Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Cyber-bullying Is Not Okay.

Due to the advance in modern technology, bullies can now harass others at the click of a mouse through the internet. As technology evolves and communication with peers becomes more accessible, so does the instances for which cyber bullying can take place. Cyber-bullying is when a child or teenager is harassed, humiliated or tormented via digital technology, and also includes insults through text. 
The home is no longer a place where one can hide from bullies. According to cellular-news 62% of children in New Zealand use the internet and 42% use cellphones, this fact enforces the idea that cellphones and internet usage are becoming a habitual action in the lives of children and teenagers, making it impossile to evade bullying.
Cyber-bullies affect people by making their victims feel bad about themselves; they do this by, leaving demeaning messages, posting embarrassing photos, or spreading gossip through instant messaging and text. These incidents break the victim and create psychological problems which may later lead to suicide. Many parents think that bullying is a part of life ,and do not decide to take it seriously until one of their own children get hurt, but usually they step in too late. The advances in technology have only paved the way for advances in bullying, making it difficult for victims to cope in school, because word travels quickly in schools.  A classic example of a teen suicide due to cyber-bullying, would be the case of 'Megan Meier'. Megan was a 13 year old girl who had been dealing with depression, and was on medication. A cute boy had added her on myspace, and they soon became close. What started off happy soon turned nasty as the boy started to insult her and posted bulletins saying "Megan's a slut". Megan was devastated and did not know what she had done for her crush to act so violently towards her. Megan not being mentally well, ended up hanging herself in her wardrobe and had died the next day, but thats not the worst part. The murderer was actually one of Megan's friends' mother. The mother had created a Myspace account so that she could the victim's thoughts on her daughter. Because teens are so young and not mentally prepared for some of these situations, I believe cyber-bullying needs to be monitored and taken seriously. Some schools in California have started suspending cyber-bullies, and I believe this is a step in the right direction.

A case study showed that cyber-bullying can get out of hand with ways of protecting itself through this very thing we know of as freedom of speech. This study was an in-depth look into the consequences faced by Maxwell Zucker as he and a group of other senior male classmates created a website for the sole purpose of destroying the lives of the girls in the school's freshman year. All because a freshman known as, Gretchen, had declined his invitation to be his partner in one of the school events. For this reason, he felt as though every female student in Gretchen's year needed to punished. It is clear to that suspending the male students was a natural decision for the principle to make. From the Zucker family's prospective, it is no surprise either that they would rush to drastic measures involving legal action, because he does have a reputation to protect. The Zucker family used the First Amendment right to freedom of speech as an excuse for Maxwell's behaviour. Gretchen's family, along with other victims' families believed that the females involved were the only ones who were harmed. Reason being that despite the Zucker's lawyer claiming harmless internet usage, the environment these freshman girls would go through everyday at school would be unsafe as rumours spread. But due to parts of the law which protect cyber-bullies, there will always be complications when removing websites of victims like that which were covered in the 'Zucker VS Gibbons Prep School' case study. 

The issue of cyber-bullying is still not taken seriously, I am not surprised that many pre-teens, teens and their families continue to struggle. Research shows education in schools about cyber-bullying and how it affects others, is very beneficial and can prevent it. To solve this issue, the general public must be convinced that this is an issue worth fighting for. Only then can we start to fix this matter. 

Watch this video about Cyber-bullying. 

(2008). Nearly Half of New Zealand Children Use a Mobile Phone. Retrieved October 2, 2011, from Cellular-News Web site: http://www.cellular-news.com/story/30980.php?source=newsletters
(2008). Missouri Begins Prosecuting Under Cyberbullying Law. Retrieved  October 2, 2011, from Fox News Web site:http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,470629,00.html
Leishman, J (2005). Indepth: Bullying - Cyber-Bullying. Retrieved October 2, 2011, from Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Web site:http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/bullying/cyber_bullying.html
Sills, S. R. (1999). Case Study: Cyberbullying And Free Speech. Retrieved October 2, 2011, from Texas School Safety Center Web site:http://www.txssc.txstate.edu/txssc/downloads/iNetSafety/Activities/Cyberbullying_Free_Speech.pdf
Surdin, A. (2009). In Several States, A Push to Stem Cyber-Bullying. Retrieved October 2, 2011, from The Washington Post Web site:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/31/AR2008123103067.html
Tomazin, F. & Smith, B. (2007). The Bully You Can't See. Retrieved October 2, 2011, from The Age Web site:http://www.theage.com.au/news/in-depth/the-bully-you-cant-see/2007/03/09/1173166983566.html?page=fullpage
Zetter, K. (2007). Cyberbullying Suicide Stokes The Internet Fury Machine. Retrieved October 2, 2011, from Wired Web site:http://www.wired.com/politics/onlinerights/news/2007/11/vigilante_justice