The Place of Societal Institutions in Prevention of Cyberbullying

It is arguably true that humans’ posses a level of meanness. This has escalated on the cyberspace since users can mask themselves behind screens, and reach very many people worldwide. For instance, someone with malicious intent may expose another person’s sensitive information on a social media platform, and through sharing and reposting, such information spreads fast and far. An act like that erodes significant confidence and esteem which is maintained by privacy and confidentiality. As such, some victims of cyberbullying have ended up committing suicide or living desperate-shameful lives after the bullying. Rueb reports a definitive case study, where a high school student committed suicide in Tennessee after explicit chats concerning his sexuality were licked on Instagram and Snapchat (n.p). This event reveals the inadequacy of societal institutions in preventing cyberbullying on social media platforms.

Societal institutions worldwide are generally not matured enough to combat cyberbullying. Bullying is not new; but cyberbullying is a reasonably new, as it has come with digitization. A recent study has cited that although teachers understand traditional bullying, they are not adequately aware of cyberbullying (Kalender and Keser 192). In this case, a school is an ideal social institution that has recorded most of the cyberbullying cases. It is within which Rueb cites a study which found that 59% of students had been bullied or harassed online, but they felt that their teachers had failed to help them (n.p). This is revealed with the Tennessee teenager – Channing, where his school attempted to tamp the spread of awareness about cyberbullying and suicide (Rueb, n.p). This ultimate underperformance comes from the immaturity of many societal institutions in dealing with cyberbullying. First, digitization is improving exponentially, and so does cyberspace. Most institutions, for instance, schools cannot investigate and educate stakeholders about the use of new features of cyberspace (Kalender and Keser 191). Others are unaware of the appropriateness of anti-cyberbullying strategies (Vandebosch 31). Further, Kalender and Keser found that schools did not succeed in developing excellent anti-cyberbullying culture, and were unable to implement technological precautions (194). In that perspective, social institutions are not sufficiently developed to understand and prevent cyberbullying on social media platforms, especially for minority populations.


Most societal institutions have failed to embrace minority communities such as the LGBTQ, who are very susceptible to cyberbullying. Studies have found that people who identify as LGBTQ are likely to encounter cyberbullying up to 713% (Abreu, and Kenny 81; Vandebosch 37). Abreu and Kenny further reveal that most LGBTQs have higher rates of depression, suicidal thoughts, and low self-esteem (82). Channing is reported to have had absolute humiliation, as explained by his elder brother (Rueb, n.p). It is imperative to note that the experience is no different from other minorities within American society. However, focusing on Channing’s case, it appears that societal institutions lack sufficient immunity for the minorities, against social injustices. Rueb reports that the school had attempted to downplay the matter, and the Coffee County Sheriff’s Department failed to return a call regarding the incident promptly (n.p). This level of negligence is attributed to the perception of minority communities as societal outlier. This study further indicates that social support systems do not have sufficient understanding of the nature of LGBTQ (Abreu, and Kenny 80). This could be even challenging in states such as Tennessee where Channing incident occurred since the state generally has discriminatory laws against LGBT people (Thoreson n.p). Thus, failure to embrace minority communities such as the LGBT people has incapacitated social institutions to prevent cyberbullying.

Besides, most societal intuitions do not have sustainable policies or rules that can prevent cyberbullying on social media. The user mostly controls their social media activity, and societal institutions have little influence on how that. For instance, even though a workplace prohibited use of social medial during work hours, a cyberbully has all the time after work to execute their malice. There are barely any contingency strategies, as Vandebosch notes that some schools have a robust reporting system for cyberbullying (36). Nevertheless, that helps only after one has been bullied. Also, schools prohibit the use of social media platforms among other technologies while in school (Vandebosch 36; Kalender, and Keser 195). However, this policy does not apply after school, a time when students may time take to harass their schoolmates due to geographical separation. The same case may happen with workplaces, where though policies may be set up to prevent harmful use of social media, there are times when employees are outside of that context. Unlike traditional bullying, cyberbullying leverages the lack of physical touch, and thus, bullies may do so anywhere at any time. Therefore, the inherent nature of cyberbullying is challenging for social institutions to institute laws or policies which would prevent bullying on social media platforms. Hence, they have not done sufficient to prevent cyberbullying over social media platforms.

Despite the challenges, social institutions may apply suggested interventions recommended to prevent cyberbullying. First, social institutions ought to invest resources in learning the nature of cyberbullying that persist in them, as the basis for creating anti-cyberbullying interventions. This may involve research, from which both target populations and common bulling techniques can be identified. Vandebosch contends that an evidence-based approach is more likely to bear better outcomes in the anti-bullying intervention (42). Kalender and Keseralso note that awareness of the nature and levels of cyberbullying makes reporting, prevention, and intervention straightforward (197). Secondly, social institutions ought to appreciate the individuality of minority communities such as the LGBTQ, and appreciate their uniqueness. Institutions may foster this by creating programs that enhance inclusivity and appreciation of each person’s individuality. Thirdly, stakeholders in digitization and development of social media platforms ought to engage with community members in identifying gaps that contribute to cyberbullying. For instance, they may provide free education about various forms of social media consumption, that might lead to privacy and security breaches. That way, societal institutions will have done enough in noting, reporting, and preventing incidences of cyberbullying on social media platforms.

In conclusion, societal institutions are not doing enough in preventing cyberbullying on social media platforms. They are not sufficiently developed to understand and prevent cyberbullying on social media platforms, especially for minority populations. They have also failed to embrace minority communities such as the LGBTQ, who are very susceptible to cyberbullying. They also lack sustainable policies or rules that can prevent cyberbullying on social media. However, societal institutions may invest in anti-cyberbullying interventions, invite digital developers to educate on cyber safety, and create programs that do not discriminate minority communities.

Works Cited

Abreu, Roberto L., and Maureen C. Kenny. “Cyberbullying And LGBTQ Youth: A Systematic Literature Review And Recommendations For Prevention And Intervention”. J Child Adolesc Trauma, vol 11, no. 1, 2018, pp. 81-97. Springerlink, doi:10.1007/s40653-017-0175-7.

Kalender, Melike Kavuk, and Hafize Keser. “Cyberbullying Awareness In Secondary And High-Schools”. World Journal On Educational Technology: Current Issues, vol 10, no. 4, 2019, pp. 191-202. Birlesik Dunya Yenilik Arastirma Ve Yayincilik Merkezi, doi:10.18844/wjet.v10i4.4082. Accessed 2 Dec 2020.Dec 2020.

Rueb, Emily S. “A Teenager Killed Himself After Being Outed As Bisexual. His Family Wants Justice. (Published 2019)”. Nytimes.Com, 2019, Accessed 2 Dec 2020.

Thoreson, Ryan. “New Tennessee Law Deepens Discrimination Against LGBT People”. Human Rights Watch, 2020,

Vandebosch, Heidi. “SCHOOLS AND CYBERBULLYING: PROBLEM PERCEPTION, CURRENT ACTIONS AND FUTURE NEEDS”. International Journal Of Cyber Society And Education, vol 7, no. 1, 2014. Academy Of Taiwan Information Systems Research, doi:10.7903/ijcse.1149. Accessed 2 Dec 2020.