Addressing the Issue of Cyber Bullying2 Introduction Today, people all over the world have the capability to communicate with each other with a simple click of a button. With these technological advancements, society’s teens are appealed to the uses of computers, mobile phones and other electronic devices. Although many perceive social networking and technology as harmless amusement, the ones threatened by cyber bullying beg to differ. This recent craze of virtual harassment has inflicted agony and even suicides among teens ubiquitously. While we celebrate the advancing networking, we must confront the negatives they encompass.

Cyber bullying should be recognized as a growing issue that cannot be ignored. Background Cyber bullying occurs when individuals use the internet or other electronic devices to transmit hostile messages or images to another person. It has various forms, including direct harassment or indirect activities that are intended to damage the reputation or interfere with the relationships of the student targeted, such as posting harmful material, impersonating the individual, disseminating personal information or images, or activities that result in exclusion. (Cite: http://www. cyberbully. rg/cyberbully/docs/cblegislation. pdf) (CITE: Even though the word cyber bullying didn’t even exist a decade ago, the problem is pervasive in children’s lives today. (Shannon Brady 43) Data Although anyone can become a victim of cyber bullying, many teens become victims due to their desire to use modern technology and their failure to use safe internet practices. Cyber bullying is similar to other types of bullying, except it takes place online and through text messages sent to mobile phones. The harassers can be classmates, online acquaintances, or even anonymous users.

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One barrier that is difficult to overcome is determining who is responsible for the attacks online, because many counterfeit names are used in order to “hide behind the screen”. A survey reported that thirty-five percent of adolescents have been threatened online and almost one of five have had it happen more than once. (i-SAFE America 1) Due to advancements of social networking sites such as, Facebook, Myspace, or Twitter, the world is brimming with a plethora of problems and growing concerns- primarily cyber bullying.

Consequently, self-esteem and emotional health issues have had direct and indirect effects on the tormented teens and have even resulted in suicide. Cyber Bullying has skyrocketed throughout the past decade. In a national survey of 10-17 year olds, it was found that twice as many children indicated they had been victims or perpetrators of online harassment in 2005 compared with 2000. (New York State School Counselor Association 1) With these statistics in mind, it is vital that schools and communities tend to these troubled teens.

Cyber bullying is emerging as one of the more challenging issues facing educators and parents, as young people continue to embrace the Internet and other mobile communication technologies. Because of the traumatic outcomes, most schools have been implementing multiple measures to protect their students. (The legal standard enunciated by the courts governing when school officials can respond to off-campus online harmful speech is that school officials may impose formal discipline only when such speech causes, or threatens to cause, substantial and material disruption at school or interference with rights of students to be secure. (CITE? ttp://www. cyberbully. org/cyberbully/docs/cblegislation. pdf) Many school districts, akin to our own, have banned access of Yahoo Mail, MSN, Hotmail and other personal accounts in order to prevent students from being bullied on school property. In countless cases, bullying goes beyond what administrators and parents can regulate and ultimately must be taken over by law enforcement. Although some cyber bullying cases go unreported, law enforcement takes action in trying to prevent it. Legislation is aiming at penalizing cyber bullying in a number of states and at least seven states passed laws against digital harassment in 2007.

In August of 2008, the California state legislature passed one of the first laws in the country to deal directly with cyber bullying. “This bill circumvents the role of the State Board of Education (SBE) by giving the authority for the development and dissemination of curriculum to the California Department of Education without the approval of the SBE. ” (Legislation Assembly Bill 86 2008 4) Because many people are afraid to come to the police about an online problem, the police go to great lengths to uncover the online problems themselves.

A large number of youth and their parents believe that cyber bullying is not a big enough deal to cause problems. However, it has been proven that a victim of this type of bullying can be lead to serious disorders for the future including suicide. The reluctance youth have in telling an authority figure on instances of cyber-bullying has let to fetal outcomes. . At least three children between the ages of 12 and 13 have committed suicide due to depression brought on by cyber-bullying, according to reports by USA Today and the Baltimore Examiner.

NEW SOURCE: http://www. spanusa. org/? fuseaction=home. download&folder_file_id=AD0E0A92-D92B-71B5-7BF1F8529C3633FE. ) These fatalities have been recently coined with the vernacular term “bullycide” (CITE: Brenda High pg? www. bullycide. org) Phoebe Prince A prime example of “bully-cide” is a teen named, Phoebe Prince. Phoebe, a recent Irish immigrant, hanged herself Jan. 14 2010 after nearly three months of routine torment by students at South Hadley High School, via text message, and through the social networking site, Facebook. Russell Goldman 1) The death of the fifteen year old disturbed the town of South Hadley. For months, community anger simmered that no punishment had befallen Phoebe’s bullies. Petitions were signed and town hall meetings held. (SOURCE: http://www. nydailynews. com/news/national/2010/03/29/2010-03-29_phoebe_prince_south_hadley_high_schools_new_girl_driven_t o_suicide_by_teenage_cy. html) Massachusetts passed an anti-bullying bill on May 3rd 2010, in response to the recent suicide. We are giving our teachers, parents and kids the tools and protections they need so that every student has a chance to reach their full potential,” affirmed the state’s Governor Deval L. Patrick. (SOURCE: http://www. masslive. com/news/index. ssf/2010/05/massachusetts_anti-bullying_bi. html) (http://www. aacap. org/cs/root/facts_for_families/bullying) When one becomes a victim of cyber bullying, they are, potentially, a victim for life. Though the bullying itself may go away, the fear, the hurt, and the memories can scar the victim forever.

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