High Tech Bullies

“Sticks and stones
May break my bones
But words will never hurt me.”

Growing up my friends and I use to sing that rhyme to our bullies before we would stick out our tongues and then run away to tell the nearest teacher. Very mature I know, but what else could be expected from 8 or 9 year old girls. Nowadays things are different as kids are being attacked by cyber-bullies.

But in these cases it doesn’t stop when school ends, the abuse and degradation continue online. It has become a new way to taunt and torment class members, called cyber bullying. And what is cyber-bullying?

“Cyber bullying involves the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behaviour by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others.” Bill Belsey [6]

Well the innocence of my childhood rhyme did work for a little while, the truth of the matter is that words are often much hurtful to a child. Kids are very susceptible to the words they hear and often let others judge the kind of person they are or rather the person they will become. And if a child does not develop into the “right” kind of person they are harassed for their individuality.

And these days it is getting easier to harass people with the internet. Cyber bullying can occur on instant messages, public chat forums, and even cell phones. And when it happens over the internet home doesn’t become a safe haven anymore. In fact it becomes more public and humiliating for the person being abused.

Take the recent case of Sam Leeson, a 13 year old boy who his sister described him as “always happy and smiling.” [1] Sam was a follower of emo music, that is emotional rock such as My Chemical Romance, and he proudly displayed it on his Bebo page, But then people started with the name-calling and abusing him for his taste in music. What was the end result? On June 5th, 2008 he hung himself.

Though this isn’t an isolated case. In July of 2007 a Japanese third year high school student jumped to his death off a building after naked picture and rude comments were posted about him on an online bulletin board. [4] In the spring of 2001 a high school student, Lauren Newby, was berated on an online message board when a thread was started about her caled “Lauren is a fat cow MOO BITCH”. [3]

Using the internet people can remain anonymous while they say and do things they would never in reality. Using this mask of anonymity they can attack, degrade, and abuse people hiding behind their cowardice. Like the aforementioned thread about Lauren, the one who started it chose to remain anonymous.

Young people who chose the internet as a weapon against others feel removed from the action and the emotional feedback or consequences they cause the person at the receiving end. Without seeing this feedback there is almost no feelings of empathy or remorse.

So how do we stop actions like this? Parents need to become more involved in the online world their children are entering. And not only the parents of those abused but more importantly the parents of the children who are doing the abusing. Discipline becomes very important when raising a child, but alot of laws these days prevent proper discipline and right of parents over the children. But that is for another topic for another day.

References.
1. http://www.guardian.co.uk/socialnetworking.internet
2. http://www.webaverti.ca/cyberbullying.aspx
3. http://mwt/feature/cyber_bullies/html
4. http://www.asianpacificpost.com/Online_bullying_Japan.html
5. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/wbully15/
6. http://www.cyberbullying.org/
7. http://org.kidshelpphone.ca/media/21704/2007_cyber_bullying_report.pdf
8. http://www.bullying.org/public/frameset.cfm

2 comments for “High Tech Bullies

  1. rinzu
    June 21, 2008 at 11:31 am

    thsi cyber bullying is fast catchin up…

    had heard of it but dint know so much…
    gud one

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