Bullying has always been a serious issue. Teasing, making threatening comments towards someone, spreading rumors, and leaving people out on purpose are just some ways that people get bullied. Unfortunately, it is too difficult to monitor every bully and punish them for it. Now, because of modern, advanced technology, authorities now face another issue, cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying is basically the same as typical bullying in that it is still unwanted aggressive behavior that involves a perceived power imbalance, but it is even harder to catch the bully. The problem with cyber bullying is that people hide behind their screens. In other words, when someone makes a personal attack online, there are simple ways to disguise their identity and not be revealed.
According to Thomson Reuters, an expert on cyberbullying, says that cyberbullying can be even more traumatizing than traditional forms of bullying. When a hurtful comment is shared online, it is out there for millions to see which causes the victim to feel even more embarrassed and insecure about themselves.
When a person is being bullied, it can physically affect the brain. This usually applies to young children and/or teenagers. As a child gets bullied and mocked, their stress levels tend to increase. Tracy Vaillancourt, a psychologist at the University of Ottawa, discovered that bullied boys and girls have abnormal levels of stress compared to their peers. High levels of stress can cause the immune system to weaken which results in a higher chance of illness.
Also being harassed can affect a person’s memory. Tracy Vaillancourt also found that bullied teens had poor results in memory games and tests as opposed to non-bullied students. Those are just some of the physical effects bullying can have on people.
The emotional pain it causes is a big issue as well. Veranda Hillard-Charleston says kids who are bullied become emotionally withdrawn, meaning that they may no longer want socialize with friends or do activities they once had enjoyed. A person who was once outgoing, fun and loving may begin to shut people out and keep to themselves. People who are bullied have an increased chance of inflicting harm to themselves or committing suicide.
Laws have been made to punish those who bully others. Most states have laws against bullying, but there is a range on how the situation can be handled. There are twelve states that have serious consequences. The result can range from school suspension to jail time. Five other states don’t have any official punishments or anti-bullying laws.
Most of these laws apply to traditional forms of bullying, where the bully is usually known. But what type of laws are in place for cyber bullying? Well in the states of Arizona, Alaska, Connecticut, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, and Wyoming cyber bullying falls under the category of cyber stalking which is a crime that can cost up to nine months in prison and a 150,000 dollar fine. That is if the bully is even caught.
In California, both types of bullying are considered misdemeanors and carry a sentence of not more than one year in jail and a fine of no more than $1,000, or both (CA Pen. Code § 653.2.)