Ongoing and online: Children and youth's perceptions of cyber bullying

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Children and Youth Services Review, Volume 31, Issue 12, pp. 1222-1228.

The use of online technology is exploding worldwide and is fast becoming a preferred method of interacting. While most online interactions are neutral or positive the Internet provides a new means through which children and youth are bullied. The aim of this grounded theory approach was to explore technology, virtual relationships and cyber bullying from the perspectives of students. Seven focus groups were held with 38 students between fifth and eighth grades. The participants considered cyber bullying to be a serious problem and some characterized online bullying as more serious than ‘traditional’ bullying because of the associated anonymity. Although the students depicted anonymity as integral to cyber bullying, the findings suggest that much of the cyber bullying occurred within the context of their social groups and relationships. Findings revealed five major themes: technology embraced at younger ages and becoming the dominant medium for communication; definitions and views of cyber bullying; factors unique to cyber bullying; types of cyber bullying; and telling adults. The findings highlight the complexity of the perceived anonymity provided by the Internet and how this may impact cyber bullying. The study offers greater awareness of the meanings of online relationships for children and youth.


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