Online Bullying Really Not That Common

from the moral-panics dept

To hear some people tell it, "cyber bullying" is some huge and awful problem where "something" needs to be done. It's a classic moral panic situation, but usually seems to involve parents totally overreacting. We've pointed out in the past that kids don't view it as bullying and now some new research from the folks at Pew have pointed out that online bullying and general "meanness" really isn't all that common. Yes, it does happen. And it sucks for those who are the target of such bullying. But that's no reason to overreact and need to pass crazy legislation to wipe out the First Amendment in some quixotic effort to outlaw being mean.
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Filed Under: bullying, online

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  1. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 13 Nov 2011 @ 11:57pm

    Re: Limitations of the referenced research

    I think cruel treatment of other humans is something that we need to address in education and legislation.

    How? This is my problem with it. Does bullying occur? Sure. But is it as big a problem as we keep hearing about? There's almost no evidence I can find to support that.

    My problem is that every single attempt to "educate" or "legislate" around this issue doesn't do anything useful. The simple fact is, some kids are going to be jerks. I'm not saying bullying is okay, but I'm saying it happens, and anti-bullying classes don't help at all. Legislating that it's illegal to be a jerk doesn't help at all.

    It all just seems totally pointless. If and when bullying rises to the level of existing crimes, then use those laws.

    And, no, I'm not trying to minimize the impact on those who have been bullied. But, honestly, I don't think we'd *want* to stop all bullying. Learning how to respond to bullies is an important part of growing up. Can bullies go too far? Yes. But deal with those individual circumstances, rather than this ridiculous effort to paint anyone who's a jerk as a bully and then trying to wipe out all bullying.

    Focus on the extreme cases, which can already be dealt with via existing laws.

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