Posts Tagged ‘bullying’

Another week, and yet another social media app has parents, school officials, and others concerned about its potential to facilitate cyber-bullying. Yik Yak is an app that lets people broadcast information to other users in their geographic area based on the GPS settings of the device being used. According to the Yik Yak site, users can:

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In other words, it’s like an amplifier that anonymously broadcasts your text messages to hundreds of people within a 5 mile radius around you in real time. Sounds like the perfect cyber-bullying tool to me.

But, never fear, the app’s creators forbid transmission of “any pornographic, obscene, offensive, threatening, harassing, libelous, hate-oriented, harmful, defamatory, racist, illegal, or otherwise objectionable material or content.” And, I’m certain everyone will abide by those terms.

The creators are also careful to point out that they are not responsible for material transmitted via their service:

Yik Yak, LLC is in no way responsible for user-generated content. Content posted on this app is subject to:

  • 1st Amendment: Freedom/Anonymity of speech is protected under the 1st Amendment
  • Communications Decency Act: “Operators of Internet services are not to be construed as publishers and thus not legally liable for the words of third parties who use their services”

I’m all for free speech, of course, but I’m also concerned that this particular app creates yet another vector for people to transmit harmful information about others in a way that completely skirts personal responsibility. One school in Missouri is already contending with the fallout from this particular app.

App creates cyber bullying concerns in Johnson County

What are your thoughts? Does this app go too far? What are parents doing to address this and prevent Yik Yak from being used as yet another tool to bully children?

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Cyber-bullies come in all shapes and sizes, including, as it turns out, parents. This past week, someone posted the below photo (which was anonymized for this post) to a social media site that shows a child holding a handwritten sign about having to sell her iPod and donate the proceeds to a bullying organization.

There wasn’t much further explanation, other than the caption: “Mom catches daughter cyber-bullying,” but the obvious conclusion is that this was punishment, meted out by a parent, for the child’s bullying of someone else.

Bullying blur

Predictably, comments by those who viewed the picture ran the gamut, from constructive feedback to out and out trolling. Here are some examples:

How to teach your kid to not be a cyber bully: post a judgmental photo of her on the internet so people can see how bad she is.

It’s not like she regrets it, the only reason this is happening is because she got caught.

Children are little people; monstrous but small. They must be taught empathy to be socialized. Sometimes that’s through poetic justice.

Somehow I’m not convinced that she’s really kind or caring person.

Humiliating your child to teach her not to humiliate other children? Gee, I wonder where she gets it!

I hesitate to criticize a parent for doing what she thinks is best when it comes to disciplining her own child but, in my opinion, publicly shaming someone in this way goes beyond parenting and strays into its own unique form of cyber-bullying.

And, the consequences of bullying run deep. Psychological, physical, emotional, academic, and other consequences can result. Research even shows that both bullies and bullied children are more likely to engage in violence later in life.

So, there’s every reason to stop children from bullying one another. But, bullying your child to teach them not to bully is setting that child up for failure and even more problems down the line.

Have a safe weekend.

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A couple of news items caught my eye this week on the topic of bullying and the broad, long-term consequences it can have on those who experience it. First up is a video of a violent incident on a school bus that was released this week. It appears to show a group of three children savagely beating another child on the bus, all while the driver makes only minimal efforts to intervene.

Media story of assault against student on a Florida school bus

Like any other social issue, pundits have long lined up to debate the causes, forms, and effects of bullying – often from diametrically opposed perspectives. Some claim it’s just “kid stuff” and to be expected, while others cite it as the basis for more serious violence, such as  school shootings.

The result? A lot of confusion.

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I usually try to end the week on a positive note, but I read this week about a young woman named Rehtaeh Parsons who committed suicide recently in Canada. Her parents alleged that the 17-year-old had been raped by four  boys, one of whom took a sexually explicit photo of her during the alleged attack. The photo was circulated around her school, which lead to sexual bullying, depression, and ultimately Rehtaeh’s decision to end her own life.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) initially investigated the sexual assault for a year, but concluded there was not enough evidence to pursue charges and then shelved the case. Public outrage, including a video posted by the group Anonymous, appears to have resulted in the RCMP reopening the investigation. I sincerely hope that justice is served and that those responsible for the assault are identified, charged, and convicted.

Rehtaeh Parsons’ death is tragic not only because of her personal pain and the impact that’s had on those who knew and loved her, but also because it represents a terrible failing within society as well. Call it projection, reaction formation, shadow, or whatever psychological term you wish, sexual bullying is an attempt to objectify an individual as possessing some quality that others cannot accept about themselves.

That the poor sexual and mental health of the masses gets turned against any one individual is hard to take. If you, your child, or someone you care about is suffering from bullying of any kind, including sexual bullying, there are resources that can help.

My heartfelt condolences to Rehtaeh and her family and friends. I hope you find justice and peace.

Update: On April 16th, a Canadian news outlet published a story regarding several of Rehtaeh’s friends who were allegedly attacked in March of this year by at least one of the individuals suspected of sexually assaulting Rehtaeh.  One boy was reportedly stabbed during the alleged incident. Others were sprayed with “an irritant.”

The story also raises questions as to whether the investigation was stymied by these types of intimidation tactics.