Text bullying is a fairly new type of bullying in which a person uses text messaging to torture another person. Text bullying has become increasingly popular since the number of cell phone equipped school-age children has gone up. Many school-age children send bullying texts to their victims because they can do it at any time and from any place. Since cowardice is the essence of most bullies, they seem to fit right into the text bullying trend. Children are not the only people who send bullying texts, however. Unfortunately, cowardly adults send text abuse to other people, as well. Text bullying is difficult to stop because of the many resources that abusers have these days.
What Is Text Bullying?
The definition of the word bullying is to use threats, abuse and coercion to dominate other people aggressively. Text bullying is regular bullying through text messaging. The abuser sends threats, abusive words and coercive information in text messages. The difference between regular bullying and text bullying is that the bully can hide behind his or her cell phone while doing it. The person can hide behind different phone numbers and cell phone units, as well. Since some types of text bullying are illegal, many abusers use cell phone SMS applications, anonymous SMS apps, spare phones and other methods to torture their victims. Some abusers borrow phones from friends and family members, and the friends and family members have no idea that they are participating in the bully’s power game.
Types of Text Bullying: Harassment
One person can SMS bully another person using a colorful variety of methods. Harassment is a form of text bullying in which the bully sends text messages repeatedly after the victim asks him or her to stop. Some people may refer to SMS harassment as bombardment. For example, sometimes people harass each other after a bad breakup. The male or the female may feel that he or needs an opportunity to speak to the other party. The person may send 30-60 desperate text messages even though the other party has clearly asked the person to stop.
The goal of the bully in this situation is to convince the other party to talk by aggravating him or her. Harassment by SMS is illegal in many states, and a victim can call a police officer and press charges for it. The key to pressing valid charges is that the victim must be able to prove that he or she asked the bully to stop sending messages. Additionally, the police will need to establish the originating cell phone’s account holder. A harassment case can become tricky if a person uses some of the aforementioned hiding methods.
Sexual Text Bullying
Another type of text bullying that exists is sexual text bullying or unwanted sexting. This type of text bullying can occur between two people who meet on an online dating site. Unwanted sexting could occur from an ex-mate, a friend, or a high school bully, as well. The bully torments the other person by sending perverse sexual messages that the other party does not request. A bully of this sort may send unrequested pictures of private parts, as well. The bully in this situation does not want to take no for an answer, and he or she hopes to change the victim’s mind by forcing that person to listen to sexual fantasies. Some bullies believe that their victims will change their minds if they send pictures of their body parts. Such graphic advances are often illegal and can bring forth prosecution.
Verbal Text Bullying
Some bullies choose to reiterate the words that they use in person in SMS form. They may call their victims names in text messages. Examples of names they may use are dummy, stupid, idiot, moron, gay and the like. They may use racial slurs if they know they bother the victim. Verbal abuse bullies may tease an overweight person by calling him or her fat, pudgy, ugly or some other unpleasant alternative name. The names might be directed at the person’s sexual orientation, sexual behavior or lack of sexual behavior. Some verbal abuse SMS messages poke fun at the victim’s religious sect or political party. The goal involved in verbal abuse text bullying is self-esteem abolishment. The texter intends to upset the other person so much that he or she feels inferior and has a bad day. If the bully can get the victim to feel bad for a substantial amount of time, he or she will feel powerful and superior.
Emotional Text Bullying
Emotional SMS bullying usually occurs after a breakup, but it can occur during any part of a relationship. Emotional text bullying can occur between friends and family members, as well. It includes a variety of text messages that intend to cause the other party discomfort, worry or pain. One example of emotional text bullying is threating to commit suicide after a breakup. Such an action is called emotional blackmail, and people can commit emotional blackmail via text message these days.
Another way that a person can emotionally abuse someone by text message is by playing head games. Head games can occur when one person sends a text message and then does not answer when the other person responds. Unavailable men who are also bullies may use this tactic to keep close eyes on their girlfriends. Another form of emotional text bullying is ignoring another person for long periods. For example, the person in the previous situation might fail to respond to the victim for several days.
Implied Physical Bullying in Texts
A bully can use SMS to spread implied physical abuse, as well. The person can sit back and send text messages about the different ways that he or she intends to harm the victim. Some people may write that they will punch, kick, choke or strangle the victim. Other people may threaten the victim with bomb threats or fire threats. Bullying in texts can be so severe that it contains death threats, as well.
How to Detect Text Bullying
Victims of text bullying are often embarrassed about the abuse. They may not want to let anyone know that they allowed words on a cell phone screen to hurt them. Many abused persons do not realize that words are one of the worsts abuse tools. Words can stick in a person’s mind for a lifetime. Therefore, SMS abuse can take a toll on a victim’s psyche.
Friends and family members can look for signs of text bullying by paying close attention to their loves ones. The following symptoms may indicate that a loved one is receiving bullying texts:
- Unexplainable depression
- Lowered mood after reading text-messages
- Excessive cell phone use
- Poor school or work performance
- Misplaced anger
- Social withdrawal
- Talks of suicide
- Suicide attempts
Many abused persons feel shame because they continue to read the abusive text messages. Victims sometimes read the texts in hopes that they will receive positive input that will counteract the negative input. Unfortunately, abusive situations do not work that way. A text bully may apologize once or twice, but the person will only do it to keep the cycle of abuse alive.
What to Do About Text Bullying
A victim should ask a bully to stop the first time he or she receives bullying in texts. Many bullies will not stop. However, the formal cessation request will set the victim up to report harassment if necessary. Schoolchildren should speak with a teacher about classmate text bullying. If the teacher does not do anything to stop the bullying, then the student may want to notify the guidance counselor or principal. Alternatively, a child can always trust his or her parents to take action in his or her best interest. Therefore, some children may want to speak with their parents about bullying first.
Persons who receive bullying texts should save all of them so that the local police precinct can see them. If the bully sends the messages from an established account, the courts may hold the account holder liable for the abuse. Abuse that comes from prepaid phones and VoIP applications is a little more difficult to pinpoint than straight text bullying is, but the perpetrators are still not free. There is a way to track down people who send anonymous bullying in texts. Therefore, victims should always come forward so that bullies know that their behavior is unacceptable.