People are naturally social creatures. We learn to interact with others right from the womb, but the path in which we are taught to treat people can often lead down different courses, resulting in actions that lie on fine lines. Just like we are taught early on to love and respect one another, children also pick up seemingly violent behavior. Whether it is from television, video games, or the like, violence is often encouraged at an early age.
This violence that is presented in forms of entertainment can carry into the realities of the youth. It is safe to say that bullying has always been around. It seems like there will always be a bully that will pick on the weak, whether it be from insecurities, troubles at home, or for whatever reason. Can bullying be looked at a survival of the fittest coping technique of the schoolyard?
Furthermore, since the birth of the internet, bullying has evolved. Cyber bullying can often be more dangerous than traditional interpersonal communication. What starts in the halls of schools, often carries its way home with kids like a bad case of school lice. Leech-like personas are formed online, most the time anonymously, where these bully begin to suck and drain their victims. We have begun to see this tragic trend of children (as young as 10-years-old) take their own lives because they can no longer deal with the pain of the mental abuse and harassment.
Holli Kenley, family therapist and author of “Cyber bully No More:Parenting A High Tech Generation,” told Sex and Politics radio show that to prevent cyber bullying, the parent needs to take proactive role. Children and teens should be monitored in terms of their access to the internet, cell phones and social media sites.
“From the research that we have, we have 160,000 students staying home from school each day from traditional bullying,” Kenley stated. That’s 3 million per month. In the cyber world, Kenley believes that one in four youths are cyber bullied.
Cyber victims are reluctant to report because they don’t think anyone will believe them, or if they do speak up, they think nothing can be done. They also think that retaliation will occur, especially from the cyber world.
“If we look at other social issues, whether it be drugs or alcohol, or whatever social issue is that is challenging the youth at that time….(the school) they aren’t able to handle this problem themselves,” said Kenley.
Experts are beginning to think that cyber bullying is becoming an almost normal aspect of communication and often infectious, whereas many young people are thinking since everyone else is doing it, I should too. Forms of cyber bullying include: inclusion, trickery, and outing.
But communities, the youth, schools and parents all play a crucial role in shaping the future generation. Kenley believes that prevention cannot begin until we examine causation. Strong family bonds with open communication should be formed so that victims won’t be afraid to speak up.
Although the internet is a powerful tool, but it can often cause moral disengagement. There should be no reason for a child to take their own lives before they have had the chance to even live them. Just like a parent should want to know who their child’s “real” friends are, they should also be familiar with virtual friends.
Should bullies be harshly punished for such crimes? Do these people even feel any remorse for pushing pain so deep into their victims that they think the only way they can escape it and end it is to end their lives? Teaching our youth to love and respect each other is so important with shaping their character. We should not encourage violence and teach children to accept people for who they are- flaws and all.
Cyber bullying should be taken seriously. When parents hand over technology, they need to teach their children that privileges comes with responsibility.