If you have a Facebook or a MySpace profile then you probably spend a lot of time communicating with your peers online.
This has given rise to a new form of peer-to-peer conflict called “cyber-bullying.”
Cyber bullying is when a child, preteen or teen is taunted, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by someone using the Internet or other digital technologies. Cyber bullying usually takes one of two forms: direct attacks and indirect attacks. Direct attacks occur when threatening messages are sent directly to another student. Indirect attacks occur when threatening messages are sent to the student via a third party. In both instances, the consequences can be very serious.
Children have killed each other and even committed suicide after being involved in a cyber bullying incident. Kids who cyber bully others may be motivated by anger, revenge, frustration, jealousy, and even boredom. Many do it for laughs or to get a reaction. Others do it because they enjoy acting out the role of a “tough guy” online. Some even do it because they think they are standing up for someone else and righting a wrong.
But most students who get involved in cyber bullying are basically good kids—they just get caught up in the situation. Whatever the motivation, you need to know that cyber-bullying is illegal. You can be charged with cyber-harassment and even criminal charges. In some cases, if hacking or password and identity theft is involved, it can lead to a felony conviction. If you or someone you know is the victim of cyber bullying you MUST take action. Your options should always include seeking out a parent, teacher, or other authority to figure to let them know what is happening. Here are some specific steps you can take:
- Send an anonymous note to a school administrator in the mail (don’t list a return address) informing them of the specifics. The school will be obligated under the law to investigate this matter.
- Drop an anonymous note in a teacher’s mailbox informing them of the details of the incident.
- Tell a teacher or administrator about the incident and ask to remain anonymous.
When reporting the incident, be sure to include any evidence of the cyber bullying you may have. Even if you don’t have evidence, you should still report. If no one does anything, the negative outcomes are limitless. But imagine, taking one of these simple steps can mean the difference between someone’s happiness and even their life.
Directions: Read the scenario below and answer the questions that follow.
Amanda is in the 9th grade. She is the only freshman on her school’s varsity soccer team—she is just that good. Most of the girls on the team like Amanda but there are a couple of seniors who think that as a freshman she should be playing on the JV team. The team captain, Courtney, is upset that Amanda is getting so much playing time and doesn’t think it’s fair to the other seniors on the team.
There is an email list of all the team members and their parents that Courtney uses to send out periodic team communications.
Somehow, Courtney is able to obtain the password to Amanda’s email account and hacks into it. Courtney starts sending out racy and inappropriate sexual comments from Amanda’s email to another girl on the team. Angered by these messages, the girl confronts Amanda in the parking lot one day after practice and says, “Why do you keep sending me those messages? I’m not interested so stop pushing up on me!!”
Amanda is shocked and completely taken by surprise. She tries to explain that she never sent any messages like that, but her teammate doesn’t believe her, instead producing printouts of the emails sent from Amanda’s account as evidence.
As Amanda stares at the printouts in her hand. She suddenly notices Courtney standing off to the side, snickering. In a flash, Amanda realizes that somehow Courtney must be behind all of this. She vows to get her revenge. That night, she emails Courtney’s mom a message saying that she saw Courtney coming out of a Planned Parenthood clinic last weekend.
Enraged, Courtney decides to get back at Amanda by posting the fake messages she sent on Facebook. She sends it out to everybody in her contacts and it is what everybody is talking about at school the next day. Now everyone at school thinks Amanda is trying to hit on girls from her soccer team and poor Amanda is ridiculed the entire day until she can’t take it anymore and flees the campus in tears.