Essay 02—Courtney Steer (Revised)

Cyberbullying Needs to be Stopped

The developing internet has become a vital thing in every day life.  However, no one expected something so beneficial to turn into something so cynical.  Instead of using the internet for good, bullies have found a way to use it to their advantage.  In a growing electronic era, both cyberbullying and bullying still persist.  It harasses innocent victims while the bully sits back and laughs.  Bullies take pride in what they do to their victims.  However, rather then looking for suitable punishments, parents and teachers need to recognize the severity of the situation and nip it in the bud now, before it gets worse.

In recent years, social life on the internet has taken off.  Multiple websites such as Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and Formspring were created to provide a system for children to speak outside of the school setting.  It also gave a place to share thoughts and connect people.  Sounds amazing right? While it is an amazing place that seems so wonderful, the power of the internet can be abused.  Even though it does not take away from the amazingness, the internet can still be a scary place for bully victims.  The article “What Should the Punishment be for Acts of Cyberbullying?”, by Katherine Schulten, states that “students are encouraged by Facebook and Twitter to put their every thought and moment online, as they sacrifice their own privacy…”  In reaction to this statement, Nancy E. Willard, founder of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use and lawyer, said that “teenagers ‘think that because they can do it, that makes it right.'” “With increased power to do things comes increased responsibility to make sure that what you’re doing is O.K.”  In accordance to these quotes, Schulten and Willard are basically saying that by putting goofy pictures up or calling someone out on the internet, a victim in return is being harmed.  A bully can post a hurtful statement about his victim on some site such as Facebook for the whole world to see.  Something that started off so innocently has rapidly turned into something malicious.

Just recently, Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old attending Rutgers University, plunged off the George Washington Bridge to his untimely death.  While the suicide committed was sudden and devastating, investigators soon found out that, while using the internet and a web-cam, Dharun Ravi-Clementi’s roommate- and Molly Wei streamed live sexual encounters of Clementi and his male partner on Twitter.  It devastated the Rutgers student to the point of no return.

The article “Schools Urged to Teach Youth Digital Citizenship,” by Nancy Solomon, describes the Clementi case and how adults reaching out in both real and virtual worlds can help victims of bullying and cyberbullying.  Speaking on behalf of the Clementi case, John Palfrey says “I think it’s a case where good kids can do terrible things.”  NJ lawmakers have recently introduced a new legislation to make punishment harsher, however, Palfrey believes it is not the legislation that will stop the bullying, but adults reaching out in both virtual and real worlds.  He states, “We need education; we need mentoring; we need parenting.  We need to have a good law enforcement…We need to have social workers figure out how to reach out in cyberspace, as well as in real space…It’s an all hands-on-deck kind of issue.”

Further in the article, Palfrey goes on to explain how education is needed before punishment.  He believes that ‘technical revolution’ has outpaced the schools’ ability to stay on top of things.  Commonsense media, a nonprofit organization founded by Jim Steyer, uses movies,video games, and technology for children to create a curriculum for schools to use.  The curriculum focuses on making ethical decisions and thinking critically when it comes to the internet.  Steyer believes that there is much more education to be taught on cyberbullying and digital citizenship.  He expresses the likelihood that people in college today never received digital citizenship or media training while in middle school or high school.  Relating back to the Clementi case, the high school that Ravi and Wei attended never made mention of digital citizenship.

Although it is considered and ‘internet free-for-all,’ it does not have to be.  Researches state that social workers, parents, and teachers need to reach out to troubled kids online (Solomon).  The methods needed are not necessarily cutting back internet time or monitoring, but rather to provide services at community centers and schools and health centers in the real world as well as the virtual world.

To figure out if a child is being bullied, adults should look for signs such as becoming anxious, becoming withdrawn and going into a shell, moodiness, and appearing to be angry or depressed after using the computer.  And, to figure out if a child is bullying, adults should look for signs such as the child getting upset when they cannot use the computer, staying up all hours of the night on the computer, laughing excessively while using the computer, and avoiding discussions of what they are doing on the internet.

Bullying and cyberbullying are not something to be taken lightly.  Students suffer everyday both in the real world and the virtual world.  Most students may be embarrassed or afraid to tell an adult, which is why it is up to social workers, teachers, and parents to monitor the child for signs of suffering or bullying.  Punishment will only be helpful after finding an answer as to why it is happening.  Bullying can be prevented and nipping it in the bud now will only prove to be far more effective later.

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4 Responses to Essay 02—Courtney Steer (Revised)

  1. devanmcurley says:

    REBUTTAL FOR GRADE:

    Courtney, you make several strong points in your paper: how bullying and cyberbullying are not something to be taken lightly by no means. I can see that you said to look for signs such as the child getting upset when they cannot use the computer to see if that child is bullying others. I disagree though when you say, ” The methods needed are not necessarily cutting back internet time or monitoring, but rather to provide services at community centers and schools and health centers in the real world as well as the virtual world.” Providing services will not be effective because half of the students will not attend or will not pay attention to these programs. Who wants to sit in on another lecture about bullying and how you should be nice to others? This is all something we are taught at a young age by our parents or guardians, and a program will not change a kids decision whether to bully another student or not. Having programs like these will only be a waste of time for students and teachers. Monitoring programs that children go on is an effective way to prevent cyberbullying. If parents see something that their kid is doing on the computer that is not acceptable, they will bring it up with their child and prevent it from happening again by setting restrictions on the computer. If a child has restrictions while on the internet, cyberbullying would not occur.

    -Devan Curley

    • davidbdale says:

      That’s effective rebuttal, Devan. It sticks to the argument, challenges the likelihood that the original author’s proposal will have the desired effect, and suggests an alternative approach to solving the same problem.

      Since the original article offers no specific evidence for the effectiveness of its proposal, you’re not obligated to provide stronger or more credible counter-evidence (though it never hurts). Nice work.

  2. courtneysteer5 says:

    SELF REBUTTAL FOR A GRADE:

    This argument states that monitoring a child’s internet time and limiting internet access aren’t what will help. It says that creating help centers will. However, parents and teachers do need to step in and limit access. It will decrease bullying if parents are monitoring their child’s activity on the internet. It is ultimately up to the parents&teachers to look for signs and identify with their child, because only they can truly understand the child. Parents raise them up and teachers, well, teach them. I do believe that at some point though, classes will help. For example, AA meetings can help alcoholics so I believe that bullying classes can help bullies understand what they are doing is wrong.

  3. davidbdale says:

    Courtney, this will be difficult advice to take, I know, because for some reason students feel it’s important to talk about trends, but nothing is gained by saying that bullying, or cyberbullying, exist in even higher numbers, or that more people do something now than before. Behavior is either a problem or it isn’t. Your primary obligation is to identify the problem and the damage it causes. Your introduction paragraph takes the problem of bullying for granted, then warns us that it might get worse (but without telling us why it’s bad in the first place). Can you fix this?

    In your second paragraph you say: “It also gave a place to share thoughts and connect people. Sounds amazing right? Wrong.” But of course it is amazing, and wonderful, and enriching; and yes, it can be abused, but that doesn’t make it less amazing.

    You follow that by arguing that students sacrifice their own privacy, without telling us why that might be a problem, if in fact it is. Your second source says teens “do it” because they can, without, again, indicating why they shouldn’t. I don’t know where your third quote comes from, but again it fails to indicate there’s any menace in disclosing information on facebook. Then your authorial voice concludes that social media have turned malicious. Um. On the basis of what?

    Plenty of sources can help you detail the dangers of self-disclosure, Courtney. Use them liberally.

    Two things about your third paragraph need rewording to avoid misinterpretation, Courtney. First you have sudden and tragic investigators. Then, you have the roommate using the internet to his advantage, as if he were intentionally trying to out-maneuver Clementi in some way?

    Paragraph 4: Grammatically, the Clementi case does not need to be fixed. Nor can anybody speak on behalf of the Clementi case.

    At this point, you’ve gone so many paragraphs without advancing your argument (about parents and schools teaching internet ethics) that it’s re-emergence comes as a surprise. Consider starting your paragraph with a transition sentence that connects the problems you’ve been identifying with the solution you recommend. Then introduce the Palfrey article. (And lose the parenthetical citation at the end. We’re not doing that in this format.)

    Your final paragraphs are full of useful, practical advice that actually contributes to a sense that adults can address what you never quite identified as a problem worth solving. You’re off to a good start, Courtney, but we’ll need to work together on this to get it ready for your portfolio.

    Does this help at all so far?

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