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Cyber Bullying

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Crisis intervention refers to emergency psychological attention aimed at assisting individuals in a crisis condition to reinstate  balance to their bio-psychosocial operation and reduce chances of psychological trauma (James & Gilliland, 2001). Crisis can be defined as an individual's perception of an incident or circumstance(s) as unendurable to the extent of surpassing the individual’s current ability and coping mechanisms. The most important reason for crisis intervention is to increase an individual’s stability. Crisis intervention arises spontaneously and in diverse settings (Jace, 2011). Communal or general trauma can happen in various settings and usually affects a big group or community. The prime concern of the counselor in these types of crises is to gauge people’s consciousness of resources, such as places where their basic needs for survival can be met (Myers, McCaw & Hemphill, 2011).     

Ways in which people respond to trauma, include physical, emotional, and behavioral. Physical responses include fainting, sweating, increased heartbeat, shock, fatigue, tremors, headache, weakness, and dizziness. Emotional responses comprise depression, panic, anxiety, helplessness, irritability, anger, fear, hopelessness, guilt, and denial (Hunter, 2012). When evaluating behavior, some basic responses to crisis include eating and eating difficulties, conflicts with others, sleeplessness, pulling out from social sites, and lack of interest in social activities. Online bullying, also referred to as cyber bullying, has been on the rise all over the world due to advances in technology and increased Internet accessibility. Cyber bullying presently poses grave danger to an increasingly large percentage of people. Cybercrime and cyber bullying have reached crisis proportions, and therefore there is a need for immediate intervention (Jace, 2011).

Crisis Intervention for Cyber-Bullying

Literature Review

Cyber bullying occurs when people use cellular phones, the Internet, and/or other devices to post or send images and/or texts messages with the intention of embarrassing or hurting others (Hunter, 2012: Kowalski, Limber & Agatston, 2008). There are several ways of countering cyber bullying and being cyber-safe. This vice afflicts different age groups, but is more rampant among teenagers and working class individuals. Teenagers practicing cyber bullying impersonate others to trick their peers into revealing their private information. Other cyber bullies post pictures without their victims' consent (Kowalski, Limber & Agatston, 2008).

Cyber bullying can basically refer to sending e-mails to someone who has rejected contacts with the sender, which may also include hate speech, sexual remarks, threats and posting false information, such as facts intended to humiliate the victim (Hunter, 2012). Cyber bullies can sometimes reveal victims' personal information, which may include real name, school, workplace, and contacts at forums or website, or assuming the victims’ identity in order to publish insulting or ridiculing materials. Some cyber bullies may send bullying and threatening emails to their victims, while others may publish gossip or rumors and mobilize others bullies to team up on the target (Kowalski, Limber & Agatston, 2008). In addition, boys tend to engage in malicious online activities much earlier than girls of the same age. However, as they grow up, girls are more likely to engage in cyber-bullying than boys of their age. Regardless of the sex, the bully’s purpose is to deliberately intimidate humiliate, annoy, or threaten individuals online. This kind of bullying transpires through websites, text messaging, and posts to blogs.  

Cyber Bullying Types

Flaming is fighting online via electronic messages by using obscene and vulgar language. Mostly, this happens when teenagers want to tease one another either after having a disagreement or just out of malice.

Harassment involves continuously sending rude, abusive, and offensive messages intended to irritate the victim of cyber-bullying (Kowalski, Limber & Agatston, 2008).

Cyber stalking entails threatening another person and intimidating them through sending messages repeatedly. This scares the victim of a cyber bully, as the threats make him/her fear for his life.

Denigration involves circulating cruel and unpleasant gossip and/or rumors concerning a person with an intention to destroy his/her reputation and damage his/her friendship with other people, as they may perceive him to be the ‘bad’ person.   

Impersonation involves a cyber bully posing as another person and using that person’s identity to send or post unscrupulous materials and messages online. These are intended to make the person appear bad, get the person in trouble or damage the person's reputation (Hunter, 2012).

Outing and trickery entails tricking a person into revealing his/her unpleasant secrets or embarrassing experiences. Then a cyber-bully shares the secrets and humiliating information online to demean a person's reputation.

Exclusion involves intentional oppression of someone through exclusion from very important online group lists. This leads to lack of vital information, such as work-related or requiring immediate action, that the person needed to receive.

Current Cyber Bullying Programs and Responses

Education of Children

One major intervention technique is to let everyone know what cyber bullying means. This means that all members of the society starting from the children to the adults need to be educated about cyber bullying and informed that all actions irrespective of where and how it perpetuated have consequences (McQuade, Colt & Meyer, 2009). They should also be made to understand that cyber bullying is wrong and hurts the victims. And if they have the misfortune of becoming victims, they need to understand that they are being manipulated by bullies. It is equally important to note that cyber bullies often become victims of cyber bullying, hence they should care about others and defend what is right.


Educators can appeal to teenagers and youths to enter into an internet safety agreement, whereby they pledge they will not cyber-bully or give their personal details even to their friends, willingly or even under duress. This can ensure that cyber-bullying is minimized, since those involved in it may fear the consequences of the act, while those who do not fear may not get personal detail of those they want to victimize. Educators can also institute acceptable Internet use and anti-cyber bullying policies in school (Shariff, 2008). These policies will assist in guarding against misuse of technology and help to effectively and efficiently monitor the Internet.

Schools should emphasize the value of kindness and responsiveness, as well as being respectful so that the students can understand that other people need to be treated with respect and do not deserve to be cyber-bullied (Shariff, 2008).

Enhancing empathetic awareness will make young people be always mindful of the other person, and put themselves in other person's place in case he/she becomes the victim of cyber bullying. This way the person may see the need to do the same to another person, as he already knows what it is like to be a victim (Myers, McCaw & Hemphill, 2011). 

Developing effective and efficient problem-solving skills among young people of the same age who initiate cyber bullying and those who do it for the sake of revenge will help solve their differences effectively before they get out of hand (Shariff, 2008).

Empowerment of onlookers is another strategy whereby bystanders are empowered with preventive measures to be able to respond to cyber-bullying. They are also empowered with effective counter-measures to prevent it.


This is another intervention that involves parents discussing the cyber bullying menace with their children.(McQuade, Colt & Meyer, 2009). This can be done by supervising and increasing effective monitoring of Internet use by the children. Parents need to know that since more adults supervise teenagers' activities, more children hide their use of the Internet. This means that the monitoring strategies need to be made into social norms, as far as teenagers' online activities are concerned. The social norms will install the values and standards of operation expected of every child and community member (McQuade, Colt & Meyer, 2009). The parents also need to empower the cyber bully victim with relevant knowledge on how to prevent, respond, and discourage bullying activities among teenagers. Methods that may be employed to prevent bullying include non-disclosure of personal information, staying offline for those who are already victims, blocking communication with the bully by showing victims how to bar the bully’s messages, deleting messages before reading them (Carpenter & Ferguson, 2009).

Parents should establish rules governing the use of the Internet by their children, as well as clearly stipulate consequences in case of non-compliance (McQuade, Colt & Meyer, 2009). This will discourage the use of the Internet for perpetuating the vice. Parents should also instruct teenagers not to seek revenge on a cyber-bully, since revenge worsens the situation and perpetuates the crisis. Equally, teenagers need to know that there is no difference between them and cyber bullies, in case they resort to revenge. Instead of revenge, teenagers need to be advised to report the bullying cases to Internet service providers (ISPs) and website administrators. These groups are better placed to regulate some of the bully’s Internet abilities (Carpenter & Ferguson, 2009).

Another intervention strategy to curb cyber bullying is to keep passwords secret from everyone. If carelessly handled, passwords help bullies gain entry into personal accounts, thus making the owners vulnerable to cybercrime and bullying (Jace, 2011). To avoid depression, teenagers need to be encouraged to report becoming victims of cyber bullying to be advised on how to respond. This intervention is meant to give assistance before it is too late. It has also been realized that most teenagers fear reporting the incidences of cyber bullying for fear of their Internet access being restricted by their parents (Jace, 2011). 

It is also important to assist victims of cyber bullying in maintaining records of bullying incidents. This is absolutely essential when the situation requires intervention of law enforcement agencies, such as the police, especially when it entails, harassment or recurrent cyber-attacks (Netce.com, 2011). This is necessary to safeguard victims of cyber bullying because some incidents may end violently.

Community leaders may also organize cyber safety forums for community members, including students, educators, parents, local technology companies, local law enforcement agencies, and school officials. Such forums will teach the safe use of the Internet, give information to parents, law enforcement officers and educators on how teenagers use the Internet, as well as websites teenagers visit regularly, provide information on procedures of contacting site administrators and ISPs in case cyber bullying takes place, and circumstances under which to contact law enforcement agencies regarding a cyber bullying situation (Netce.com, 2011). Community leaders also need to work with institutions' technology departments to ensure that teenagers are cyber-safe. This is because cyber bullying has become a crisis that needs serious intervention (James & Gilliland, 2001).

Intervention after the Bullying

Victims of cyber bullying need to provide evidence that can be used for prosecution. Threat assessment also needs to be done if cyber bullying causes substantial damage, spawns violent behavior or elicits suicide concerns from the victim. The assessment will help determine the best response options, such as involving law enforcement officers, school disciplinary action or psychological counseling to reduce the impacts among victims and perpetrators (Jace, 2011). The intervention also involves identification of the perpetrators through assessment of the validity of a person’s identity, offering support to the victim, counseling mediation and providing guidance on how to respond to the impact.

Crisis Intervention for Cyber Bullying

Intervention in the cyber bullying crisis can be made through community action that involves all members of the society (James & Gilliland, 2001). Cyber safety should be a priority for everybody with Internet access, because it has become a major source of information and networking platform. However, this is a difficult subject to address, since people have the right to privacy and freedom of speech. Nevertheless, community members, including educators, community leaders, and law enforcement agencies, can help prevent cyber bullying and promote safe and accountable use of the Internet through implementing the following strategies (Carpenter & Ferguson, 2009).

Disciplinary Intervention       

Disciplinary intervention involves intervening in the cyber-bullying crisis by using detention, suspension, and expulsion. As part of disciplinary intervention strategy, detention is mostly enforced by the police when bullying threatens the life of the victim (Jace, 2011: Ncpc.org). The perpetrator in this case is detained by the police to reduce the risk as investigation is carried out. Suspension and expulsion mostly affect teenagers in school settings, but can also impact working class individuals. These disciplinary measures are taken after a proof of bullying has been obtained. The proof is to be based on the enforceable anti-cyber bullying policy stipulated by the school to protect the victim and improve safety (Myers, McCaw & Hemphill, 2011). It also involves the use of law enforcement agencies if bullying entails harassing and threatening the lives of victims. To ensure best intervention results law enforcers and school administrators must be fully informed on the current cyber safety issues and legislations, including learning about the technology and platforms teenagers use to perpetrate bullying, as well as the social networking sites frequented (Netce.com, 2011).  To fully discipline perpetrators, enforcers also need to determine the best protocol to follow in order to contact social networking site administrators to remove or block the profiles of cyber bullying individuals.

Therapeutic Intervention

This involves outside counseling of both victims and perpetrators of cyber bullying on how to respond and prevent involvement in the vice. Therapeutic intervention is implemented through the ‘PEAS’ Program that involves psychological, educational, and social responses.
1. ‘P’-Psychological

This intervention program involves referral of the bullying victims to the professional psychologists for outside counseling to equip the victims with skills necessary to counter bullying practices. This also helps safeguard cyber bullying victims against psychosocial problems, such as withdrawal and depression among others. Such counseling is also offered through family support centers and school counseling programs to help teenagers avoid getting engaged in cyber bullying (Ncpc.org). There are also anger management groups that help cyber bullying victims control their anger, embrace apology technique and impact statement that promotes peaceful coexistence between their peers (Carpenter & Ferguson, 2009). This intervention mechanism also teaches the youth peer mediation and conflict resolution techniques that can be used by both cyber bullies and their victims to solve their differencse without causing injuries to themselves. Finally, teenagers are advised to utilize the ‘safe box’ technique while being online to avoid exposing their information to potential bullies and other cybercrime perpetrators (Ncpc.org).

2. ‘E’-Educational

This strategy involves curriculum infusion into training programs that sensitize students against cyber bullying. This can be done through reviewing documentaries, previous reports on the menace, encouraging reciting poems, short stories and songs that denounce cyber bullying and discussing the impacts of the bullying crisis. Institutions can also utilize social studies by reviewing cyber bullying cases, distinguishing uses and misuses of technology, developing anti-cyber bullying posters, as well as promoting the use of authentic websites (Netce.com, 2011).  The educational strategy also involves peer-matching, whereby teenagers from lower and higher grades are combined to improve cohesiveness. It also involves promoting school assemblies. Such assemblies may include small groups of high school students discussing the menace and ways of preventing it, the impacts of cyber bullying or being cyber bullied, having professionals like lawyers highlight possible legal consequences of cyber bullying, or getting former cyber bullies to outline the consequences of their actions (Ncpc.org). This can be a workable intervention strategy to avert the current cyber bullying crisis. The strategy should also involve parents intervention, as well as school staff assessment and evaluation.

3. ‘S’-Social

This intervention strategy uses extracurricular activities, such as art contests among students of different grades to build cohesiveness (Jace, 2011). School administrations may also introduce a dress code policy that minimizes comparison among teenagers, which is usually a source of bullying.


Crisis intervention for cyber bullying involves emergency psychological attention aimed at assisting individuals experiencing cyber bullying in reinstating balance to their bio-psychosocial operation and reducing chances of psychological trauma. Cyber bullying occurs when people use cellular phones, the Internet and/or other devices to post or send images and/or texts messages with an intention of embarrassing or hurting others (Netce.com, 2011).  This practice has been promoted by the advancements in technology to the extent that many people, including school going children, enjoy high-speed Internet access via cellular phones in the comfort of their own homes. Currently rampant among young people, cyber bullying traumatizes most victims, and therefore, requires urgent measures to curb the menace on a global scale. The commonly experienced cyber bullying types include flaming, harassment, cyber stalking, denigration, impersonation, trickery, and exclusion (Netce.com, 2011). Several intervention strategies can be used to stop cyber bullying and enhance cyber safety. It requires involvement of parents, teachers and community members to advise teenagers against cyber bullying practices, The strategies should also focus on getting law enforcement agencies to implement disciplinary measures. Other intervention measures involve the implementation of the ‘PEAS’ program that involves psychological, educational and social intervention.

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