In the past 15 years portable media devices like smartphones have become second nature to almost all adolescents in the civilized world. These devices provide immediate communication and connection between people of many different diverse groups across the world. Unfortunately, with such an influx of technological advances comes a new method of torment and harassment for the unwitting victim of the smartphone craze. The cameras that are included on almost every mobile device available today has given potential bullies one more push toward harming another person—sharing embarrassing pictures of the subject of their disdain.
Bullying pictures take on many forms. The bully can take an innocent image of their victim and then shared and ridiculed on text messages or via social media that is available on the bully’s smartphone. The bully may actually take pictures of them bullying the individual and then share those with their friends on Facebook or Instagram, or text and message them directly to their friends’ smartphones.
Of course, pictures of bullying can come from other methods, as well. Sexting has become a popular method of showing a boy or girl that the other likes them (Vanden Abeele, Van Cleemput, & Vanderbosch, 2013). Then, if the recipient of the sketchy images does not feel the same way, or if they actually encourage the images be texted to them, then those same sexted images can be shared across the World Wide Web, through shared texts to others, or through messaging.
Images of Bullying: Painting a picture of bullying
Images of bullying can come in a few different formats. A bully can be in the act of harming a victim, and as they are doing that, they take picture of what they are doing to their victim. Many news outlets have begun to discuss this form of bullying and they even display the images on their news reports. This action by a media outlet may actual exacerbate the behavior of the bully as well as re-victimize the adolescent whose image is being posted for more individuals to view on the television or online media outlet.
Bullying pictures can also be of the victim without his or her knowledge. If the victim is seen in what could be considered a compromising position or situation a picture can be snapped and posted online or texted to whomever the bully wishes to share your experience with. They will ridicule the victim based upon an accident or other mishap and cause embarrassment. Once images of an embarrassing nature have been shared online they are never gone. These images of bullying are available through massive searches across the world. Imagine the emotional distress of a young person who has been the victim of this kind of exposure across the entire world.
Impact of Bullying Pictures
Studies have found that there is much more damage done to an adolescent when their image is used to bully or harass them. Their self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, and behavior all suffer incredibly from the introduction of bully pictures on the Internet or through text messaging from smartphones (Vollink, Bolman, Dehue, & Jacobs, 2013).
Adolescents reported that in the past few years the inclusion of cyberbullying has been growing and becoming nastier with each new technological advance. Those who admit to being victims of cyberbullying state that images and videos are much more devastating to them than merely words alone.
Images of the victim in a compromising situation or as they are being bullied are two of the dominant types of images of bullying, but it seems that those images that they personally shared in private that then begin to show up on the Internet, social networking sites like Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook as well as through text messages are more damaging to the disposition of the victim of such bullying because a level of trust has been compromised.
Negative Coping Strategies Regarding Bullying Pictures
The victim of such a visual attack may attempt to cope with the event through negative responses. They may become angry, depressed, worried or if something else happens, they will become resolved to the idea that they just can’t win and they learn to deal with negative emotional behavior (Vollink, et al., 2013).
A Picture of Bullying: Coping with Incidents of Bullying Pictures
Of course, it is logical that one should avoid having their picture taken or should avoid sending their image over electronic devices (Vollink, et al., 2013). Avoidance is always a good method of reducing and eliminating victimization through pictures. However this is not an easy thing to accomplish because many pictures are taken without permission or knowledge of the victim of cyberbullying.
The victim of images of bullying can attempt to cope through positive self-image. By acknowledging that the picture may have found them in a compromising situation, they can work to laugh off the event, or decide that it is not nearly as bad as it appears (Vollink, et al., 2013). They may also be able to cope with the potential negative ramifications of having their image distorted and disseminated across the airwaves by redirecting their attention to more positive ventures that create the positive image that they do not care what the bully is trying to do, they are not going to be affected by the pictures, no matter what the bully attempts to present.
A very positive approach can also be performed by the bully; facing the images of bullying instead of avoiding them. The victim views the images, and confronts them as though they exist, they are out there, and they look at the images, as well as the bully who posted them from different angles to figure out what is being attempted. This is a cognitive approach and helps the victim to work out for himself what would prompt a bully to put the images out for all to see.
What Others Can Do when facing a picture of bullying
Campaigns have been produced to reduce bullying by picture. Anti-bullying pictures are posted in middle schools and high schools with the message that it is not nice, it is hurtful, and anyone can become a potential victim of the behavior. Many times the bully who posts these kinds of harmful images has not thought it through and does not even realize they are bullying others by posting the images. No bullying pictures can have an impact on all members of a school. Students may stop looking at the harmful images because they realize how hurtful and damaging it can be to other students. The message is submitted through articulate and catchy phrases and accompanied by either more pictures depicting bullies, or more positive no bullying pictures like diverse groups of people getting along and not being hurtful to each other.
Students have a big part in bully harassment by pictures. They can refuse to look at them, and when they witness images for themselves they should report them to some authority. If they know who a bully is they should not be afraid of telling who it is so that the bully can be educated better about his or her behavior. If appropriate intervention measures are given to the victim, the student body as a whole, and to the bully, then the occurrences of cyberbullying and bullying pictures can be reduced.
Conclusion on the picture of bullying
The world is a growing technological bank of opportunity. The opportunity can be positive, such as research and important conversations and communications across the world. This kind of positive impact helps to shrink the world and improve acceptance of diversity across cyberspace. However, when not used for positive and good purposes, the Internet, web sites, social networking, and mobile devices can become dangerous and even deadly for victims of cyberbullying and those whose pictures have become the butt of a World Wide joke. Without proper recourse for the victim, and coping skill development, these adolescents may develop very harmful psychoses, or they may take their lives if the embarrassment and harassment is too much for them to cope with.
Bullies who post bullying pictures on the Internet may believe they are being funny when, in fact, they may be causing irreparable harm to the person whose picture they snap without their knowledge, with their knowledge, or after another form of bullying. The idea that this behavior is funny is part of the problem. When sharing private pictures that have been received, no matter how innocent, the person sharing the images is breaking the trust of the other person, becoming a bully and creating another victim with another set of psychological and emotional problems.
In order to circumvent this kind of cyberbullying via image sharing it is important to start when adolescents initially get their smartphones or other image capturing devices. A firm parental control over the situation is a good deterrent to negative image sharing. As the first line of defense, the parent of a potential bully or potential cyberbully victim should do whatever they can to control the Internet use on smartphones, and set repercussions for their adolescents in the event that they break the rules.
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