Bullying Research Continues

The line between online and face-to-face bullying has become increasingly blurred, researchers at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society said Wednesday.

Continuing its collaboration with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation that was founded last February, the Law School center released a review of current scholarly literature on bullying. The paper defines and looks for solutions to online and in-person abuse synthesizing current research on the topic.

“Bullying is a multi-faceted phenomenon full of nuances,” Executive Director of the Berkman Center and co-writer of the review Urs Gasser wrote in an email. Gasser could not be reached by phone at his office.

Although research and public conversation often draw distinctions between bullying that occurs in person and in cyberspace, children are frequently involved in both spaces, according to the paper. It concludes that there is not a universally accepted definition for the two types of bullying.

Gasser said the paper will be central in clarifying other gray areas, such as challenging the traditional roles of the bully and the victim. The paper also will educate the general public on the current scholarship on bullying.

“The primary goal of the paper is to ‘translate’ important scholarly work and make it accessible to a broader concerned audience,” Gasser wrote.

The paper, titled “Bullying in a Networked Era,” is part of the Berkman Center’s Kinder and Braver World Project, an ongoing research project on the topic of youth bullying that it launched shortly after Lady Gaga’s visit to Harvard. During her visit, the pop star launched the Born This Way Foundation in Sanders Theater to a star-studded crowd, which included Oprah and Deepak Chopra. Its mission is to serve as a platform for conversations and research on bullying, and empower youth through grassroots and social media efforts.

The Berkman Center plans to continue its partnership with Lady Gaga’s foundation  and other  organizations, including the Graduate School of Education, to further investigate the topic of bullying. The center will release additional papers in the coming months as part of the Kinder and Braver World series.

—Staff Writer Elizabeth Auritt can be reached at eauritt@college.harvard.edu.

Tags