Contributors. www.nobullying.com. The Complicated Web Of Teen Lives. 2015 Bullying
Report. June 2015. Web. 2015.
Bohanna I. & Wang X. Media guidelines for the responsible reporting of suicide: a
review of effectiveness. Crisis: Journal of Crisis Intervention & Suicide, 33(4): 190–8. 2012. Print. 2015.
Burdine, N. www.wusa9.com/. Supreme Court hears social media and free speech case.
TEGNA Company (Washington D.C.). Dec. 2014. Web. 2015
Megan Meier Foundation. MEGAN TAYLOR MEIER. Meganmeierfoundation.org. 2015
Public Domain. www.docstoc.com. Bullying Behavior chart. June 2010. Web. 2015
Stern, M. www.slate.com. What Drives So Many Trans* People to Suicide?. Jan 2014.