Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"The Truth About Cyber Bullying"

Cell phones and computers are the greatest inventions of this century and one of the greatest bully tools.

Anna, a 14-year-old high school student from Poland was recorded by a cell phone video camera when her classmates pinned her down and stripped her to her underwear.

Cyberbullying is a serious threat to teens. Stories like Anna’s occur daily in every state and town. The National Crime Prevention Council defines cyberbullying as “teens using the Internet, cell phones, or other devices to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person.”

In Anna's case, the bullies were classmates that she had known for a long time. She was considered an “easy girl” at the school because someone said he had caught her making out with an older student. This gossip turned out to be untrue, but too late. The bullies posted the video on the Internet - because “everybody does it.” The bullies took inspiration from bouncers of a local club who filmed two teenagers having sex in a bathroom. Soon after the video was published on the Web, the couple had to change their school and even dyed their hair so people wouldn't recognize them.

Cyberbullying now affects over thirty percent of American teens. Twenty percent have been threatened online more than once. Almost 60 percent have not told their parents about their problems. The worst is in Japan, where almost every grammar school student owns at least one cell phone. It is suspected that from 1999 to 2005 cyberbullying may have been the cause of 16 suicides.

At first, the authorities from Anna's school wanted to brush this tragedy under the carpet. The molestation occurred when no teacher was in the classroom because she had been called out by the principal. Leaving 20 students unsupervised was a breach of school policy. When the teacher returned Anna was brought to the nurse and sent home. The four bullies resumed their day as if nothing happened. Anna's parents were not home at that time so she was left with her brother. No school authorities called Anna later to ask how she was doing.

Cyberbullying has its roots in school violence. A study published in the Journal of School Violence found that “bullies [are] among the most popular students in the school, receiving more peer nominations on average than students uninvolved in bullying.”.

Polish television reported on high school students who verbally abused their teacher and then put a trashcan on his head. The incident was recorded and posted on video websites. The teacher later retired and the bullies went unpunished

Cyberbullying is anonymous and cowardly. You don’t have to be big and strong to hide behind your cell phone or laptop. Socialization now happens by instant message, facebook, myspace and chat rooms.

There is no perfect way to protect your child from cyberbullying. “Parents also need to understand that a child is just as likely to be a cyberbully as a target of cyberbullying and often go back and forth between the two roles. Children have killed committed suicide after having been involved in cyberbullying incidents.

The day when Anna's was stripped and humiliated in public was her last visit to school. “Everyone was laughing; it all was great fun,” remembered a boy who witnessed the entire episode. He looked uncomfortable in the suit that his parents told him to wear to Anna's funeral.

She hung herself in her room when the shameful video had been published on the web.

Is bullying a problem?

Mike Bogdanski

America’s ANTI Bully Solution


1 comment:

parentsdigital.com said...

Mike - What a great blog post. This topic is dear to my heart. What is to stop someone from ruining my child's self-esteem in this way? How do I protect my kids and teach them how wrong this is? I know the answers aren't easy and I'm not looking for you to answer them but just wanted you to know that your posts are great ones that I wish all parents were reading. Thank you!