“If there’s one goal of this conference, it’s to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up,” says President Obama at a conference in the White House.
The issue of bullying has always been very serious for youngsters and teens. Lately, the forms of bullying extended to the online community and kids are being taunted on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Formspring. These social media networks are providing a new medium for cyber bullying and it has caused some victims to go as far as taking their own lives. ” Cyber bullying gives tormentors a wider stage, a cloak of anonymity,” says Lydia Kulbida, a reporter on WTEN.
The College of Saint Rose located in Albany, New York hosted a talk today concerning the topic of cyber bullying. The panelist consisted of Lt. Joseph Donohue of the state police crime unit, Lori Cullen, a blogger on the Times Union, Sandra Morley, principle of Bethlehem Central Middle School, Professor Stephen Birchak, and James Preller, author of over 80 children’s books.
The discussions were centered on how parents should handle the situation with their kids. Lori Cullen, a blogger on the TU was actually surprised when she first found out that kids actually had an online persona. Lt. Joseph Donohue believes that “talk about cyber bullying is as important as the talk about sex.” He explains. “Think about your most embarrassing moment but imagine that being online. That lasts for a lifetime.” “As parents, it’s important to adopt your parenting to the online world,” Says Cullen, and that “the eye that we have to keep changes as [the kids’] ages change.” According to her, “a lot of kids have this attitude that it’s no big deal.” “Some kids don’t know how to distinguish between bullying and just having fun.”
Principle Sandra Morley agrees that times have changed: “8 years ago, if parents say something is happening to their kids online, it was easy to deal with.” Now, this has become an enormous issue that has gone beyond the effects that anyone could have imagined. The online world can be both beneficial and harmful depending on the usage. According to Morley, schools are now incorporating anti-bullying into their curriculums and schools are now addressing the issue differently. “Bullies are very sneaky, so we need to know our kids well.” She says. “Parents need to teach them right from wrong, parents are the key.” Says Donohue. “By the time the police gets involved, it’s already too late. [The victims] have already been bullied.”
James Preller spoke about the “bystander effect” which is the theory that if a group of 6 students walk by someone who’s being bullied, they wouldn’t do something because they think that someone else will do it. But if it’s only one person, they’re more likely to do something. Kulbida agrees that “usually bullying is not done alone. All it takes it that one bystander to step up and say no.”
“Human aggression has been around since forever ever since humanity have existed.” Says Professor Stephen Birchak. However, we are at a point where this aggression is heightened by the technological tools we encompass. Our culture is entertained by celebrity gossip and bullying. Kulbida gave us the statistics that college students have a forty-percent lower empathy rate that twenty or forty years ago. Kids all want to be what we call an “instant celebrity.” They innocently throw mean comments and stuff out there and they get the attention from their peers, but they’re actually hurting someone in the process which can lead to a cycle of bullying because many victims respond to aggression with aggression of their own, also called “reactional bullying.”
Two graduate student presenters also showed us how cyber bullying is taking effect on the different platforms of social media. Anyone can simply make a fake account on Facebook under someone elses name and post up embarrassing pictures to instigate mean commentors. Formspring has become the biggest platform for cyber bullying. The site allows anyone to post anything and to remain anonymous. Many sites like these have user agreements that states that they would not be liable for any form of cyber bullying done on their network. There are very little laws out there that can make them responsible and I believe that’s a huge problem.
In my opinion, it is true that kids should learn about cyber bullying and bullying in general starting when they’re young. Parents should have some sort of parental control over how their children is using the internet. Young kids below the age of 14 should be monitored as to what type of content they’re putting online and parents should communicate better with them so they’re more willing to open up if they have encountered any form of bullying. The internet can be a scary place if utilized incorrectly.