Comic Relief?

March 29, 2011

College Humor is a well known comedy website, which I have always found amusing for its cheeky and intelligent videos. They definitely appeal to the technologically advanced generation in high school and college currently, who coincidently are the most likely to encounter a cyberbullying situation.

While they poke fun at the issue, they are acknowledging the existence of cyberbullying which is half the battle. Our generation deals with issues and emotions differently than most, exemplified in this less than serious video. We thrive on sarcasm and comedy, which is some cases forces us to analyze the real issues at hand.

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Laying Down the Law

March 29, 2011

While almost all states have implemented a “Bullying” Law, there are very few who have included cyberbullying in the legislation.

Provided by Cyberbullying.us below is a link of the current laws for each individual state.

State Cyberbullying Laws

The state of Texas does have an anti-bully law in place, outlined in the student code of conduct for the state. It requires discipline to be carried out when bullying occurs in schools, but does not define cyberbullying as an offense at all.

In my high school experience alone, the community witnessed several teen suicides resulting from extreme cyberbullying, both online via social networking sites, and through text messaging. One girl was only 14, and found the pressure and embarrassment put upon her by her bullies too much, and chose to take her own life to escape the pain. Yet, the state has yet to address the issue in legislation.

With a state so large, and a growing population, the Lone Star State has no choice but to evolve with the times and face the situation head on.

The Good Fight

March 29, 2011

Founded in 1989, I-Safe [isafe.org ] is a leader internet safety education. Their website provides information about how to safely use the internet, reaching out to teens and children as well as parents and educators. As the internet became a main source of communication and socializing for teens and children, they saw a need for greater education in the foreign land of the world wide web.

One of the outlined sections is the Law Enforcement tab, which includes information about their work with Project Safe Childhood. This project works to educate parents on the issues their children will face while on the internet, as well as educating law enforcement about what they can do to prevent and discipline internet crimes, including cyber harassment and stalking.

This organization has seen an obvious need to educate about and prevent crimes carried out via the world wide web. More action needs to be implemented to eliminate cyber crime from our lives.

Sticks and Stones.

March 29, 2011

Isn’t that how the old saying goes? Words will never hurt me?

Physically, yes I suppose that is true, but there is much more to a person than they’re outwardly physical well being. Words can damage a person far deeper than any school yard brawl, causing wounds far too complicated for a band-aid to heal. Derogatory words can plant a seed of doubt and self loathing in perfectly normal and healthy individuals. Threatening words can create fear and stress in the victim’s life. No one can virtually through sticks or stones, but hateful and harmful speech can be delivered to anyone at the receiving end of an email account, cell phone, facebook profile, and many more mediums of communication.

Bullying is no new concept. When humans interact, there are always those people who feel it necessary to put others down in an attempt to gain power over others. But cyberbullying is relatively new, and continues to evolve as technology does. The creator of¬†www.cyberbullying.org , Bill Belsey, defines cyberbullying as, “anything¬†involving 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.”

A teacher, Belsey created his website in order to educate students and parents about a new phenomenon he had come into contact with in schools, and he wanted to put an end to it.

Our lives are almost completely digitally integrated.

If you are reading this blog you are connected to the internet, and I’m guessing that you have taken care of other digital business during your time online. You’ve probably checked an email account, (or two), chatted with a friend on Facebook, read an online newspaper, or maybe even blogged on a site of your own. And after you step away from the computer screen, if need be there is likely to be a smaller portable screen in the form of a cell phone at your side, ensuring your constant connectivity to a vast web of communication outlets.

The point being that we represent ourselves digitally through various mediums online and through wireless networks all day, everyday.

Why then, is it that it is so difficult to hold people accountable and charge them for harmful and dangerous digital speech? If someone threatens another individual in person, they can be reprimanded for their actions, for example in the form of a restraining order. If someone were to audibly claim to have made plans to cause harm to someone or something, actions could be taken to prevent anything from happening, for example by taking that individual into custody.

This past semester, my family ran into a very scary situation involving my brother’s former best friend and very unsettling and threatening text messages.

For the purposes of this blog, I would prefer not to use the friend’s name, so I’ll just call him Charlie. My brother and Charlie were very close during high school, mostly because Charlie was going through a very rough time and my brother has a bleeding heart. They were friends for almost 6 years until, long story short, Charlie’s emotional instability and various contributing factors led to the end of their friendship, which in turn led to Charlie making threats on my brother’s life.

Now I don’t know about you, but I take threats on the life of my brother very seriously. Especially coming from an individual with known mental and emotional issues, who is notorious for manipulating friends with threats of taking his own life to make them pay attention to him. And although Charlie had cried wolf many times before, this time he confessed to buying a gun and threatened my brother’s entire circle of friends.

Worried for the lives of their children and of Charlie, who had once been welcomed in as a part of the family as he was often exiled from his own, families of the boys involved sought help from the local police. They wanted restraining orders, and they wanted Charlie to get medical help. But nothing could be done, simply because all of the threats were made via text message.

There are flaws in our system. They need to be fixed. Problems like the situation my family went through should not be so difficult to manage and get over. We need to make a change.