Is Cyber-Bullying A Crime?

from the how-is-the-internet-different-from-a-bathroom-wall? dept

A good article over at Salon looking at the various recent cases of cyber bullying where school officials tend to overreact. They point out that a lot of what’s happening online is no different in reality than scribblings on the bathroom wall, except that they’re not even on school property. Yet schools jump the gun and call the police in on a lot of these cases. Mostly, it seems as though school officials just don’t understand the internet. Of course, some of these cases go beyond standard bullying, and the article points out that students certainly can (and perhaps should) sue for libel – but, the schools themselves should have no part in the lawsuit (or in punishing the students).

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Comments on “Is Cyber-Bullying A Crime?”

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unknown (user link) says:

your mean

i was a viteim of a cyber bully he hurt me bad he made me fall inlove with him in just dised me for this girl he just changed when he met her mean towords me saying hurtful things it upset me then hes made up a romour that said i was ugly and had his friends laugh at me in the room,i hate him for it all i did for him plus he got a freind to haras me he said he wouldn’t wanna she me i was so glad when i finally proved i was a hot beautiful girl i know im not ugly but i would be mad if ppl thinked it i hate him.he used to tease me saying she was better then me her body looked good in i didn’t when i come in the room mad they’ll belivee the roumor .some one please repley to me i need your sopurt thanks.

Liam says:

cyber bullying IS a crime.

The Salon article is a good example of the difficulty in balancing young peoples’ safety against adults’ freedoms. Anonymity inherited in many electronic communications not only fosters playful disinhibition but reduces social accountability making it easier for users to engage in hostile, aggressive acts. Forcing people to reveal who they are would stop a lot of intimidation however this route, followed by south korea and china creates different problems. For whistle blowers or those fighting for freedom of expression such as chinese bloggers, anonymity is essential for them to operate at all.

As with traditional bullying, an ecological framework is essential to understand online harassment. This framework builds on the assumption that, since people are embedded in social and environmental contexts, multiple factors invariably contribute to social behavioral patterns. According to this conceptual framework, cyber bullying does not reside solely with the young person exposed to abuse but unfolds in the social context of their family, their peer group, the classroom, the school and the larger community and society as a whole.The victimised child’s inability to defend themselves is integral. Given the belief that protection from abuse is a fundamental human right, others are obliged to intervene.

It may be out of their jurisdiction, but as cyber bullying has a direct impact on students welfare schools have a moral obligation to become involved.

Further, your complete lack of empathy in comparing cyber bullying to “scribblings on a bathroom wall” shows little understanding of the impact of bullying on young people. First and foremost cyber-bullying can take place at any time and can intrude into spaces which have previously been regarded as safe or personal. The fragility of adolescence may result in some blowing issues out of proportion, yet their concerns are real and won’t be solved by being told to ‘get over it’.


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