Tag Archives: CSUN Child Development and Adolescent Psychology

When Bullying Goes Viral

Cyber bullying continues to affect kids, adolescents and adults nationwide. About 32 percent of all teenagers who use the internet say they have been targets of annoying and potentially menacing online activities, according to a Pew Research Study. The study also indicated that older adolescent girls are more likely to report being bullied than any other age and gender group.

Research on cyber bullying is growing, but because technology use changes rapidly, it is difficult to design surveys that accurately capture trends, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey.

Dr. Brendesha Tynes, associate professor of Education and Psychology at the University of Southern California, agreed the research studies are not quite accurate.

“The studies that are out there — some of the national representative studies — show only about 10 percent of the population are experiencing cyber bullying,” Tynes said.

Roxanne Moschetti, assistant professor in CSUN’s Department of Adolescent and Child Development, said social media, particularly anonymous posting apps such as YikYak, make it difficult for educators and parents to battle cyber bullying.

“Even if we are doing our job about educating everyone about reporting cyber bullying,” Moschetti said,  “if they are using an app like that, it cannot be traced back. I can see apps like that allowing bullying to go under the radar.”

Moschetti said another problem is that kids do not want to admit to their parents that they are being bullied. She said that increased anxiety and withdrawal from social interaction are two common signs that a child might be uncomfortable.

Monica Barajas, Special Operations Administrator of the Family Violence Unit at the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, said that harsher punishments would help minimize the amount of cyber bullying in schools.

“The law should implement more regulations and have harsher consequences, even at the school district level and college level,” Barajas said. “Our education, citywide in the city of Los Angeles, is to constantly educated people to report it to law enforcement if they feel they are being victimized.”

Currently, the US Supreme Court is considering where to draw the line when it comes to protecting free speech on social media.

“If you are saying direct things and issuing direct threats online, then there should be a limit to your free speech,” Tynes said.

Moschetti says it is important to distinguish the difference between a threat and free speech.

“That’s where the education comes in,” she said. “What is a threat and what is free speech? You have to pay close attention to that, and educate everyone involved.”

Barajas said that prosecuters feel that if a reasonable person feels threatened by online harassment and reports it, that’s enough for law enforcement officials to move forward and investigate.

“What I would hope to see is more reporting,” Moschetti said, “and taking it seriously – where everyone takes it seriously.”

“The other part is the bully,” Barajas said. “Getting education and resources for that person who is doing it. It’s the resources for those people, and the counseling, and figuring out what is happening in their home that they are constantly on someone else.

“My hope is we will get more of these apps like Rethink, that help people evaluate whether they want to send a message,” Tynes said. “Don’t send this. Think twice, and hopefully more people will do that.”


Moderator: Carly Bagingito

Producer: Alex Vejar

Anchor: Katie Fauskee

Social Media Editor: Lauren Llanos

Reporters: Dean Perez and Zulay Saldana

Comments Off on When Bullying Goes Viral