Over the last two decades, bullying has emerged in academic literature and public debate as one of the most worrying social issues which involve young people. Confirming the social perception about this phenomenon, several public service advertisements have focused on it, aiming at growing people awareness; at the same time, Institutions have started to discuss about public policies against bullying and against the emerging phenomenon of cyberbullying, which is usually considered as a typology of bullying, spread through the Net or social media.
The research – directed by Nicola Ferrigni (Assistant Professor in Political Sociology and Link LAB director) – focuses on cyberbullying, aiming to study if and how it represents a different phenomenon in respect of bullying, which requires a new approach in public policies management.
From a methodological point of view, we carried out a quantitative and qualitative research aimed to measure the cyberbullying diffusion among Italian young people, the ways and the tools through which cyberbullying takes shape, the young people awareness about it and what they think about public policies against it. To this purpose, on one hand we have interviewed about 12.000 students coming from Italian high schools, on the other hand we carried out 10 focus groups which involved about 300 high school students.
The research shows that cyberbullying is not a different phenomenon, but a process of bullying mediatization due to which the social media logic re-invents, re-iterates and re-acts the three main features of traditional bullying: aggression (or acting against someone) becomes “acting for myself”, reproducibility stand in for repetitiveness, the imbalance of power takes shape in the shift from corporeality to “talent”.
Therefore, as a modern talent show cyberbullying emerges as a mediatized phenomenon which forces Institutions to provide public policies aimed to prevent cyberbullying rather than to punish cyberbullies.