Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Female Bullying vs. Male Bullying Behaviours

By David Simms, Senior Contributor
The Global Institute of Cyber Safety and Standards 

There is a general misconception that aggressive bullying behaviours online are primarily instigated and carried out by males, however this is not accurate.  Female bullying has been found to be especially dominant particularly when it comes to verbal and psychological torment in a cyber context. Although females are also responsible for physical bullying, it is drastically less likely to occur in-person as compared to the Internet. 

A common misunderstanding held by many is that verbal abuse online is relatively harmless and therefore, until recently, has been categorised and dealt with as a trivial matter.  However, to the contrary, scientific research shows that virtual harassment in the form of name calling, rumour spreading, threats, ostracising from groups, and the creating of false realities online, have a definite tangible and physical effect on victims, a fact that is fortunately, albeit slowly, being recognised as a legitimate issue among law enforcement agencies in countries around the world.

Females also tend to partake in online mobbing behaviours. Whereas males traditionally act alone in their aggression, females will often incite others in their group to gang up on a victim, typically another female.  Unfortunately, as the issue of online harassment and bullying is gaining more notice, males are being shown in PSAs and other raising-of-awareness articles and videos, to be the primary instigators. This is not to say that male involvement in online harassment shouldn’t be treated with the same seriousness; male aggression online is known to escalate to physical confrontations much more often than females.  However it is important to recognise that as the cyber harassment issue evolves, we must be mindful that it is much more complex than previously thought, and therefore should be dealt with in a fair and comprehensive fashion.