We continue to talk more and more about cyberbullying as it becomes more pervasive and is starting to impact kids at younger ages than ever before. Cyberbullying can be especially troubling and difficult to deal with because for victims of this type of bullying there is no reprieve. They can’t escape to the safe space of their home because digital devices are everywhere.
Since cyberbullying has exploded in recent years, it can be important not just to look at the effects on bullied young people but also try to gain a greater understanding of why it happens and what causes young people to be perpetrators of bullying.
By looking more into what causes these situations, it may be a valuable way to help prevent them in the future.
The following are some things to know about the underlying causes of what can lead young people to cyberbully one another.
Sometimes children and teens who bully others, and in particular, engage in online and digital bullying may be under the impression that others are doing it also. This can include their parents. If a child sees that their parent is cyberbullying, they may think it’s somehow normal or acceptable.
Also, if a child doesn’t feel like the adults in their life will hold them accountable for their bullying behavior, they’re more likely to do it as well.
Parents who model good behaviors and also who work toward having a strong, healthy relationship with their children can reduce the risk that they will become a cyberbully.
Many times, young people who cyberbully wouldn’t engage in similar behaviors in-person and face-to-face. There can be a certain degree of anonymity involved with cyberbullying that leads some to believe they won’t get caught or feel braver to bully others than they ordinarily would.
It’s also easier to bully someone when not only you don’t fear you’ll get caught, but you don’t have to face the reactions of the person you’re bullying.
If you bully someone in-person, you have to see what their response is and how it affects them, and that can be difficult to stomach, even for kids who don’t have a high sense of empathy.
The Desire for Power
Bullying is often indicative of social status. For example, popular kids may be more likely to make fun of less popular kids, or kids who feel they’re athletic or attractive may bully kids they see as being less so. Cyberbullying can be a way for young people to highlight their social status.
At the same time, kids who are not as popular or viewed as being as attractive or as good in some way may bully as well, because they want to make themselves appear better than what they feel they are. Low self-esteem is often one of the top reasons young people engage in bullying behaviors.
There may be a sense of social pressure that leads young people to engage in bullying. For example, to a cyberbully, they may feel like their friends will like them more, or they’ll be more accepted if they bully others.
They Are Victims of Bullying
Another situation that is frequently seen is that young people who are bullied then become bullies themselves. It may be a way for them to act out their own frustrations and the emotional distress they feel about being the victim of bullies.
Lashing out against others can be a coping mechanism for not only young people bullied by their peers but also potentially young people who might have a troubled home environment.
Lack of Empathy
Young people may have a lack of empathy, and it may difficult for them to see how their behavior hurts and affects others, particularly if they’re doing it digitally.
When a young person doesn’t have empathy, it is something they can be taught and develop over time. Parents and other adults in their lives can work with them on emotional intelligence so they can gain a greater understanding of how their words and actions affect others.
It can be helpful to gain an understanding of why bullying is happening and what the core issues are that lead a young person to behave in this way. By understanding the underlying issues, it may be possible for adults in their lives to proactively step in and work to help them with their own issues so they can then alleviate their bullying behaviors.