Serious Talk: Online Bullying
Online bullying is a fast growing problem. It deserves just as much credit for a legitimate form of bullying as physical or emotional bullying does.
One of the biggest things to keep in mind when dealing with cyberbullying is to fully understand what the term means. When it comes to defining the term, stopbullying.gov defines the word/act as:
“Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.”
The same website also provides several examples of how cyberbullying is different than other forms such as how cyberbullying can happen 24/7 and messages and images can be posted anonymously. Removing photos and messages from the internet is also an extreme pain.
There have been several occasions of cyberbullying taking the lives of those who were pushed past their breaking point. 18-year-old Jessica Logan committed suicide upon learning that a private photo she sent to her boyfriend was spread throughout at least seven high schools in the Cincinnati area after they broke up. The abuse continued on social media platforms and eventually led for her to take her own life. Her parents sought legal action against the school. Ohio governor Kasich signed the Jessica Logan Act, which went into effect in November of 2012.
Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old student who came out as a gay youth, was filmed kissing another man without his consent by his roommate at the time. The videos were then uploaded to Twitter and viewed by another one of his hall mates. From there, many insulted him, which led to his suicide in 2010. Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei were each convicted. According to reuters.com, Wei entered a plea agreement leading to a sentence of 300 hours of community service, counselling, and classes on dealing with people with alternative lifestyles in lieu of jail time. Ravi, however, was charged on all 15 counts of his involvement and was sentenced to 30 days in prison in addition to 300 hours of community service, 3 years’ probation, and counselling on cyberbullying and alternative lifestyles. He was also charged a fine of $10,000, according to NJ.com.
The infamous case of Amanda Todd is one many know well. Todd began using video chat in the seventh grade to meet new people. Through this platform, she met someone who convinced her to bare her breasts on camera. He then proceeded to use the photos to blackmail her into showing him more. Police later informed her that the photo was circulating on the internet, which led to her experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Though she and her family moved from home to home in an attempt to get away, her past followed her and led to her suicide in 2012. Aydin Coban was charged on accounts of child pornography and child indecent assault. However, charges were laid to multiple people believed to be involved. Her mother also began the Amanda Todd Trust at RBC to raise money for anti-bullying initiatives and programs for youths dealing with mental illnesses.
If you find yourself the victim of cyberbullying, cybersafetysolutions.com suggests doing the following to protect yourself:
- Tell your parents, teacher or other trusted adult
• Save and store the emails, chat logs or SMS’s in case of police investigation
• Block and delete the bully from all contact lists
• Do not respond to nasty emails, chats, SMS or comments – this is what the bully wants so ignore them. (They will need your help to do this)
• Use the ‘report abuse’ button which all websites/applications have. Tell them the problems you are having and they are obligated to investigate.
• If the bullying continues – delete your current email and start a new account. Only give your new details to trusted friends.
• Get a new phone number if being harassed via phone. Report the problem to your phone company and insist on a free new number.
• If the bullying continues get your parents to report it. Each state has laws that prohibit online bullying and stalking.