"you were born ugly and youl die ugly too": Cyber-Bullying as Relational Aggression


  • Margaret Jackson Simon Fraser University
  • Wanda Cassidy Simon Fraser University
  • Karen N. Brown School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University




Cyber-bullying increasingly is becoming a problem for students, educators and policy makers.  In this paper, we consider cyber-bullying as a form of relational aggression; that is, behaviour designed to damage, harm or disrupt friendship or interpersonal relationships through covert means.  We draw on the findings from a study of students in Grades 6 through 9, conducted in five schools, in a large ethnically diverse metropolitan region of British Columbia, Canada, to demonstrate the interconnection between cyber-bullying and relational aggression. Consistent with the relational aggression framework, girls were found more likely than boys to participate in these behaviours. We conclude that intervention strategies should consider gender differences and also aim at changing the trajectory of relational aggression to providing relational support and care.

Keywords: cyber-bullying; relational aggression; intervention strategies; gender differences

Author Biographies

Margaret Jackson, Simon Fraser University

Dr. Margaret Jackson:  Dr. Jackson is presently Professor in the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University, Director, FREDA, an SFU centre undertaking research on violence against women and children, and Co-Director, SFU Institute for Studies in Criminal Justice Policy.  Other research areas of interest include bullying/cyberbullying amongst youth, sociocultural factors impacting marginalized girls, and criminal justice policy analysis.  Currently she is involved in a Domestic Violence (DV) Tracking study, the Vancouver Community Court evaluation, a DV policy audit, and a youth survey on violence.

Wanda Cassidy, Simon Fraser University

Dr. Wanda Cassidy: Dr. Cassidy is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University and Director of SFU’s Centre for Education, Law and Society, an endowed centre aimed at improving the legal literacy of youth in school through a program of research, teaching and community-based activities.  Dr. Cassidy’s research interests also include the ethics of care, social responsibility, social justice and human rights education, at risk and marginalized youth, and cyber-bullying.  She is currently Principal Investigator of a four-year study examining students’ and teachers’ understanding of citizenship, human rights, identity and environmental sustainability issues and was Co-Investigator on two recent SSHRC-funded studies, one on ethics of care and the other on cyber-bullying.

Karen N. Brown, School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University

Karen Brown: Karen Brown is a Ph.D candidate and instructor in the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University and a researcher with the Centre for Education, Law and Society in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University. She has authored and co-authored a number of articles on violence and threats against Canadian lawyers and cyber-bullying/cyber-kindness in schools. She is currently working on two research projects: conducting a national study of violence, threats and aggression against Canadian lawyers in each province and territory, and working on the Legal Literacy for Youth, an integrated, holistic project for British Columbia schools. Her research interests include violence and threats against lawyers, and cyber-bullying/cyber-kindness in schools.