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Home > Arhiva > 2017 > Numar: 3 > Cyberbullying as a Social Experience

 Cyberbullying as a Social Experience

  • Gabriela Irimescu (Alexandru Ioan Cuza University Iaşi, Faculty of Philosophy and Social-Political Sciences, Department of Sociology and Social Work, Phone: 0722541184, E-mail:
  • Mihaela Rădoi (Alexandru Ioan Cuza University Iaşi, Faculty of Philosophy and Social-Political Sciences, Department of Sociology and Social Work, Phone: 0745953809, E-mail:

A concept recently introduced among aggressions, cyberbullying can be defined as an aggressive, intentional act carried out by a group or individual, using electronic forms of contact, repeatedly and over time against a victim who cannot easily defend him or herself. Active participation to online life may favour the risk of exposure to such behaviours, but also the accumulation of vulnerabilities and the development of online stress; however, the same participation may develop work skills and abilities, such as coping strategies. The duality good/evil, risk/opportunity also extends in the online space, and the way of pointing them out and relating to them is one of the topics followed in the paper. The study focused on the way students at the specialty of Social Work perceive cyberbullying situations, the way they relate to it, the way they identify the risks and benefits of virtual space, and the response mechanisms to online attacks. The two-stage research (period June – October 2016) had a quantitative component (based on the analysis of 155 questionnaires) and a qualitative component (4 focus groups). The target group included the bachelor and master students at the specialty of Social Work; the inclusion criterion was the attendance of classes approaching the phenomenon of violence and aggressiveness. They study show that 80% of the respondents perceive online attacks as aggressive, 32.90% see these attacks as a violation of their privacy, 21,94% as a breach of confidentiality, while 20.65% feel vulnerable. The response chosen most time for online attacks is non-response. Whereas they are perceived as aggressive and violating privacy and confidentiality, the lack of reporting online attacks is recorded for 72.26 % of the respondents. The fact that students perceive online attack as an act that did not affect them, but that they identity it as aggression, has several possible explanations: (1) the intensity of online attacks is short-term, and over time they include this event in the category of non-harmful acts; (2) repeated exposure leads to an indifferent response to this form of violence, and this indifference may be interpreted as desensitization, increased permissiveness, and normalization of online attacks, and (3) lack of awareness concerning the deviant nature of violence, even under its virtual form.

Keywords: victims, online, bullying, social work students