Cyberbullying and privacy: New forms of social aggression

AuthorLesley A. Jacobs
| 93
Bullying is a fr ustratingly plastic mode of expressing aggression. Tradition-
ally, it has been conceived primarily in aect ive, physical terms. e stereo-
typical bul ly engages in open acts of physical aggression, largely on school
property and during set times. Only recently has there been much recogni-
tion that bullying ca n be social, not just physical. is insight is especial ly
pertinent given that the primar y victims and perpetrators of social bu llying
are girls. Bullying had long been accepted as a rite of passage for children
growing into maturity and adulthood. It was widely tolerated; indeed, in
some instances, bullying was even seen as a useful activ ity to toughen chil-
dren up. But now the debilitating and oen profoundly negative impact that
sustained bullying can have on a child is widely acknowledged. e rami-
cations of someone being made to feel small during the most vulnerable
phase in life can echo throug h the entirety of life.
is chapter focuses on cyberbullying among children and youth.
Cyberbullying represents a new form, or perhaps more accurately, a new
digital platform for social bullying. Bill Belsey, who coined the term, de-
nes cyberbullying as involving “the use of information and communica-
tion technologies to support deliberate, repeated and hostile behaviour by an
individual or group that is intended to harm others.” Cyberbullying should
be viewed as an intentional wrongfu l act, although perhaps one commit-
ted without full appreciation of its consequences. Although cyberbu llying
See Shaheen Sha ri & Rachel Gouin, “Cy ber-Dilemmas: Gendered Hier archies, Free Ex-
pression and Cyber-Sa fety in School” () . Atl antis: A Women’s Studies Journal .
Bill Belsey, “Cyberbully ing: A Real and Growi ng reat” ATA Magazine (Fall )  at .
Privacy Rights in th e Global Digital Economy94 |
is intentional, the fact that bullies are t hemselves oen children or youth
means that judgments of individual responsibility a re rarely simple or clear.
Neither smart advertisements (the focus of Chapter ) nor privacy invasions
by social network friends (the focus of Chapter ) constitute cyberbullying.
But cyberbullying ca n still be traced, in part, to v iolations of privacy rights.
is chapter advances an understandi ng of cyberbullying and how to
combat it that is designed to provide further insights into the appropriate
paths to justice for privacy rig hts issues that arise in the everyday lives of
Canadian youth.
Bullying is a major youth issue in Canad ian society. In a presentation to a
Senate committee, Bill Belsey, president of, reported that there
are as many as , cases of bullyi ng in Canadian high schools every
yea r.A survey conducted by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation found that
 percent of Canadians consider bullying a serious social issue.Much of
the focus for taking bul lying (and cyberbullying) seriously has centred on
measuring the aect ive impact of bullying on the victi m’s emotions and
academic prospects. Empirical evidence has shown, too, that most bul lies,
like their vict ims, suer from some form of psychological distress. is
distress might be brought on by external factors or develop as a conse-
quence of engaging in bullying. Any approach that puts the primary em-
phasis on the immediate psychological harm and societal costs of bullying
is, however, limited in the solutions it can conceive and risks not taking
cyberbully ing seriously enough.
) Affective Approaches and Their Limits
Aective approaches regard the consequences of cyberbullying as stigma-
tization, loss of self-esteem, social ostracism, a nd social exclusion for the
victim. While these aectively determined consequences are undoubtedly
Shaheen Shari, “Cybe r-Dilemmas in the New Mil lennium: School Obligat ions to
Provide Student Safe ty in a Virtual S chool Environment” () : McGill Jou rnal of
Education .
A Wayne MacKay, Respectful and Res ponsible Relationshi ps: ere’s No App for at: e
Report of the Nova Sco tia Task Force on Bullying and Cyberbullyin g (Halifax: Govern ment
of Nova Scotia, ).
Marilyn Campbel l, “Do Cyberbullies Su er Too? Cyberbullies’ Perceptions of t he Harm
ey Cause to Other s and to eir Own Mental Hea lth” () : School Psychology
International .

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