Cyber bullying has become a major concern for those who operate in the virtual world. Whether the bullying goes on in chat rooms, social networking sites, forums or in blogs and their comments, the prevalence and the persistence of those who can operate anonymously can be amazing. When they are shut down by having their access and accounts cancelled, cyber bullies can return with new accesses and accounts to bully and cause trouble again and again.
Sometimes indivuduals who are normally agreeable will, through drink, drugs or for some other reason, become intermittently belligerent and cruel to others.
The problem seems to be concentrated in middle school students, but there are other forms of bullying by both individuals and by cliques in just about every forum or online organization. The most well known cases have led to suicide or other harm that extends to the real world.
According to the Psychiatric Times,(Kowalski, 2008), there has not been nearly enough study on the specific characteristics that are common to cyber bullies. But the general idea is that the characteristics of real world bullies can be applied to cyber bullies, with some distinct differences.
Of the traditional characteristics there are:
Males more than females
Accept violence more readily, or more proactive approaches, justifications and exposures to using violence.
Females go for indirect bullying or harm such as ostracizing and gossiping.
Higher levels of social anxiety.
Common to both types of bullying, there is:
Acts of aggression
Power imbalances between bully and victim
Acceptance, support or ostracism and rejection by peers.
For ideas of characteristics common to cyber bullies:
The method: electronic transmissions from behind a veil of anonymity where the identity and status of both bully and victim is not known.
Instant messaging as a frequently used tool.
Cyber bullies reporting the highest levels of social anxiety.
One study found of about 3,700 middle school students found that about 23% of middle school children who were bullied in the real world were cyber bullied, and 9% were cyber bullies themselves.
Of real world bullies, the study found that 19% were targets while 20% were bullied themselves.
Of those who had no real world bullying experiences, 5% had bullied and 9% were bullied.
Targets and potential targets, unlike in the real world, are accessible always. In the real world, there are places of inaccessibility and safety, such as home, in class, when adults or monitors are around and so on.
There are cyber bullies who are not schoolyard or real world bullies.
There are no visual or aural references online that indicate when a person is bullying or is about to do harm. In the real world, there are expressions signals that may pass between bullies and their backers or body language that signals impending physical action.
In summary, there is a clear idea that traditional and cyber bullying have clear distinctions in personality traits. The differing physical environments can work with personality traits in ways that are different on line than in the real world.