Academic journal article International Journal of Cyber Criminology

Cyber Bullying in the Netherlands: A Criminological Perspective

Academic journal article International Journal of Cyber Criminology

Cyber Bullying in the Netherlands: A Criminological Perspective

Article excerpt

Introduction

The internet has become a common and indispensable phenomenon in our society. At the same time, cyber crime generates a lot of media attention. Furthermore, reports on the prevalence of cyber crime appear regularly and the Dutch government prioritizes the tracking and prevention of cyber crime. The term 'cyber crime' refers to criminal and deviant behaviour through the use of online technologies (Wall, 2001; Yar, 2012). Cyber crime is, either implicitly or explicitly, conceptualized as the contemporary counterpart of traditional crime, i.e., crimes that occur only in the offline world (Taylor, Fritsch, Liederbach, & Holt, 2010). Studies on cyber crime predominantly focus on identifying the types and prevalence of cyber crimes and often lack a theoretical base. Studies on the applicability of criminological theories to cyber crime are scarce (McQuade, 2006; Taylor, Caeti, Loper, Fritsch & Liederbach, 2006). Anyone who studies cyber crime will eventually have to look in to theories in order to find an explanation for the findings. At the same time, research is necessary to test the applicability of criminological theories to cyber crime or, to further develop theoretical approaches (e.g., Bernard, 2002; Bottoms, 2000). Lately, criminologists have been debating whether existing criminological theories are useful for the explanation of cyber crime or whether the phenomenon requires novel theoretical explanations (Jaishankar, 2008). In essence, the question is whether cyber crime constitutes a new category of criminal behaviour (Yar, 2005; Jaishankar, 2008; Holt, 2013; Yar, 2012).

The Offline-Online dichotomy in relation to Cyber Crime

Researchers, politicians, and policy makers see the offline and online worlds as two separate worlds. The two are regarded as opposites, and characteristics attributed to the online world do not apply to the offline world: the transformation of time-space relationships, (perceived) anonymity, and the relative ease with which social identities can be manipulated (Yar, 2006). Of these characteristics, (perceived) anonymity is particularly connected with online disinhibition: in the online world people behave with fewer restrictions and inhibitions than in the offline world (Suler, 2004). With the arrival of the internet, a new world seems to have emerged: the online world, or cyber space. The question is, however, whether the offline-online dichotomy does justice to the complexity and interrelatedness of offline and online interactions. Subrahmanyam and Smahel (2011) call attention to the immense development in the use of online technologies since the arrival of the internet and argue that the offline and online worlds are interwoven. Research also shows that online interactions of youth occur predominantly in the context of existing relationships (Livingstone, Haddon, Görzig, & Ólafsson, 2011) and that young people increasingly see their offline and online interactions as a coherent experience (Livingstone, 2009).

Researchers, politicians, and policy makers also use a dichotomy with respect to crime. Traditional crime takes place in the offline world, whereas cyber crime is committed using online technologies (Wall, 2001; Yar, 2012). There is no consistent definition of cyber crime; it is an overarching term that includes new forms of criminal behaviour - such as hacking - as well as digital forms of traditional crime (Stol, 2012).3 In addition, online deviant behaviour - although not liable to punishment - is also seen as part of cyber crime; an often cited example is cyber bullying (Yar, 2012). For example, in the Dutch Safety Monitor, one of the four investigated cyber crimes is cyber bullying (Veiligheidsmonitor 2013, p. 75). Technology has always been used in criminal activities, but the definition and categorizing of a large variety of criminal and deviant behaviours on the basis of technology is new (McGuire, 2007). The question is whether cyber crime differs fundamentally from traditional crime or whether the arrival of the internet merely offers new options for criminal behaviour (Leukfeldt, Domenie, & Stol, 2010). …

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