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Cyberbullying and adolescence.

Argentina association fighting against cybercrime

(Originally published in the Journal CRICS No. 334 – February 2017)

Aggression is a known provision of the range of human emotions, characterized by the action in which a subject attempts to intentionally cause harm to another. This behavior can appear and disappear in a short period of time, but its duration can also be extended and not forward fast or easy way: we well within the realm of harassment. Harassment, so, It has the aggressive component of the intent to harm, but it lasts over time and is common to find repeated episodes of violence that realize this chronicity. In fact all harassment inequality of power between the victim and the aggressor also appears. About the latter, We found that bullying can be exercised individually or in groups.

The types of damages arising from harassment usually variable, the most common physical (hits, jostle, Burns), Verbal (abuse, threats), psychological (spreading rumors about the victim) or social (exclusion of the victim group level). When harassment occurs through information and communication technologies (TIC), We talk about the cyberacoso, or English, “cyberbullying”. Current technologies offer the attacker a wide range of modalities, as harassment by numerous messages, calls, or e-publications, which they take the form of threats and / or insults. The phenomenon is also embodied in the dissemination of images involved, rumors and gossip. The attackers have the ability to hack someone's account, to create fake profiles on social networks and in extreme cases, recording of aggression or humiliation of the victim to spread later.

As for the participants of harassment, They recognize 3: the aggressor, the victim and the observer. Often not taken into account the participation of observers in the process of harassment, that is to say, those who witness bullying and since their action or inaction help prolong or encourage it.

I wondered about the prevalence of cyberbullying among adolescents. We know that ICTs are presented as an important part of their social life. Adolescence, evolutionarily speaking, It is a complex process of change and transition from the subject, route involving childhood to adulthood. From the emergence of sexual maturity, known as puberty, the teen touches face various challenges with the resources that the subject finds.

Internet and social networks are, nowadays, an ideal medium that supports these vicissitudes, being one of the most notable is the setting of his new body image. A biological changes that happen to him, the adolescent must adjust the mental representation has of himself and adapt to his new body. Teenagers experiment with their appearance, show and publicize, published, edit and hide.

Adolescence is a stage normal abnormality, citing Aberastury and Knobell, who spoke of normal adolescence syndrome. Many parents and educators of adolescents are witnesses of permanent imbalances and emotional instability that characterize this stage of life.

One of the most difficult tasks for the adolescent identity is to move from child to adult sexed position, where among things you must meet the sexual object. There are a number of identificatory phenomena related to adolescent need to recognize and be recognized as as the ideal type of sex. So, during adolescence, both men and women, there is a strong need to be taken between the peer group, whose membership may include various categories, but above all the recognition of masculinity or femininity.

The problem is that the aspiration for a universal category that which identifies members of a group (not. The men, the beauties, smart, etc.) It requires a limit. To that membership in a group have some value for a potential member, It has to be established that figure or those who can not be included, to be excluded. This is the situation of the victim of cyberbullying when it takes the form of group phenomenon. A typical case are the attacks that may fall on a girl who supposedly does not meet certain criteria for admission to the group of “women”. Or the guy who receives homophobic comments and is excluded from the group of “mens”. The function of the subject rejected, with its alleged failure, It is to ensure that others possess the opposite to what attribute reject.

The time of adolescence involves a lot susceptibility and paranoia to the subject that transits. The pressure is identified urges, for both sexes, very strong. Teenagers can reach certain behaviors, particularly those of sexual and aggressive, which function as a sign of masculinity or femininity sought. Some girls may end up doing things “as the other”, not really want, in own name.

It should be clarified that due to the virtual world where it occurs, the cyberacoso has certain peculiarities regarding harassment where not involved ICTs. While regular harassment occurs in a place and time, cyberacoso not know the area or time limits. The victim can hardly escape the cyberacoso. As for the effects, the permanence cyberacoso has offered Internet and these multiply exponentially to reach more people. In this point, Observers may adversely collaborate to share and disseminate related material cyberbullying. ICTs have also updated other serious forms of harassment old, as child abuse. It is conduct has the last name of grooming.

Damage to the victims is something to be taken seriously and not be minimized. The damage must be assessed in each particular case. Cyberbullying victim suffers a dislocation of his life, evidenced in certain symptoms. No two equal subjects, so symptomatic intensity will depend on how the subject, in each case, It develops suffered traumatic situation.

Depression appears as an emotional reaction to a real loss situation (a loved one, a cherished possession, etc.), which involves deep feelings of grief, This is pain and depression, in the case of computer harassment, a reactive depression, that is to say, There is a clear link between the situation of specific loss and depressive reaction, this loss constituting the core of depressive content, no matter the severity or depth of the.

Among the victims of harassment computer, boxes also appear pathological anxiety. In this case, harassment computer works as an environmental stressor that causes the victim experiencing a vague feeling of anxiety or fear, the desire to flee, but who suffer can clearly identify the hazard or cause of this feeling. Among the anxiety disorders are the phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Panic Disorder, agoraphobia, posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorder generalizada, social anxiety disorder, etc.

Academic deterioration materializes in absenteeism and dropout, develop concentration problems and learning difficulties, generating dissatisfaction and lack of motivation. The difficulties in learning the victim are the result of altering one or more mental functions involved in consciousness: attention, the memory, the ability to remember, judicative function that allows you to associate, analyze and compare and integrate the experiences. Professional health care provider must determine which of these functions are altered and what is the reason. For example, in affective disorders previously mentioned, especially depression, the meritorious field is limited both in the order of ideas as objects served, and it is always referred to the emotional nuance of the moment.

In many computer victims of harassment, a marked shrinkage was seen in social relations. Victims support the belief that it is not part of the group or community, which it is different from others. It also appears to distrust the like, the expectation that it will be hurt or that others will take advantage of it.

We must remember that harassment involves a sustained assault in time, so the phenomena related stress can also manifest itself in the victims of harassment computer. Initially, adapting the victim responds to stress, but when the stressor agents are recurrent and continuous as in the case of computer harassment, the individual is maladaptive. When they fail adaptive responses, and the pressure is permanent, different effects occur, as increased fatigue, difficulty concentrating, muscle pains, headaches, colon irritable, dispepsias, insomnia, etc. impairment also appears in cognitive and emotional functions: decreased ability to handle information, irritability and restlessness, constant concern, increased aggressiveness, among others.

Research has identified the association between drug use and bullying (Kaltiala-Heino, Rimpelä and Rantanen and Rimpelä, 2000). Violence or harassment in secondary schools also increased significantly when among students consume some kind of legal or illegal drugs.

Finally, there is also a relationship between bullying behavior to depression and suicidal ideation. Although less frequent than other phenomena, Particular attention should be paid by their severity.

The magnitude of the psychic damage is not obvious as the moral prejudice, nor is it easy quantification. Health professionals is determined based on a process psicodiagnóstico, involving interviews and application of various tests and projective techniques. The complete diagnostic battery should include different groups of techniques that keep intra coherence and intertests, allowing the validation of the same.

In conclusion, cyberbullying is a serious situation that requires rapid intervention of adults in charge of retail and specialized professionals in different areas of this complex phenomenon.


Lucas Vazquez Topssian a degree in psychology and Director of the Department of Psychology and Containment Victims of AALCC (Argentina Association to Fight Cybercrime), where he works in prevention (primary, secondary and tertiary) Cybercrime cases demanding psychological care with other professionals.

Lic. Lucas Vazquez Topssian

M.N. 60.896
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