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Vanessa Rogers on Cyberbullying – Part 1: What is different about cyberbullying?

This week, we’ll be featuring an interview series with Vanessa Rogers, an experienced and highly regarded teacher and youth worker, and author of the recent book, Cyberbullying: Activities to Help Children and Teens to Stay Safe in a Texting, Twittering, Social Networking World.

Today, Vanessa explains how cyberbullying is different from other kinds of bullying.

While it is certainly true that physical bullying is unacceptable behaviour, cyberbullying can be just as frightening, leaving behind emotional rather than physical scars. Cyberbullying is different from face-to-face bullying because the bullies can keep a distance between themselves and their victims. This affords the bully a level of anonymity and a perceived sense of security that convinces them they won’t get caught. It also makes it easier to ‘forget’ what they’ve done and as they don’t see the harm caused, and any feelings of guilt or empathy are minimized. Not knowing the identity of the bully can make the victim distrustful of many people.

It is also worth remembering that the young person you know may even be involved in perpetrating cyberbullying. It’s just as important for cyberbullies to understand the consequences of their activities, as it is to encourage them to stop.

It’s also important that cyberbullying is covered by anti-bullying policies in schools and youth organizations. Within a school, the sanctions available to use against the bullies should be clearly explained, including any appeal process, and no young person should be surprised at the consequences of being found guilty of cyberbullying. Although cyberbullying is not currently a specific crime, by taking part in it young people may have broken other laws, especially if it involves physical threats. All children should be made aware of the real consequences both to the person being bullied and to the bully themselves if they are caught.

This is an excerpt from the first chapter Cyberbullying.

Tomorrow: Vanessa discusses how to tell when a young person is being cyberbullied.

Vanessa Rogers is a qualified teacher and youth worker with over ten years’ experience within Hertfordshire Youth Service, UK, both at practitioner and management levels. Prior to becoming a nationally acclaimed youth work consultant, Vanessa managed a wide range of services for young people including a large youth centre and targeted detached projects for Hertfordshire County Council. Vanessa has written a number of popular resource books aimed at those working with young people, and she also has a column in ‘Youth Work Now’, a supplement of the national magazine ‘Children and Young People Now’. Vanessa’s website can be found at www.vanessarogers.co.uk.

Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2010.


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