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Monday, July 2, 2012

Cyberbullying: An Up and Coming Danger to our Society

In preparation for my first blog this month {which I do realize I am a day late}, I decided that I wanted to write on something that I have seen more and more in news.  This is not something that I have personally been affected by, but I do think it is something that we should all think about.  As my biological clock continues to tick and Michael and I discuss having children, this is something that I do think about.  It makes me hurt so much for all the children out there that are going through something like this.

cyberbullying: the use of the Internet and related technologies to harm other people, in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner

Ever since the dawn of the ever-growing internet and social web sites, it has been easier for people to become anonymous bullies.  It is easier to mock and make fun at those that may not be as pretty or as thin.  Or someone that we just find different.  Yesterday I caught myself watching an ABC Family movie called Cyberybully.  Short synopsis:  The movie is about a teenage girl, I believe she just turned 16 or 17, who gets a personal laptop and joins a popular social site Clixster {much like Facebook}.  She ends up getting harassed and slammed by people all over the school.  This puts her in a depressive spiral to which posts a video giving her "goodbye".  I will go ahead and spoil part of it for you and tell you that she does not end up successful in her suicide attempt.  The overall message is simple.  It is easy to pick on people, but why make people feel like they are less than you? According to the National Conference of State Legislature, 34 states have enacted laws against cyberbullying.  Only 34.  Why not all the states?  Why do they not all recognize how hurtful and demeaning this can be?  Is it because it is harder to trace?

Statistics taken from a survey prepared by I-Safe.org.  These numbers are based on 1,500 students in grades 4 through 8.  Not even high schoolers.
  • 42% of kids have been bullied while online. One in four have had it happen more than once.
  • 35% of kids have been threatened online. Nearly one in five had had it happen more than once.
  • 21% of kids have received mean or threatening e-mails or other messages.
  • 58% of kids admit someone has said mean or hurtful things to them online. More than four out of ten say it has happened more than once.
  • 58% have not told their parents or an adult about something mean or hurtful that happened to them online.

It is really hard for me to fathom being this spineless by hiding behind a computer screen.  I am not condoning bullying in any form and I know that I have said things about people that are not considered "nice" in any form of the word.  But this is a really form of hatred and hurt that is not getting the necessary attention that it should.  It is just as bad as finding someone and physically beating them up, only these bruises do not heal.
  
I have never been bullied and as I said before, I have not been personally been affected by this, but I have been called names before and it hurts.  I cannot imagine how it would feel to be anonymously bullied or even knowing who the verbal attacker was.  I cannot imagine being in such a low state of emotion that ending your life is the only feeling of release.  It is so hard for me to understand the mental state that one would have to be in to feel the need to hurt people.  But I guess that is why I want to be a psychology major.  To understand this.

This is something to be aware of.  If you have teenagers on the internet, monitor them.  I know that you become their enemy by doing this, but it breaks my heart to think of families that are torn apart by this.  Keep your kids safe.

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