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Cyberbullying


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#1 dalilavender

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Posted 03 April 2008 - 10:23 AM

I am posting this to raise awareness. I don't think this phenomena is limited to children and young adults. I think people of all ages are subject to this abuse and I want to raise awareness.
This is an article from Macleans Magaizine - a Canadian News and Interest Mag.

Quote

Stalked by a Cyberbully

Michael Snider with Kathryn Borel

AMY BOUCHER learned early how mean kids can be. In elementary school, she was taller than the rest of the girls and that made her an easy target for ridicule.

Often teased and excluded, the Montreal teen would come home and escape into her drawings or play on the computer. So when she discovered a Web site about art where she could chat with others, it gave her a sense of belonging and, more importantly, acceptance.

But all that changed when she got into a spat with another girl on the site over an unanswered e-mail. Amy tried to make up, but the girl rebuffed her attempts, and for the next three years made her the object of an on-line bullying campaign that drove Amy to tears and eventually to depression. A posse of girls would taunt her over e-mail or sign onto the site under her name before launching attacks on other members that she would then be blamed for. "I kept thinking, 'What's wrong with me?'" says Amy, now a chatty 15-year-old. "Why does everybody hate me?"

Bullying, whether it occurs in the schoolyard or on-line, is at its core about power and control. And today, when kids cruise around the Internet the way they do around their neighbourhood, getting slammed on a Web site can be just as bruising as getting slammed against a playground wall. Through e-mail or over cellphones, tormentors can get right into victims' homes, harassing them while their parents sit in the next room. It's called cyberbullying and, for both parents and teachers, it's a growing concern. According to the Media Awareness Network, an Ottawa-based non-profit group that monitors on-line activity, a quarter of young Canadian Internet users report having received material that said hateful things about others. These can be threats, gossip -- or worse. Groups sometimes gang up on one student, bombarding them with "flame" e-mails or infecting their computer with viruses. One jilted boyfriend posted his ex's personal information on porn sites, while a girl who visited Toronto became the subject of a rumour that she had SARS.

"It's so far beyond the passing of notes," says Jan Sippel, coordinator of abuse prevention at the Vancouver School Board. "This bullying gives kids the same feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness as the traditional form."

Cyberbullies' weapons of choice are e-mail, cellphones that can send text messages, and instant-messaging programs that allow users to chat electronically in real time. With IM chat the No. 1 on-line activity among kids, practised by some 60 per cent, it's a natural medium for abuse. Some bullies post slurs on Web sites where kids congregate, or on personal on-line journals, called Weblogs. In a macabre twist on the American Idol craze, sites have emerged where students vote on their school's biggest geek or sluttiest girl. "Who here hates teressa as much as i do," asks a student with the screen name silentgothichell on a site called Schoolscandals2.com. "She is such a f***ing poser who thinks she is so kewl and awesome and pretty and she is DEFFINATLY NOT!" "Yeah," responds Do_a_crazydance. "She's freaken ugly."

Bill Belsey, a father and education consultant in Cochrane, Alta., who runs Web sites about bullying, has studied the growing phenomenon of cyberbullying and says the anonymity of the Internet emboldens the culprits. "When kids feel there aren't consequences for the communications, they take liberties," says Belsey, whose sites, bullying.org and cyberbullying.ca, receive nearly a million hits a month. Kids and parents write in to the sites about their own experiences. "[My daughter] set up a Web site for herself and asked people to sign her guest book," writes one anonymous mother. "A gaggle of girls started signing it, telling my daughter she should just die and that everyone hates her."

Perhaps the most famous victim of cyberbullying is Ghyslain Raza, the 15-year-old boy from Trois-Rivières, Que., who became an unwilling celebrity when a film he made of himself emulating a Star Wars fight scene was posted on the Internet by some classmates. Millions downloaded the two-minute clip and the media dubbed him the "Star Wars kid." He was so humiliated he sought counselling, and his family has launched a lawsuit against his tormentors.

The growing number and severity of cyberbullying incidents are leading educators and the authorities to start taking action. Calgary police recently issued a warning about such electronic activities, pointing out that written death threats are a crime. In Vancouver, a group of Grade 7 girls were caught in a game where they'd vote via instant messaging who should be their next target for ostracism. "We've had quite a number of these incidents," says Sippel of the Vancouver School Board, who has organized about a dozen parent meetings about cyberbullying. But schools are having trouble addressing the issue because much of the abuse occurs outside the classroom. "Bullying is taken very seriously," says Tamara Grealis-Ellam, head of guidance at Toronto's Woburn Collegiate Institute. "But unfortunately, with cyberbullying, you need the student to come forward and tell you."

Part of the problem in combatting cyberbullying, say experts, is that parents and kids relate to technology very differently. Most adults approach computers as practical tools, while for kids the Internet is a lifeline to their peer group. "Cyberbullying is practically subterranean because it lives in the world of young people," says Belsey. "Kids know there is a gap in the understanding of technology between themselves and their parents, and their fear is not only that the parents' response may make the bullying worse, but that the adults will take the technology away."

That was Anne Boucher's first impulse. Amy's mother saw her daughter's depression and urged her to stop going to the art Web site. But Amy still had friends there, people with whom she had been communicating for years. And her drawing was getting really good(one work sold for $300 at an on-line auction). "She'd get up the next morning and she would still be feeling down and then she'd go to the place where she felt comfortable and she'd get attacked again," says Anne. "I kept telling her not to go back, but it was her little community." Amy eventually left the site for awhile, and when she went back, the bullying stopped.

Belsey says that parents, teachers and the police need to meet cyberbullying head-on. And to some degree, that is happening. Belsey has contacted more than 40 schools across the country, asking them to participate in a cyberbullying survey. And at the end of the month, he will speak at a conference for educational administrators. This is just a start, he says, but "people are beginning to understand the genie is out of the bottle."

"If you can cultivate the right attitude, your enemies are your best spiritual teachers because their presence provides you with the opportunity to enhance and develop tolerance, patience and understanding."
-His Holiness the Dalai Lama

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#2 soapaddict

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Posted 03 April 2008 - 01:22 PM

The online kid community is HUGE.... and I totally see how this affects girls more than boys, and for some reason, girls are meaner in general than boys. I think it's a jealousy thing, you never see boys doing this. It's definitely a part of the kids 'culture'.

I don't know why people need to be bullies or bully in turn. I just don't understand why they do it.

#3 lotionlady

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Posted 03 April 2008 - 01:32 PM

I think anonymity is the main problem. People who are basically really unhappy at the core, embrace a personality that allows them to act out all their hostility and anger without being accountable. On "professional" forums, I have often wondered how it would change if people were required to list their business or personal web sites (for example). I guess in forums like Facebook, they do that. I don't know if the problem is as pervasive there.

Lately, I try to use forums that have a zero-tolerance for abusive behavior. Just not into the drama I guess.

I can't imagine how hard it must be for teenagers who are soooo wrapped up in what other people think about them.
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#4 mixingitup

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Posted 03 April 2008 - 06:42 PM

Bullying in general really strikes a bad chord with me.

When I was growing up, we were really, really poor. It was just my mother and me for 5 or 6 years, then grandma moved next door. She helped raise me but she had no money either. We were on welfare when I was a junior and senior in high school. There was enough money in the budget for me to have 1 (yes, one) pair of nylon stockings for the whole month. If I got runs, then I either had to wear them that way or wear socks (a fate worse than death at the time). I never had nice clothes; when I was in high school, my neighbor's 90 yo grandma died and I was thrilled to get her dresses :) In addition, I was short, plump AND wore a size 9 shoe. When I was in 6th grade, my grandmother took me to buy a *good* pair of shoes that would last me for a long time. I know you all have seen those old womens' shoes with the real blocky heels that lace up. That's what I wore as an 11 yo.

I got teased/beaten up/laughed at all through school. I learned to fight early on so no one tried to beat me up more than once, thankfully. School years weren't overly fun for me; and no, I didn't go to the prom. Finally, I grew into my feet and (in youth) I was attractive enough that my self-confidence survived in fine style. :bjump:

I just don't get why people enjoy bullying other people. Most of the forums I'm on now doesn't have much of that; I'm glad because I get pulled into the drama. I cannot sit back and watch, even if I don't have a dog in the fight.

I find men fight different on the net than the women. Women have a tendency to gang up on someone where men tend to go one on one.... which is a lot fairer, imo. Men also seem less afraid to stick up for one another if they feel someone is being wrongly attacked. Women will send supportive pm's but are far more hesitant to step up and openly defend someone.

I think parents really need to keep on their kids to make sure they aren't involved in bullying. I think it's probably pretty easy to get sucked into that mentality when there is peer pressure.
Mixin'

#5 soapaddict

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Posted 03 April 2008 - 07:46 PM

Oh Mixin! That's a tough life! But now I know why you are a strong person, so as bad as it was, the experience has probably helped you throughout your life.

You know, I can relate tho, being Asian in an all white society has not been easy either. I never lived anywhere near other Asians, and despite always wanting some, I never had Asian friends, due to lack of anything in common or distance. I ALWAYS felt like the odd person out, whether someone was racist towards me or not. And I have encountered racism in my life. Not as overt as what black people may have experienced, but racism nonetheless. But then, I AM different.

I guess that's why I don't go for bullying. While I love a good debate, I don't like ganging up on people, or name calling, with very extreme exceptions. I try harder to persuade than to pick on for having a different viewpoint. I am very widely read, but I don't believe everything I read, unless I see it confirmed by multiple opposing venues. We all know that the press can sometimes be manipulative, depending on the agenda of the writer or publisher. Just like life, there's one side, the other side, and the truth. And if I get into a debate, it's generally to show another side not being considered, there's not much debate if everyone agrees with something.

I think the difference is, the way people perceive the other person on the other side of a debate. I am unusual in the sense that I actually APPRECIATE someone who can defend their position rationally (as opposed to making sweeping statements with no basis in facts and no supporting evidence.. I do not respect that). There usually is 2 sides to any position, and a person on the opposite side of my position forces me to rethink and reevaluate my own position. But ganging up on an individual is always unfair.

#6 mixingitup

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 04:28 AM

Well, I probably would have rather have had a nice middle class life with a half-way decent house and clothes. :) The non-school part of growing up was great; I'm not too sure the sucky part was of any real benefit. Living poor is pretty awful but it teaches you how to be frugal, that's for sure.

I was aware of money problems from as far back as I could remember; I never asked for stuff as a kid because I really did know there was no money to buy it. I think part of that came from being an only child; seems like as a kid, I was always treated as a very short adult.

I grew up with black people; our neighborhood was the last one between the white area and the black area. All 3 the schools I attended had black kids so there were never any racial issues for me; besides, we were poorer than most of them so I would have never been one to judge one way or the other. Actually, I think the black girls felt kind of sorry for me. When we played dodge ball in gym class, they usually didn't throw the ball as hard at me as they did the other white girls.

My uncle was a great fisherman and he really enjoyed snaring carp & suckers in the river. During the depression, those fish were a treat and he always took all the extra ones to some of the black families he knew. He never said anything about it but grandma told me a lot of people would have gone without eating if not for his generosity.

As far as a debate, I've learned something from every one I've ever followed. I very much appreciate that you and I can discuss something that we are both extremely passionate about and still remain civil.
Mixin'

#7 jbren

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 08:49 AM

That must have been a tough life for you, Mixin'. It makes me sad to even think about it. I hear stories from my 88 year old Mom all the time about how poor they were...cardboard in their shoes...knocking down potatoes from a street stand into the gutter, then running off and cooking them. How my mom won an art scholarship but wasn't allowed to take it because she had to go to work. I'm sure she was the butt of a lot of nastiness in school just because they were poor. Her parents died when she was very young, and she was raised by an aunt who married a communist.

Children can be so cruel. But I think a lot of it lies in the fact that most children just have too much in this day and age. Some parents (and I use the word loosely) are just not responsible enough for themselves, let alone raising a child. Leave the internet to babysit for them...sure...why not? They are in their own homes most of the time, and it's cheap. :) They just don't get it.

My kids tell their kids stories now about how we used to sit around the stereo at night LISTENING to a hockey game...even though it was on TV. It made them pay closer attention. We played Beatles LP's and sang along...they know all the words to the old Beatles songs. We weren't poor, in fact we made more money than our neighbors did, but we had a different set of priorities, and they benefited from them. My 3 children are now excellent parents, instilling a lot of what they learned into their own children. Makes me proud.

I think if more parents took their kids OFF the internet, those kids would become better children and someday better adults.
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#8 dalilavender

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 09:21 AM

This really is an amazing group of people on this forum.

I am constantly reminded from threads like this how intelligent and compassionate the members are on here.
"If you can cultivate the right attitude, your enemies are your best spiritual teachers because their presence provides you with the opportunity to enhance and develop tolerance, patience and understanding."
-His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Raincoast ETSY

"What you are now is the result of what you were. What you will be tomorrow will be the result of what you are now."
- Dhammapada





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