Cyber-bullying is the new cyber-parenting frontier, no one knows exactly what to do, or how to take the first steps in understanding it and dealing with it.
Bullying has been a problem for years, physical, verbal, and social, but because of the massive growth in social networks we now have a new fourth way – cyber bullying. We are living in an age of rapid communications, connectedness, and public transparency which is causing an amplification of bullying – cyber bullying.
Here is the problem – not enough is being done to address it. It’s happening, and it is a loaded gun. One with more than one bullet and nobody fully understands where it is aimed.
In one recent example (and there are many) a teenager, who we will call John Doe, posted a creative and talented music video online to share with his friends. Harmless right? No. Some intolerant high school kids decided to create a Facebook group called, “I hate John Doe”. Many other minors proceeded to e-rip this kid apart for no apparent reason other than to cyber-bully at the entertainment expense of John Doe. There were more than 90 mean spirited and downright hateful comments. One commenter offered, “I would stomp on your windpipe and kill you” among other disapproving personal orientation references.
Most of these cyber bullies do not even know the individual they were berating. We all know that kids can be mean, and we all know that some conflict is part of creating your own identity. However, social networks and rapid communications can create “out of context” meaning. As the virtual word of mouth takes on higher velocity so does the distortion of the context, and as a result reputations, egos, confidence, and safety of the minors are at stake.
This incident above is one of thousands going on today on other online social platforms not just Facebook. How can the school, parent, or police deal with this? An incident like this requires swift and strong discipline. The problem is that there are no good solutions today. Government and authorities are slow to act. Schools feel like they don’t have enough muscle, parents are often unaware, and the kids lack the judgement to deal with the problem.
Back to our example above, what happened? Did the school suspend the offenders? Did the police warn or otherwise discipline the kids? Were all the parents notified? Did Facebook remove their account privileges? The answer is NONE OF THE ABOVE.
Next: Part II – I started asking some questions. I offer you the answers I received.
Please feed free to comment and add to this discussion. Or feel free to email me at lindafurrier at gmail dot com if you have information that you’d like to share privately.