Cyber-bullying: School-yard harassment enters the home

By Shannon Byrne
Special Features Editor

In today’s world, kids spend most of their day on the internet. With this new frontier, the internet, new areas of bullying have come to light; cyber-bullying to be more specific.

Before the internet, kids could escape and feel safe at home. Now, kids don’t have that luxury. Social media is destroying the safe haven that is supposed to be a child’s home. Now, because of these new bullying outlets they are open to harassment anywhere and at any time.

Cyber-bullying, according to the Social Times is “when someone is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed, or otherwise targeted by someone using the internet…”

The convenience of social media allows anyone, anyplace to chime in from the safety of their homes and screen names. With this newfound anonymity it is no wonder that cyber-bullying is quickly on the rise.

It is no secret that kids can be cruel. Social media acts as a safety zone for those cowards that hide behind their computer screens while inflicting hurtful words that wouldn’t ordinarily be spoken face to face.

According to a cyber-bullying research summary by Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D. and Justin W. Patchin, Ph.D. “Cyber-bullying victims were almost twice as likely to have attempted suicide compared to youth who had not experienced cyber-bullying.”

These teen suicide stories are all too real and tangible for many people. It is unfortunate when someone takes his or her own life, but especially unfortunate when it is the fault of their peers and could have easily been prevented.

Unfortunately, for those children who succumb to such a fate, simply being mean, sadly, is not a crime.
However, it could be construed as a malicious hate crime. Hate crimes violate free speech protection under the constitution by impinging on other people’s rights and could carry very heavy penalties.

Preventing cyber-bullying is easier than you think. The obvious step to take would be to get rid of all social media accounts. However, since social media is essential to most kids to communicate that may not be the best option.

The best option when attempting to solve a bullying issue is to save the threatening messages and contact an adult who can help the situation de-escalate.