The Spiral of Bullying

As communication methods evolve and change, there are many positive and negative effects on the way our society communicates. Modern communication has given us the ability to reach one another easily, at the touch of a button. On the downside, modern communication now almost exclusively uses online technology, which can foster destructive or harmful behaviors. An example of this is cyber bullying. Bullying has always been an issue, but now that it has taken the form of online harassment, the torment never stops for the bullied.

Cyber bullying, especially online, forces the bullied to partake in behavior that further isolates them. The Spiral of Silence Theory says that people tend to remain silent when they fear that their views do not lie with the majority opinion. The theory states that people remain silent for two main reasons: the fear that they will be rejected and the fear that they will be isolated. The longer people remain silent, the more they spiral into a state of total silence, in which they will never voice their opinion.


Cyber bullying can take many shapes and forms in our modern technological era. According to, cyber bullying is bullying that takes place on an electronic device. Examples of cyber bullying include, malicious text messages or emails, gossip sent on social media devices, posting humiliating pictures or fake profiles. Those who are bullied are more likely to turn to dangerous behaviors to cope with the feeling of being rejected and teased. In 2013, The CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey found that 14.8 % of students nationwide have been bullied online within the last year.


Now that bullying has become an online phenomenon, the bullies can remain anonymous and they can harass their victims everyday at any hour. This forces the bullied into a perpetual state of silence because it is increasingly hard for them to fight back. Victims may now have to endure face-to-face bullying as well as cyber bullying. So now even when they are finally alone, they still have to withstand the pressures of bullies. This results in the bullied becoming further isolated because they feel that they have nowhere to turn.

The Spiral of Silence Theory helps explain why students feel that they cannot speak up when they are being bullied. This theory applied to bullying in the past, but it is even more relevant now that communication has evolved to predominantly online methods. The bullied will continue to fall deeper into the spiral as they feel more and more isolated by their peers. Although the statistics have changed in favor of the bullied, we still have a way to go to stop it altogether and end the silence.

– Hannah Rodgers