While cyber bullying is a relatively new trend, it is quickly gaining a lot of attention. Use of technology and social networking websites among students today have created a sort of outlet for aggressive behavior; social drama between students can now occur without having to face your victim, though the damage is still done.
WHAT IS CYBER BULLYING?
Cyber bullying has come to define any sort of antagonistic targeting by other students via technology. This can include texting, email, instant messengers, chat rooms, and social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace. These means of communications are not fads. They are commercially successful enterprises which revolutionize communication. However, they find it difficult to monitor malicious usage by students, and in nearly all cases can do nothing to stop the attacks. It’s a double-edged sword, and the only realistic way to combat cyber bullying is by educating our students and encouraging them to take a positive step toward ending cyber bullying.
In a study done in 2010, 20.8% of students aged 10-18 have said that they have been cyber bullied in their lifetime. This doesn’t seem to be a one time situation: 17.0% admitted to being cyber bulled one or more times in the past 30 days. So cyber bullying doesn’t just happen once to someone, it is a constant environment of bullying.
This can include hurtful phrases, threats of violence or death, stolen identity, and general bullying. It can also include posting hurtful images and sharing it with other students.
A REAL THREAT
Just because cyber bullying happens in a virtual world doesn’t mean that it isn’t important in the real world.
In 2006, 13-year-old Megan Taylor Meier opened up a Myspace account. Shortly after activating, she received a friend request from a boy named Josh. They began to exchange messages, and quickly became online friends. Family and friends reported that Meier had been feeling depressed, but it was accredited to typical teenage stress. When she started messaging Josh, her spirits were lifted.
However, in October of that year, Josh sent a message to Meier that had a significantly different tone: “I don’t know if I want to be friends with you anymore because I’ve heard that you are not very nice to your friends.” Hurtful bulletins and public posts were made about her. Josh sent Meier another message saying “You are a bad person and everybody hates you. Have a bad rest of your life. The world would be a better place without you.”
Meier replied, “You’re the kind of boy a girl would kill herself over.” Her body was found twenty minutes later, suicide by hanging in her bedroom closet only three weeks before her fourteenth birthday.
The horrific part is that “Josh” never existed–his account was a complete fabrication by her friend’s mother, Lori Drew. Apparently Drew thought Meier had started gossip about her daughter and wanted to seek revenge.
In 2008, Drew was convicted; but in 2009, her conviction was appealed and overturned. There just aren’t a lot of laws or precedents on the matter, resulting in an incomprehensible gray area within the law which is leaving cyber bullying unpoliced. And due to lack of awareness, students (and even parents) are completely unaware of the real danger it causes.
Our Reality Check: Cyber Bullying Awareness program uses a high-energy interactive game show that uses the perfect blend of education and entertainment.