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.