|Image: Wikimedia Commons|
First, cyber-bullying is a widespread problem. According to StopTechNOBullying.org, “53% of kids admit they have said hurtful things to others online”. Cyber-bullying starts at an early age. In addition, BullyStatistics.org, “over 50% of 4th graders have said something hurtful to someone else online, with almost 70% of 8th graders saying something hurtful to someone else online”. Cyber-bullying is a big problem in today's society, it needs to be criminalized.
Second, cyber-bullying is more serious than traditional bullying. For normal bullying, the bully will usually just go to the same school, or live near the victim, however, with cyber-bullying, the bully could be anywhere. The bully could be anywhere on the other side of the computer screen, anywhere in the world! Not only are the places unlimited, the time is unlimited. Traditional bullying will usually occur during school, or whenever the victims are outside the safety of their homes, but cyber-bullying can happen anytime. According to bullyingstatistics.org, nearly 30 percent of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying. A teenage girl named Tallulah 15, lived in London, England, and he cut herself and posted her self-harm photos on the Internet. She was badly affected by bullied at school, St. Marlyebone Church of England, and on the internet. On a Sunday, Oct. 14 2013, Tallulah was found dead at St. Pancras station after jumping into train tracks and being hit by a train. This is one of the many scenarios in which cyber-bullying has lead to suicides, or suicide attempts. Cyber-bullying is more serious than normal bullying. So by criminalizing cyber-bullying, it could create a safer realm for the victimized and a resting place for bullies.
Lastly, criminalization would be a deterrent and reduce the number of victims. Deterring cyber-bullying should be the primary goal of any proposed solution, especially because the victims of cyberbullying are often children whom society aims to protect. Also, the 70,000,000 kids who have cyber-bullied would probably not cyber-bully again, and if they did, then the victims have a method to stop the bullying-criminalization. The youth that have cyber-bullied will not want to take that risk of getting arrested because it is criminalized, and those that continue to cyber-bully will indeed, be punished. Think of it this way, if you were caught stealing a video game, what would you do if your only punishment was a firm warning and "Don't do it again." You would probably steal again, right? Now, what if you were caught stealing, and this time, you were sent to jail? That would make a much bigger impact. The same is true for cyber-bullying as well. If it were highly recognized as a crime, then it could provide more safety for victims and larger consequences to the bullies who are still willing to take the risk of cyber-bullying in the future.
However, in other ways, criminalizing cyber-bullying could be very ineffective. The bullying will move to other spheres of communication or even continue illegally if cyber-bullying were to be criminalized, only showing the ineffectuality of the hypothetical statute. They advocate the idea of educational programs aimed at providing children with the knowledge they need regarding safe practices online. They conclude by saying that constitutionally, many issues arise concerning frees speech rights and that a broad look at the problem, ignoring the tools of communication involved, should be taken into perspective. In essence, Murphy and Macleod-Ball assert that the criminalization of cyber-bullying would be contradictory to the constitution and ineffective in deterring the bullying itself.
Cyber-bullying is a serious problem. Criminalization, or the legislation to make, in this case, cyber-bullying illegal, is needed to stop this major problem. Cyber-bullying should be criminalized because it is a widespread problem, is more serious than normal bullying, and criminalization could possibly make the bullies more hesitant to committing a cyber-bullying crime. The world is already facing problems, why ignore the chance of a solution?
Reflection (6 March 2014)
This whole year was about learning about your digital footprint and how to obtain a good understanding on what it means to be a digital citizen. The idea of digital citizenship applies to how you would act in person. Some points in digital citizenship that pertain to non-bullying include: treating others how you want to be treated, expressing your opinion in a constructive and positive way, and accepting others. In my project, my topic was about cyber-bullying and if by criminalizing it, it will help prevent further, serious cases in the future. I learned a lot about different opinions about the idea of criminalizing it. There were a lot of thoughtful comments, and I really appreciate the thoughtfulness you all put into the comments. A lot of people helped support my argument, but some were able to pose good questions to help me further my thoughts about cyber-bullying. There were many arguments refuting mine saying that education, instead of criminalizing, would be a better solution. In my opinion, I think any way is rational as long as there is awareness of the actual bullying case itself. I think any of those consequences are adequate, but none of the cases (big or small cases) should be thought of as less than they are. Bullies must know the consequences and how serious this type of cyber-harassment is. Overall, this was a very eye-opening experience for me to gain knowledge about this very serious topic. Thank you to everyone who commented and took part in my discussion!