How Can I Help Teens Who Are Victims of Cyberbullying?

Mary E. Muscari, PhD, CPNP, APRN-BC

Disclosures

October 25, 2010

In This Article

Who Are the Cyberbullies?

A report from the Second Youth Internet Safety Survey (1500 youth aged between 10 and 17 years) noted characteristics of cyberbullies in comparison to uninvolved youth. The authors found that cyberbullies had a number of psychosocial and behavioral problems, and that behavioral problems increased as the frequency of cyberbullying perpetration increased. Cyberbullies were more likely to be generally aggressive, to display rule-breaking behavior, to report poor child-caregiver relationships, and to be victims of bullying themselves.[9]

Cyberbullies typically hide behind the mask of anonymity afforded them by the Internet by using fictitious screen names. Because they lack face-to-face contact with their victims, they may not be aware of the trauma they cause, and they are thus unlikely to feel sympathy, regret, or compassion toward their victims.[10] Cyberbullies are often difficult to trace, reducing their fear of getting caught and being punished, and helping them avoid the consequences of their actions.[11]

Stop Cyberbullying describes 5 types of cyberbullies:

  • The Vengeful Angels do not see themselves as bullies. They believe they are righting wrongs, or protecting themselves or others from the "villain" they are victimizing. Vengeful Angels may have been the victims of "live" bullying or may be acting out to protect a friend who has been bullied. This category can also fit the jilted boyfriend or girlfriend who uses cyberbullying methods to retaliate for the break-up.

  • The Power-Hungry Cyberbullies want to control others and get them to obey their commands, differing from school-yard bullies only in their methods. The Power-Hungry Cyberbullies brag and crave attention to the point that they may escalate their actions to get it.

  • The Revenge of the Nerds Cyberbullies usually target single victims and keep their actions secretive. They rarely appreciate the impact of their actions, and, because of their level of technical skills, can be the most dangerous of cyberbullies.

  • The Mean Girls are typically egotistical, immature, and bored. They view cyberbullying as entertainment and tend to act as a group because they require an audience. This form of cyberbullying is typically fed by admiration, cliques, and the silence of others who let it happen. The bullying tends to die out when the entertainment value dissipates.

  • The Inadvertent Cyberbullies may be pretending to be tough or role playing. They don't lash out intentionally and instead behave without thinking.

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