Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How Should Cyberbullies be held accountable?

Courtesy of Wikimedia
As Katherine Jenkins, a well renowned singer once said, “Children should be able to live a life free from bullying and harassment and it is time that we took a stand against this.” Cyberbullying is a certain type of bullying that occurs over the Internet. It can devastate the lives to those who are the victims. However, bullies usually return to their daily lives with no punishment and no accountability of any wrong doing. I personally believe that bullies should be punished for their actions. In many cases, bullies have caused children to kill, hurt, and torment themselves and others. I personally think cyberbullying is the worst kind of bullying, because messages, tweets, etc... can be seen by anyone and create a bad reputation for the victim not only inside school, but outside as well. Bullies should be accountable for their actions.

Cyberbullying represents 52% of the 85% of kids that are bullied in school. This is an enormous amount of children being hurt and degraded. Everyday there are students being targeted online. I was surprised to find that Washington, the state I live in, had the fifth highest level of bullying. Most people don’t pay attention to cyberbullying until it reaches extremes and stories on the news are shown about people committing suicide. This is a topic that we need to pay attention to and as a country need to change. We as a country may feel bad about the dead child on the news, however I don’t think people realize that they can make a difference.

One way we can make a difference is punishing the bullies who are responsible for these terrible actions. As a teen, creating awareness about the punishment of cyberbullying would scare most of the students in my school. This would show kids that they should not post hateful words but if they do, there will be consequences. In the Amanda Todd case, eight girls were arrested for criminal harassment in October of 2012. Todd was harassed for cheating with others' boyfriends and flashing her body to boys over the computer screen. Amanda started being bullied in 7th grade and was 15 when she decided enough was enough. She was harassed for three years and during this time the bullies were never punished. I believe it was the correct move to put these bullies in jail after the depression and anxiety they created for Amanda. Bullies who are caught cyber bullying should be arrested or put in a rehabilitation facility. A rehabilitation facility would rehabilitate a bullies state of mind.

Bullies should be punished for their actions because it is cyber harassment. Cyber Harassment and Cyberstalking laws were mainly created to protect citizens, however many citizens are not being protected against cyberbullying. Many states have enacted cyber bullying laws, but I believe all states should enable these. I believe we should make it so bullies have no escape route.

An alternative to punishing the perpetrators of harassment is the idea that the actions of bullies should be blamed on someone else. The top two sources of blame for cyberbullying are Facebook and parents. Facebook is the site to blame because they allow this type of content to occur without consequences. Pranks on facebook have also occurred under their “Recently Dead” page. Bullies have posted the victims name under recently dead and have posted rude comments. I understand freedom of speech is a right, but this type of speech is slander and hate speech. Facebook is an easy place for children to easily target each other with no punishments they may have at school. This site allows bullying that happens at school to be dragged into a student’s home life.

Some kids feel safe when they come home after being bullied at school, however most do not due to social media. One example is the Rebecca Sedwick case. Rebecca Sedwick was the thirteen year old girl from Florida that jumped to her death after being cyberbullied. She was told to “drink bleach and die” online. This cyberbullying had been going on for many years. Rebecca and her family tried to stop the bullying and it only got worse online. The school said that this matter was out of their hands because it does not happen in school, it occurs over the internet. After Sedwick committed suicide bullies were arrested on charges of harassment, but soon after released. These kids should have been left in jail and held accountable for their actions. Facebook is the most commonly used social media forum, and bad things can happen there. What is the role of parents in these instances? Are they to blame?

Many people believe parents should be held responsible for what their children do and say. They also need to be held accountable for punishing their kids for unacceptable actions. When a child cyberbullies another it is strictly the parents fault. I believe it is not the parents’ fault for a child’s actions, but the bully themselves. This shows that bullies should be held accountable for their actions, no matter what. Regardless of a bully’s age, they should be held accountable for their actions. As a country we can take a stand to stop cyberbullying and bullying in general. People may make mistakes, but these bullies were warned more than once to stop and they did not listen. Recently, an app for kindness has been created that could transform you into a better and more genuine you. You can also join many efforts already created to stop bullying. Another alternative is to stop the bullying when you see it and don't just stand by. Change can start with you. As I ninth grader this was a touchy subject to talk about, but it should be addressed because it plays an important role in our lives, even though we may not realize it. I leave you with the question of: Should bullies be punished for cyberbullying online, and is jail the answer?

Reflection (March 6, 2014)
Cyber bullies should be held accountable for their actions. Cyber bullies relates to digital citizenship because they are display examples of  poor online behavior. The concept of digital citizenship is the same concept as you would show face to face. Three of the major ideas in digital citizenship that relate to non- bullying is showing kindness, accepting other opinions and expressing your opinions as long as they are not hurting anyone. I appreciated everyone who has commented on my blog so far and anyone that may comment in the future. I love to hear others opinions and think deeply about how their opinions could cause a positive or negative affect on this topic of bullying. Many posts restated my thesis and helped support my main ideas. Many of the people who commented believe that bullies should be punished if they caused a suicide, which was one of my large points.  I was very thankful that the people who posted were very thoughtful and displayed great digital citizenship. The comments also made me dig back into my research and look deeper at the details. I did some further research and found that cyber bullying is also classified as cyber harassment. Researching and writing about this topic was very emotional. I read and watched videos about many bully suicide cases. I struggled and cried watching the Amanda Todd video. There were also a number of videos about how Amanda Todd caused bullying to happen to her. Overall, many response videos were sick and heartless. This really compelled me to make a strong argument about how cyber bullies should be punished. I want to thank everyone who contributed to the comments on my blog!




15 comments:

  1. Very well said! Bullies need to be punished by the hurt they caused these poor kids. They need to know how much pain that they caused the child and the family. There is no reason to bully. I think they do it because they have personal issues that make them mad inside so they take there anger out on someone else.

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    1. Hi Megan, thank you for commenting! I enjoyed reading your comment and your opinions about my post! I fully agree with you, bullies do need to know the pain they cause. I also agree that bullies bully because they have personal issues, but I also believe there are more reasons that people bully others. To look deeper into this topic I would encourage you to read this article (http://www.lebanonct.org/district/lms/support_services/nasp/bullying.html). Thanks again for commenting. I really appreciate it!
      - Tennis123

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  2. Hello Tennis123,
    Your article has really moved me about how cyber bulling can be a huge problem for anyone in the world. I agree with you about how cyber bullies should be held accountable for their actions online. But I believe that they shouldn't all be arrested. It should depend on how much they bullied a victim. If they do it till the victim hurts another or himself, then the bully should be arrested. My question for you is: Is cyber bullying something that can be stopped by parents or is it just the kid himself who needs to be stopped?

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    2. Hi LamRedRanger,
      Thank you for commenting. I believe that parents can contribute to trying to stop the bully, however I believe it boils down to the bully themselves. In many cases, people blames social media sites and the parents for bullying. It is not the social media site and it is not the parents doing the bullying, it is the bully themselves! I would encourage you to read this article: http://nobullying.com/can-you-blame-facebook-for-cyberbullying/. Thanks again for commenting.
      - Tennis123

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  3. Tennis123, I know you have invested so much of yourself in this research, thank you! This is such an important topic for us to talk about, for the sake of all kids, bullies and victims alike. You are right that we don't seem to pay enough attention until it's too late. The suicide stories get media coverage, but there must have been small incidents and behaviors all along the way where early intervention could have helped. We definitely need to be doing more to reach out to all kids. People tend to want an "easy fix" or someone/something to blame. This is exactly why, after teaching about this for so many years (to both parents and kids) I tell them that at its core, this isn't about technology at all. It's about the kind of people we want to be. We all could use some help making better, kinder choices, but we should certainly be held accountable for our mistakes. I'm really proud of you for taking this on.

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    1. Hi Mrs. Gerla,
      Thank you for the wonderful comment. It was much appreciated. I agree with you fully, that we blame other people rather than the source themselves. I loved this class and I am hoping other kids in the future will learn and take this course to heart as I did. I would encourage you to read this article: http://nobullying.com/can-you-blame-facebook-for-cyberbullying/. This article talk about blaming Facebook. My questions to you is: Why would we blame social media sites when they are not the one's writing hurtful messages?

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  4. Hello Tennis123, I think you did a very good job supporting your thesis throughout the post and adding your opinion throughout as well! I also believe that cyerbullying is the worst kind of bullying because it is never gone. Do you think that if a child is being bullied outside of school and the child tells a teacher, do you think that it is the parents responsibility or the schools? I know many cases like this where the school doesn't do anything because it happens outside of school and I do not support that decision. Very good job! -BeepMeep

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    1. Hi BeepMeep,
      Thank you for commenting! I appreciate the thought you put into your comment. I think that if a child is being bullied outside school and the bully and the victim go to the same school it is the school responsibility as well as the parents. I would agree with you that it is wrong for the schools to do nothing when the bullying that is happening outside has been brought to the school. I would encourage you to read more about this: http://www.popcenter.org/problems/bullying/. Thanks again for commenting.
      - Tennis123

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  5. Tennis123, here's a different approach to consider! Read Kill 'Em With Kindness, which highlights a high school senior's thoughts on the topic of cyberbullying. "I honestly think that punishing a bully doesn’t fix the problem," he says. So he has a challenge for all of us! It's an interesting perspective.

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    1. Hi Mrs.Gerla,
      Thank you for sharing this with me. This was definitely an interesting take on cyber bullying. Killing with kindness may work for a period of the time, but bullies do not give up that easily and are definitely ruthless. This was a very interesting article! Thank you for sharing it with me!
      - Tennis123

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  6. Hey Tennis123, your post was well-written and makes good points about a topic that needs to be addressed, although I'm not entirely sure that jail is the right response to cyberbullying. I believe that if we can educate children as to the damage cyberbullying can cause and teach them not to do it, we can reduce cyberbullying greatly without throwing large numbers of teenagers in jail.
    Thanks
    Rumpusatthedisco

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    1. Hi Rumpusatthedisco,
      Thank you for your comment. I understand that jail may be a harsh punishment for cyber bullying and bullying in general. Many schools educated about non- bullying. No bully will ever listen!!! Let's be real. Educating kids has not worked! There are still relentless bullies out in the world and they won't stop bullying until the victim they bully is destroyed. Thank you for your comment, it was very thoughtful, but I do not believe your opinion was the correct approach to cyber bullying.
      - Tennis123
      - Tennis123

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    2. If we're talking about teenagers here, most likely they would end up in juvenile detention rather than a full-fledged prison. Could there be a rehabilitation facility that addresses online cruelty? I'm starting to wonder if maybe we need to more clearly define cyberbullying. I feel like Tennis123 may only be referring to the stories that result in a child taking his/her own life, which may warrant some criminal charge, not every instance of bullying or online cruelty. As a teacher, I obviously have a bias that education is a better answer, but I do understand the desire to punish someone who has caused so much damage and pain, especially in cases where someone has died as a result. I wonder what parents in those cases would favor? Check out Stand for the Silent, an organization founded in the wake of Ty Smalley's suicide. Ty's parents now speak all over the country to raise awareness and help prevent future tragedies. It's pretty inspiring.

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  7. More news on this front, Tennis123! In the wake of Rebecca Sedwick's suicide, the state of Florida is considering a bill that would criminalize online bullying. However, many critics raise the concern that zero tolerance policies unfairly target racial minorities and LGBT youth. "Saddling kids with arrests, suspensions, and particularly juvenile detention for misbehavior has found to only exacerbate later behavior, and increase the likelihood that they will later commit other crimes." While this article offers some good points on what's wrong with the prison-route, namely that it is ineffective and applied unfairly, it does NOT offer an alternate solution. Sounds like we know what doesn't work, but no one has really found a solution for what does. I'll keep my eye on this story!

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