Equal Opportunity Cyberbullying
An recent interview on The Chronicle of Higher Education's website suggests cyberbullies are more difficult to identify than face-to-face bullies because technology acts as a "great equalizer" in diminishing the role of physical strength.
That's according to Tony L. Talbert, an associate professor of education at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Talbert joined Ikuko Aoyama, a doctoral candidate in educational psychology at the school, to discuss Aoyama's research on sex differences in cyberbullying with The Chronicle. Aoyama said that her research generally did not find students who were exclusively bullies or exclusively victims.
"Studies we have done did not identify 'pure victims' or 'pure bullies,' and many students are in a "bully-victim" group," she told The Chronicle. "It is easy for victims to cyberbully back others."
The pair also pointed to the lack of research on cyberbullying at the college level, and the finding that there is very little that differentiates cyberbullying between male and female students. Aoyama suggested that creating awareness of the problem with initiatives similar to "Alcohol Awareness Week" or "Eating-Disorder Awareness Month" could help combat the problem. But with the amount of time today's college students already spend on the computer, it's quite possible they'll discover the problem on their own, isn't it?
K-12 administrators have taken a different tack. In a recent story on bullying by my colleague Dakarai Aarons, an Illinois principal said he and his staff have worked on building trusting relationships with students, some of whom now voluntarily log into their Facebook and MySpace accounts to show him pages created to bully others.