Social media and text messaging have assumed a dominant role in communication among adolescent society. And, as common in teenage social environments, these circumstances often involve online teasing and harassing. This has become known as “cyber bullying”.
Delaware state Attorney General, Beau Biden, describes cyber bullying as a communication that “interferes with a student's physical well-being, is threatening or intimidating, or is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it is likely to limit a student's ability to participate in or benefit from the educational programs of the school.”
According to Delaware Online, the state recently implemented a law enforcing that schools penalize cyber bullying issues the same as they would for incidents that happen within school walls.
Many states have begun to implement similar laws enforcing stricter punishments for those engaged in cyber bullying, and sometimes the victims are not only teens. NPR recently addressed a North Carolina law that was passed to protect teachers against bullying from their students.
A teacher at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School had a student create a fake Twitter account under the teacher's identity, and posted offensive comments. Under new laws, students charged with such offenses could potentially face a month in jail and fines of up to $1,000.00.
The recent International Journal of Technoethics article “Cyberbullying: A Sociological Approach” evaluates the concepts of bullying and cyber bullying and addresses the emerging nature of these occurrences: “Cyberbullying has become a major social concern because it raises questions about the ethical use of technology.
In recent years, this has been the subject of research and information and prevention activities for different groups such as governmental and non-governmental organizations and schools and parents’ associations to protect against the misuse of technology.”
Written by José Neves and Luzia de Oliveira Pinheiro of the University of Minho, Portugal, the article features studies evaluating Portuguese University students in observation and focus groups, interviews, and investigations that aims to explore and define the characteristics of cyberbullying in Portugal.