by Mike Masnick

Cyberbullying Still An Issue... But Now It's Teachers Who Are Complaining

from the so-what-do-you-do? dept

For years and years we keep hearing stories about the rise of "cyberbullying" which allows kids to taunt other kids beyond school walls through the internet and mobile phones. It's really just an extension of traditional bullying, but it has all sorts of people freaked out insisting that something must be done... and quickly. The problem is that no one knows how to actually stop bullying, cyber- or otherwise, so anything "done" to stop it may feel good, but is likely to be ineffective. Even the brilliant idea of having some guy dressed in a Spiderman suit tell kids to stop cyberbullying wasn't very effective (who would've thought?). With a slight twist on this, teachers in the UK are complaining again that "something must be done," but they're not complaining about kids cyberbullying other kids... but kids cyberbullying teachers. Of course, again, it's a situation where nothing really can be done, despite claims from the government that something will be done. Meanwhile, in a similar case, Keele University has simply ordered its students not to make fun of professors on Facebook or other social networks. It seems unlikely that this will work. In fact, as with "trolling" behavior, it seems likely that this will just make the bullies even more persistent, since they know their attacks are having an impact. Obviously, being the target of bullies is no fun, but there really isn't a magic bullet to stop such activities no matter how much people wish it were so.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    ocdude, May 23rd, 2007 @ 3:27am

    This has been happening all along

    See, much of the thing with cyberbullying, whether it is students or teachers, is that it has been happening all along. The problem is that now instead of being kept at school (in the event of students) or a group of friends (in the case of instructors), it is now being broadcast online for all to see. While I still think people are making way too much of this, the reality still stands that people are being made fun of or taunted outside of the "normal" constrains of people who know them and being criticised or slandered online, for the world to see.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    IronChef, May 23rd, 2007 @ 4:22am

    Re: This has been happening all along

    I don't know ocdude.. I think feedback of any kind is good. If all you want to hear is how blue the sky is, then tune it out and get involved with a different socioeconomic group. To the teachers and professors, who are hurt, may I suggest Opera or Theater..? The root of bullying- cyber or otherwise is the goal to make someone feel offended.

    But why should Teachers care what others think? I’m sorry to burst their bubble but quite frankly, I won't allow anyone to have that kind of power over me. Offended? Hah! Where does it say I am guaranteed a life without feeling offended? It's not in the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights. I'm tired of judges and congress thinking they can legislate this "feeling offended". People need to grow a backbone and quit looking through the rose-colored glasses.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2007 @ 4:35am

    Here is a brilliant idea!!

    Parents should be more involved and teach their kids manners!

    what ever happened to 'if you have nothing nice to say don't say it at all'????????

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    mikie, May 23rd, 2007 @ 5:13am

    Re: Here is a brilliant idea!!

    "what ever happened to 'if you have nothing nice to say don't say it at all'????????"

    so ... if I am a horrible teacher (yes, there are those) then no-one should say anything about my teaching because there is nothing nice to say????

    what a simplistic idea of the world you have .... how old are you? 3?

    IronChef's second paragraph summarizes my thoughts better than I could .... thanks ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2007 @ 5:13am

    Have you met most of the parents out there?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Cixelsid, May 23rd, 2007 @ 5:16am

    Bullies are a public service

    Bullies provide a valuable service to the community by teaching people from a young age not to give a fuck what other people think or say. That, and to punch someone in the balls if he persists in annoying you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Howard Plumley, May 23rd, 2007 @ 5:33am

    Bullies - Cyber or live - should suffer

    Bullying can be stopped, but only at an early age. Pain management works best. Directly applied to the posterior of the bully. Of course you then find they learned it at home. Most bullies have even worse parents.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    anonymous bastard, May 23rd, 2007 @ 5:39am

    Re: Bullies are a public service

    hell yes. this one comment is the smartest thing i've read on techdirt all day.

    thank you cixelsid

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Stute, May 23rd, 2007 @ 6:37am


    Grow a pair and move on people, WORDS DO NOT HURT!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), May 23rd, 2007 @ 6:48am

    anti-bullying laws

    The state legislature, recently taken over by Dems, in Iowa passed anti-bullying legislation. Media ate it up as a huge victory for civil rights. Of course, the legislation offers no actual solutions. Read a little more into it and it basically says that public schools need to draft and adopt an anti-bullying policy on their own. So they burden the public school system without throwing them any additional funds to implement a policy that can't even be enforced effectively. Politicians are idiots! Cixelsid is correct, bullies are a part of life.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Bob Sadler, May 23rd, 2007 @ 7:04am

    R E S P E C T

    There is only ONE way to fix the problem of BULLYING, whether done in cyberspace or in person, and that's to teach our children to RESPECT other people.

    The problem is that a LOT of Parents believe it's the schools responsibility to teach their children morals; IT'S NOT! Parents are the only people that can teach their children to respect others, not only in what we tell our children, but also in how we treat others! Children don't learn just because we SAY something to them, they learn by hearing what we say and watching US put it in practice.

    As for you that argue, "Shouldn't a teacher be called on the carpet if they are a bad teacher?", the answer is YES, but you can "call someone on the carpet" without becoming derogatory or abusive. This isn't about "calling people onto the carpet", this is about HOW we treat others when we do "call them on the carpet".

    Parents, it's time to understand YOU have to teach your children the morals you want them to have. It's not for the school, the teacher, the adiministration, the summer camp, etc., it's YOUR JOB.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    PaulWill, May 23rd, 2007 @ 7:19am

    Student Voice

    I think your missing the point that these social technologies are getting to the heart of students issues and problems.

    The students have found a voice and are using it. All though often in an ill-informed manner.

    Now if we could only channel the feedback back into the schools we might actually find a positive outcome from these situations.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2007 @ 7:44am

    I love it, all the people sticking their fingers in their ears, going 'la la la', saying nothing can be done, ignore it, and so on. How lazy. How sad. So nothing is working now? They haven't found a cure for cancer yet but they keep going.

    I guess that technologically inclined are so lacking in social skills they can't see where bullying is a problem. For the rest of us out there, it is something that needs to be dealt with -- not everyone wants to sit in their parent's basement all day hiding from the world.

    Interestingly too, most 'cyberbullies' that I've actually seen in person are the sort that if they dared say such things out in the open, they'd get their ass handed to them. Possibly by my five year old. Yes, that weak.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2007 @ 7:47am

    Anti-Bullying legislation being touted as a civil rights victory. WTF!? If a teacher sucks, and they're sick of being bullied online then let that be a motivator for them to improve their teaching style or get the fuck out of the business. Fuck it anyway the whiny minorities are taking over this country, and the bleeding hearts are content letting it happen. Anyone interested in starting an interest group for white Americans, eventually we'll be a minority so if we start an interest group now we'll be ahead of the game. :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    JD, May 23rd, 2007 @ 8:02am

    Bullying Persists

    I agree with everyone saying that the parents are responsible for teaching their kids manners and morals. But, how many of the parents that need to do the teaching spend their time trolling through articles on Techdirt?

    I was going to suggest that the people that would spend time on sites like these were of a somewhat higher intelligence that already knew better until I read post #13 who says that the technologically inclined are lacking in social skills and hide in their parents basements.

    The point is, No matter what happens there will always be bullies, for many of you that remember high school someone was always picking on someone else, and because those people were getting picked on they began picking on other people, it's a vicious circle that continues on and on.

    If the professors don't like being bullied, then they should stick up for themselves, I must admit I am having a hard time wrapping my head around the concept of being bullied "online" where anonymity can play a key factor in escaping from the real world for a little bit.

    It is a far different issue than in highschool, or other physically present sites where to solve the problem with bullies you just beat the crap out of the bully, or started a fight with the bully everyday and consequently got the crap beat out of you, but they eventually got bored with picking on you and stopped all together.

    What exactly constitutes Cyber Bullying though? Someone writes on your facebook wall that you're a geek? Or that you're a shitty teacher? Delete the comment, block/ignore the user, and move on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    zaneZEROZERO, May 23rd, 2007 @ 8:23am

    Re: Wahhhhhbulance

    Wahhhhhbulance FTW.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Maxillarypun, May 23rd, 2007 @ 8:51am

    Actual Bullying or Death Threats?

    Maybe it's my age, but it seems that someone telling me I suck, especially someone saying it behind my back or anonymously, just doesn't affect me, good or bad. I mean, if I DO suck, please tell me how and if you have some suggestions as to how to do better, I would appreciate it. If you're just ranting and raving about me, have at it. Just don't cross the line into threatening me. There is a BIG difference between cussing me out and threatening me.

    I know I try to teach my kids to evaluate what people say to and about them and make good decisions on whether we need to pay attention to those people or just ignore them.

    Well, those are my two cents

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, May 23rd, 2007 @ 8:57am

    There is a difference between construcctive criticism of a lecturer (necessary), making fun of him (acceptable, within limits), and hunting someone down online and harrasing themwith trollish behavior from an army of sock puppets (definitely not on). If I were to criticise a lecturer on the performance evaluation survey, that is a good thing (unless I were just doing it out of malice), and making fun of a lecturer's accent, catchphrases, or mannerisms can be a bit of harmless fun.

    An anti-bullying policy for a school is simple: write down the procedure which they already follow for resolving bullying, and then re-phase it into the latest fashionable leftist crap adn stuff it full of euphemisms ("undergo a supported trasfer to anotehr school campus" for "expelled", for example)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Poster, May 23rd, 2007 @ 9:00am

    A Simple Solution for Parents

    "Have you ever tried turning off the TV, sitting down with your kids, and hitting them?" -- Bender, Futurama

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2007 @ 9:42am

    Re: Re: This has been happening all along

    Laws though do define terms under which you can sue for libel. People feel free to say things online that they would not say to someones face - they just dont seem to accept that they can also pay consequences for what they say online.

    The need to address online behavior is going to result in more laws that ultimately restrict what we do online.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2007 @ 9:44am

    Re: R E S P E C T

    I completely agree with you Bob. I think the inevitable result though of uncontrolled bad behavior is going to be more civil lawsuits. Kids who defame teachers online will find their parents recipients of lawsuits. Law is a poor substitute for morality.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2007 @ 10:07am

    Adolescent people slamming an Educator is nothing new but, historically was not done in public forums for thousands of people to hear.

    Consider the source. These are children who need to be told to tie their shoes, put their hats on straight and pull their pants up so we don't have to see their underwear. These little humanoids opinions are not based on logic or a respectable amount of experience. They may have moments (some more than others) when they appear to be very mature, but overall, those responsible for publically & visciously slamming their instructors in a blog don't fall in this group. These deviant miscretes need time to grow up and outgrow their juvenile antics. It's these kiddo's who we need to monitor and regulate their activities closely so we can teach them how to act in public.

    We need laws governing juvenile behavior on the internet in particular. Holding the parents liable for their childrens actions.

    AOL does a decent job of suspending a user who violates their terms of use on the AOL blogs. Craigslist does a fairly good job of deleting posts that are reported to violate their terms of use. More mechanisms like this would help shut down trolls and other useless posts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Missy431, May 23rd, 2007 @ 11:06am

    can't escape from cyberbullying

    I agree with the other posters that it is the parents responsibility to teach their children what is right and what is wrong. It is also their job to teach their children about internet safety. It is really sad that young children are victims over the web.
    I read this on the NetSmartz411 site - "According to one victim, the difference between being bullied at school and being bullied on the Internet is that you cannot get away from it. Cyberbullying follows you, even after you get home from school." - That is so sad. Kids should not have to go through this!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Bill Roberts, May 23rd, 2007 @ 11:47am

    What's the problem again?

    We already have laws against Libel, Slander, and Assault. Is there something occurring that falls outside of these laws that needs addressing? Does non-slanderous name calling need to be prohibited by law?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    IronChef, May 23rd, 2007 @ 12:09pm


    I guess we forget that old addage of what doesn't kill you just makes you stronger.

    I truly believe the bullying fed my desire to rise above my peers. I'm sad to see and learn how many of my old peers haven't really amounted to much, almost to the point where I wish someone picked on them! Anyone can settle for mediocrity, but to rise above, we need someone to compare against.

    Understand, I'm under 30, and earlier this week offered a huge career opportunity, making 160k/yr at one of the top 10 companies in the US. I paid off college loans 2 years ago, and overall, really looking forward to my ten-year reunion.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2007 @ 12:19pm

    Re: What's the problem again?

    I'm in agreement with Bill on this one.

    If you sue for libel or slander, you have to have a good reputation to begin with.

    However,those that lack accomplishments and accolades, the artifacts that naturally come from a "good reputation" are generally the ones to sue.

    Kind of an interesting concept...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2007 @ 12:22pm

    Re: Re: What's the problem again?

    Simple answer - if your kids are getting bullied, get them involved in sports, scouts, or some afterschool activity.

    Have them make group social bonds. If they are so suseptable to "how others think about me" mentality, they need to get involved in something else.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Brian Harris, May 23rd, 2007 @ 1:50pm

    cry me a river

    bullying, being bullied is part of growing up. deal with it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    skh.pcola, May 24th, 2007 @ 12:32am

    I personally can't wait until the end of summer, so I can begin a coordinated campaign of bad-mouthing a particular bitch of a misandrist professor at my school. To do so before I get my degree would be academic suicide.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. identicon
    midlskoolcrazy, May 24th, 2007 @ 6:44pm

    Re: Bullies are a public service

    Tell this to the parents who have lost children to suicide. Suicide brought on by tormenting, narcissistic cretins like yourself (you are obviously a bully, because only an ignorant bully would feel this way.) Before people open their big mouths, they should consider that not every one hides in front of a computer all day. I have to counsel the tormented, the abused, the hopeless every day and I am sick of people saying that "this is just a part of life." Give me a break. Is prejudice also just a part of life? How about domestic violence? These are just forms of bullying, called something else...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    A concerned citizen of the world, Jun 7th, 2007 @ 6:05am

    Cyber Bullying is Still and Issue... now for teach

    Ironically, society is complaining that people lack respect and caring for their fellow man. When are we going to take back civility and force all people to be accountable for their behaviour? Maybe when the slandering student decides to vandalize your home, will some of you who believe in freedom of speech and "grow a back bone" finally develop some common sense. Learning to respect others is a lost expectation. Kids don't respect their parents, spouses don't respect each other, people don't respect the police or government. This lack of respect and self centered attitudes will be the demise of civilization.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. identicon
    Nova Goldenseal, Jun 7th, 2007 @ 8:42am

    Cyberbullying is NOT harmless

    Words may harmless, but cyberbullies using social networking sites wreck a careeer is not. Using this method to breed contempt and disrespect and to co-ordinate a vicious unprovoked campaign to undermine a teacher's ability to control classes is appalling and indefencible. My husband is a teacher and has been the victim of cyberbullying, via bebo, by his pupils, which included very defamatory, libellous comments of the worst kind. They also used bebo to coordinate sustained disruptions to his lessons. He was the last to know and by then the senior management at the school had had all the material removed. He was told that the police had advised that it was not worth pursuing the matter legally. The school seemed to want to brush the matter under the carpet and the ringleader only received 5 days suspension as punishment. My husband's confidence was shattered and due to the extreme stress caused he felt that he had no option other than to give his notice in. I only work part-time and therefore don't earn enough to pay the mortgage so if my husband can't find another job we will lose the house. Obviously this was not a decision that was taken lightly. My husband is a Physics teacher in only his second year of teaching and was trained under a Government initiative scheme to recruit teachers to shortage subjects. From all accounts he was very good at his job and incredibly enthusiastic about his subject. There are so many losers in this case: my husband has lost his job; the Government have lost all the money they invested in his training; the school have lost a good physics teacher; the pupils who were not party to the disruption lost by not being able to benefit from those lessons; and we have lost financial security.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. identicon
    i h a t e t e a c h e r s w h o t h i n k t h e i, Jun 24th, 2007 @ 7:09am


    I am a student and right now i am on my second strike, third will have me going to juvi.

    I've said this teacher at my school was a gold class pr*ck and that he was not intimidating at all on a friends bebo page. I attended a meeting with the teacher i offended, Computing studies coordinator, year coordinator, Deputy principal, and Principal.

    I said i was sorry, admitted i was wrong, wrote THREE apologies pouring my heart and soul out because i did not want to see my mother cry anymore and i deleted all the comments, but even that was not enough for them to show me mercy.

    They have taken legal action against me and i could be receiving another strike sending me to juvi. F**king pr*cks i hate teachers especially when they teach about Jesus and forgiveness at the school and they cannot even show any, and im the kind of student that always keeps his mouth shut in class, answers questions, never gives the teacher any sh*t in class and always does homework.

    If your getting abuse then consider it a good thing and as feedback to improve your teaching habits you moron. PFT cyber bullying teachers ? if you think its a concern, when do you turn three years old ? build a bridge and get over it. Honestly, you b*tch go have a cry.

    Oh and Nova Goldenseal, everything happens for a reason, maybe you should really wake the hell up.

    using the word "offended" is like wearing a skirt. So teachers try and think of another way to be an a** hole, if you find that "offensive"..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. identicon
    LMAO, Jun 24th, 2007 @ 7:24am


    True true maybe they realsied that the truth hurts LOL

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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