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Cyberbullying: a new context for bullying.

By Genta M.L., Brighi A., Berdondini L., Guarini and A.


Cyberbullying: A new context for bullying Genta M. L., Brighi A., Berdondini L., Guarini A. Department of Psychology, University of Bologna, Italy Contact: Cyberbullying is a repeated intentional attack through Internet and or other electronic technologies (Patchin e Hinduja, 2006). Although Internet is a widely used tool for promoting socialization among young adolescents, in economically advanced countries is reported a remarkable use of it as an offending and aggressive tool. Through the net many adolescents receive threats, embarrassing video are shared in order to humiliate someone, isolation or open attacks toward some members are also reported. Our research aims at investigating the peculiar feature of cyberbullying, compared to traditional physical or relational “face-to-face”bullying. The nature of the medium may, in fact, influence the content of bullying itself and also its nature (Hamburger et al, 2007): in cyberbullying anonymity may protect the aggressor, and potentially subjects that normally would refuse open aggression may become bullies. The medium may influence the message as well, since the sender cannot have an immediate feedback of his action, and all the reaction from the victim is hidden. This could, as some authors emphasize, reinforce the processes of moral disengagement, which in face to face interaction are more effectively controlled by empatic reactions toward a potential victim. The context of cyberbullying, in fact, foster the minimization of the effects of one’s own behaviour, reduce the feeling of guilty and the de-humanization of the victim. For these reason the new media such as the electronic messages and videos create new environment where the acquired knowledge on bullying must be considered from a different perspective. Our research, the first large scale one in Italian schools, will report data from a wide data collection in central Italy (N=1500), with a questionnaire designed from an international team of researchers linked to the Daphne Project, a program sponsored by the EU in order to devise strategies for preventing and contrasting violence towards women, children and minority groups and directed from the Univerity of Bologna. The questionnaire (Smith, et al. in preparation) is devised for a comparison between forms of traditional bullying and cyberbullying, their relative frequency, the self-reported role that the subject has in cyberbullying. Moreover we’ll investigate the role of self-esteem and perceived loneliness in association with episode of cyber-aggression done or received. The data will be discussed according to the Bandura’s hypothesis of moral disengagement in the new cyber-context

Publisher: University of Wurzburg
Year: 2008
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