Sunday, October 16, 2011

Social Media & Cyber Bullying

As I was sitting with my friend at her home, I begged her for a topic to write about. Finally, as I was about to go out to her screened porch overlooking the lake, I saw her 15 year old daughter sitting there with a friend. I posed the same question, "What should I write about?"

She and her friend unanimously said, "Bullying on Facebook." Translation - Cyber bullying.

Excellent topic.

We all have experienced a bully of some sort. Maybe it was the tough kid at school who wanted to steal your lunch money, or maybe it was the mean girl that terrorized you about your boyfriend - whatever the case may be, we all dealt with it, and moved on.

But today's form of bullying has taken on a new kind of medium. Social Media. That's right, from Facebook to Twitter to Viral Tex messages and You Tube video, the options for permanent humiliation and terrorizing are endless, and only growing larger, broader, and more in your face.

Recently a friend's daughter was involved in an altercation with some girls. Apparently, the police were called and requested a sit down with the parents. My friend pulled the officer aside and was discussing what brought this all about. The policeman said, "You would not believe how many situations we are called to that started on Facebook."


When I think back to my old bully in middle school, the one trashy little girl- who to this day has never spoken a word to my face, never actually did anything to hurt me. I stood up to her by refusing to let her continue to terrorize me. She would send threatening messages to me through other people, always promising to one day "jump me." I continued to get up each day and just do what I came to school to do. Guess what? Nothing ever actually happened. There were a few others tough girls through the years, or gossipy girls - we have all encountered them. Half of the time, all it took was to stand tall and refuse to let them hurt you.

I remember the scene from the movie Hope Floats, where the little girl finally stood up to the mean bully, never again to be bothered. Sometimes that's all it took, and in just a few short weeks, all would be forgotten, for the most part. But what about social media? How would I react to seeing a not-so-nice picture of me, and then some made up tag line and have it floating between my friends to the rest of the school? A picture says a thousand words, how do you explain away something like that?

Paparazzi do it to celebs everyday. Why would a 14 year old not think it is okay?

I was looking for something on the web, some tips of some sort, and found a really good website. It basically shares the stats on Cyber Bullying, and they are tragic.

According to Facts of The World - 42 % of kids in grades 6 - 10 have been a victim of online bullying, with one out of four kids receiving multiple threats from the same kid.

The biggest complaint - being ignored or disrespected (ie. Blocking & Defriending.) When I read that, I never actually thought about how defriending and blocking could be seen as bullying. But the truth is, anytime you disrespect someone online, it is a form of bullying. Heck, I'm guilty of that one.

There are some tips and definitions to help you understand cyber bullying:

Here is a very sobering story..

Finally, I will share this video with you:

Have your kids ever experienced cyber bullying? If so, share your story below or send a link in the comment section!


Doris said...

So, if I choose to defriend someone, for whatever reason, it's considered bullying? I never imagined that it could be taken that way. I simply defriend when I haven't communicated with someone in a given period of time or if someone perhaps ends up being a person I don't find to be healthy or an enhancement to my life (ie, negative attitude all the time, or constant whining). Interesting article Nicole...definitely got me thinking!

Savvy Working Gal said...

When I was 13 my best friend since 2nd grade decided she didn’t want to be my friend anymore. In addition, she convinced everyone in our group not to be friends with me either. She proceeded to make faces at me, laugh or make rude comments whenever I passed. I was thinking about this while watching an episode of Harry’s Law this week. A high school student, who wrote a snarky blog, wrote a post telling the world a classmate was gay; then told them to nod in her direction as they passed her in the hall. The classmate committed suicide. Granted I don’t think the cyber bully was guilty of murder, I do wonder how she these bullies can be so cruel. Back to my story if all of my former friends had suddenly defriended and blocked me on Facebook I would have been devastated. Not to mention dealing with all the nasty things I am sure would have been written about me. I can also picture my bully writing tomorrow at 2:00 everyone throw a spit ball at Savvy.

Carolin Newmeyer said...

It's kind of sad when you think about how technology like the internet can become a source of bullying. Nonetheless, like any form of negative pressure, one has to stand their ground. They have to make a decision and seek a solution to their problem. No man is an island, so one must communicate with others to take a step towards a resolution against the bullying.


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