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Cyberbullying: The Real and Present Danger


From time immemorial, human beings have tried, with varying degrees of success, to impose themselves on others, with a view to profit from the reactions that their offensive and slanderous overtures result in. Face-to-face bullying can be traced back to ancient civilizations when both kings and paupers alike resorted to domineering ways to further their gains in society, politics, and other fields.

The advent of Social Media, however, and the significant inroads it has made in our lives, has spawned the growth of an almost mutant-like form of bullying, commonly known today as cyberbullying or online harassment.

What it is?

UNICEF (1) defines Cyberbullying as bullying a person using digital technologies. Directed at frightening, provoking, or shaming a victim, it is perpetrated by pranksters on social media, messaging platforms, gaming platforms, and mobile phones. Typical methods used can range from spreading gossip, posting sensitive or embarrassing images, sending derogatory messages and threats, impersonating a victim, and sending inflammatory messages to others on their behalf.

It would not be out of place to say that cyberbullying is a direct offshoot of the digital addiction that afflicts all of us, particularly teenagers and youth. Consequently, most of the studies on cyberbullying concern this age group who rely on Social Media (2) to communicate with friends, source information, share their creativity and opinions, and entertain themselves in times of boredom.

PEW Research Center (3) in a 2022 report says cyberbullying is mainly characterized by the following types of behavior directed at the victims

  • Offensive name-calling
  • Spreading of false rumors about them
  • Sending explicit images, they didn’t ask for
  • Making physical threats
  • Persistently querying the victim as to his or her whereabouts, companions, and state of engagement

It runs deep

Forbes (4) traces the evolution of the menace back to 2012, a year when just 42% of teenagers in the educational system possessed smartphones. In 2018, this percentage was up to a whopping 89% (a figure that would be redundant today with every student in the educational system owning at least one device).

With Social Media now an integral part of their lives – offering teenagers (by their own admission) a panacea for their loneliness and a fulfilling outlet for their creative abilities and personality impulses – it is almost natural that cyberbullying has found in it a firm foundation. Perpetrators, aided by the anonymity and wide/instant reach that Social Media affords, can now wreak psychological and physical damage on their hapless victims, far more severe than that by conventional face-to-face bullying.

The statistics speak for themselves. The PEW Report (3) states that approximately 46% of teenagers in the USA in the age group 13 to 17 report experiencing at least one cyberbullying behavior, while overall an alarming 28% of teenagers have experienced multiple types of cyberbullying. The report goes on to state that the menace applies equally to adults and addresses areas ranging from physical appearance, gender and sexuality, race, relationships, and political views.

The awareness is there

Today, thanks to awareness campaigns and in some cases, personal experiences, the threat posed by the unchecked use of the internet by children and youth is arguably a bit mitigated. Parents and teachers alike are sensitized to the menace of their wards not only being cyberbullied but also indulging in online crimes, trolling, impersonation, and vices like gaming and extortion.  Schools, governments, and independent organizations are attempting to raise awareness about cyberbullying and online stalking.

UNICEF (1) says that globally there is a mixed suite of cyberbullying laws, with some countries having specific laws that offer relief to victims of online harassment, but other countries having to rely on other laws to call out and punish cyberbullies.

But perhaps the greatest hope lies in the awareness that exists amongst most youth today. Affecting both celebrities – even stars from the celluloid and music world like Adele, Emma Watson, and Taylor Swift have not been spared – and common people, Cyberbullying is being viewed as a major problem in their lives, by the youth themselves. The PEW Report states that as many as 53% of the respondents in the survey were able to identify online harassment and online bullying as a major problem.

Checking the menace

With the cyberbullying canvas extending to adults as well, organizations too have felt the need to ramp up their policies concerning this growing menace. There is certainly no dearth of examples of online harassment being perpetrated on fellow workers and senior executives.

Forbes (5) suggests organizations implement some of these measures to counter the threat and dissuade employees from indulging in this behavior.

  • Taking a zero-tolerance stance against any discrimination, harassment, or bullying, backed up by robust HR policies and effective training
  • Creating a culture of ‘no bullies’, and holding employees accountable for their behavior
  • Immediately actioning remediation processes for cases reported/observed
  • Establishing policies for online working and forums for regular/open feedback
  • Ensuring employees feel comfortable and safe when reporting inappropriate behavior/threats/perceived threats
  • Creating a culture of curiosity and discovery where all levels of employees can exchange views on bullying and harassment 

Final Words

Today with almost 80% (5.5 billion) of the world’s population and a similar percentage of all teenagers (1.1 billion) using the internet – the digital platform that is breeding cybercrime – it is unlikely that the menace will go away anytime soon. Even a country like India (3), where computer literacy is being still taught at the grassroots level, has leapfrogged other nations into the top position for cyberbullying cases, thanks to the exceedingly high number of internet users. The increasing amount of time being spent on Social Media by youth and teenagers in particular, the proliferation of IoT devices (6), and a burgeoning global cybercrime rate (7), do not present a favorable outcome for the threat.

However, there’s a glimmer of hope, thanks to our own technology. The digital footprint left by the cyberbully could be a significant clue leading to their identification. Hopefully, in combination with strong awareness campaigns, forums, and laws to repress perpetrators, and a stronger human psyche in the coming years, we will find an answer to this seemingly, all-pervasive malady.


Contact us at or call 888-282-0696 to learn more about how Aurora can help your organization with IT, consulting, compliance, assessments, managed services, or cybersecurity needs.

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