Cyberbullying: “Shaming,” Suffering, and Social ill

January 24, 2013 § 1 Comment

In a recent NPR podcast (listen), a rookie 16-year-old reporter (Temitayo Fagbenle) presented a brilliant and disturbing account of obscene current trends in cyberbulling against young women (i.e. “slut shaming”).  It was a podcast that, for me, sparked hours of research and a number of humbling shocks.

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In general, “cyberbullying” can be defined as the use of technology (e.g. the internet and cellphones) to harm or harass others. New as it is, cyberbullying is largely understudied and unfortunately growing faster than our understanding can compete with to construct viable and effective interventions, laws, and policies. Yet still, the social, emotional, verbal, and psychological abuses that comprise cyberbullying are unconscionable.

In many ways cyberbullying is similar to conventional bullying, but in important ways it is distinct.  For example, the perpetrators of cyberbullying are often anonymous or perceive themselves to be anonymous; unlike localized conventional bullying, cyberbullying has the potentially to garner an infinite audience and to leave behind a unending record; and furthermore, the perpetrators of cyberbullying are regularly absent from witnessing their victim’s immediate reaction. Such modern and cowardly qualities can exacerbate the potential of cyberbullying to inflict severe harm. Victims can experience depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, suicidal thoughts, poor grades, and negative physical health symptoms.1,2

Now, we’ve all been children/teens, we all know children/teens, and many of us have or will have children and teens in our home. It is within our interest to keep up with the threats against them. I, for one, can’t imagine what it would have been like if the kids (in my case, girls) at school had had more immediate, permanent, and public means by which to torment one another. And although parents may think that they have this issue under control, Mishna (2008) reports that while over 80% of parents believed their child would tell them if he/she were being cyberbullied, only 8% of victims did tell their parents.

Indeed, the probability of an immense heartache associated with the discovery that your child is either a victim or perpetrator of cyberbullying can be diminished by taking action now: by learning about the issue, by talking to your children and teens often and honestly, by supporting research, by calling on government officials to devise evidence-based solutions, and by helping children, teens, and their adult supervisors better understand why cyberbullying is inappropriate and supremely risky. If you know of any teachers or bus drivers , perhaps print them  a copy of these useful toolkits for preventing bullying.

But of course (and in closing), cyberbullying is not a problem extant only between the ages of 10 and 21. It takes place in the workplace and personal lives of adults as well. This was publicly witnessed by the response of news anchor Jennifer Livingson and by the recent lawsuit by female victims against a “revenge-porn” website and

If you are one who is being cyberbullied, please know that you are not alone. The bullying is a bad reflection of others–not you. There are many people and organizations eager and happy to help you find a way out….And there are ways out with their help.

If you are one who engages in cyberbullying, please recognize that your actions can have immense and tragic consequences. Stop now.

1 For another free and informative academic article, click here.

2;; contact a friend, therapist, social worker, principle, boss, manager, parent, relative…


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§ One Response to Cyberbullying: “Shaming,” Suffering, and Social ill

  • Dear Ms. Whitten,
    My name is Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D., NYS licensed psychologist & certified forensic consultant. I am also the author of the technology predator construct, iPredator, which is a global concept defining anyone who uses Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to harm, victimize and steal from others. Cyberbullying is 1 of the 7 typologies included in iPredator. One of my Google Alerts is cyberbullying, your blog post came up and I wanted to say both TY and Excellent post. In 2012, my 2012 Cyberbullying Tactics list was published in the Spring & Summer issues of the Forensic Examiner published by the American College of Forensic Examiners Institute. Recently, I completed my 2013 list and I have posted them at my forensics blog, Dark Psychology. Link:

    Your blog post has introduced the 33rd cyberbullying tactic “slut shaming” I’ve compiled in 2 years. My Internet Safety & Tech. Predator website, iPredator, is live but is being rebuilt and will soon also include my 2013 Cyberbullying Tactics replacing the 2012 version. iPredator website:

    With your permission, I would like to include the 33rd tactic, yours, in this article and I would be honored to give you attribution. Lastly, I love your blog title “BELL TOLLING” as it is very succinct to the Information Age criminal & deviant activities growing in cyberspace. Feel free to write me & I look forward to hearing from you. To verify I am who I claim to be, Google Dr. Michael Nuccitelli or iPredator. Once again, TY for helping to bring awareness to the hateful acts children of the Information Age are doing to one another

    Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D.
    NYS Licensed Psychologist
    CEO, iPredator Inc.


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