Jim Hickey’s American Politics

Let's Get Real.

In-Person Bullying Is Still Worse Than the Internet Variety

Cyberbullying has been much in the news lately. It has gotten bad enough in certain instances for some deaths in the U.S. to have been attributed to it. A study published by the American Psychological Association, however, has indicated that despite these few extremely bad episodes, cyberbullying is generally not as emotionally harmful to kids as the in-person kind. Instances of bullying that use technology are far less likely to involve a social power difference such as the stereotypical schoolyard bully who physically towers over his or her hapless victim. They are also less likely to have occurred numerous times.

Protecting their kids while they are online is something parents like Matt Landis already know they need to do. Typically, however, they need to protect them from pornography or adult sexual predators. Having to protect them from other kids is an unsettling dimension to this problem. Still, those of us who grew up before the internet would definitely prefer being made fun of or harassed over an internet connection from someone on the other side of town or perhaps another state. The scariest episodes of bullying are typically those where the person making the threats or making fun of you is standing right there and can physically make good on any threats. First, selling books and pornography moved to the internet, and now bullying is making inroads there. One wonders what else we never used to associate with the internet will find a new home there.

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