Cyber bullying, the use of computers or other electronic devices to torment others, is becoming a consistent occurrence causing depression and suicide. Megan Meier, one student affected by cyber bullying, committed suicide after being bullied over the internet.
Email, instant messaging, texting and social networking sites, such as MySpace and Facebook are forms of technology where cyber bullying takes place.
According to i-SAFE.org, cyber bullying could show itself in many forms, such as, a threatening email, a website set up to mock others, “borrowing” another’s screen name and sending messages while pretending to be them, or even forwarding someone’s private messages, pictures or videos to others.
All of these forms of bullying could lead to disastrous results.
The story of Megan Meier is one of many examples that demonstrate the horrific outcomes that cyber bullying allows.
Meier was thirteen when she joined MySpace and befriended “Josh Evans,” a boy who had supposedly moved to her town that month.
She formed an online friendship and began to trust him.
After a few weeks of online flirtation, “Josh” began sending Meier rude messages. According to the New York Times, one message said “the world would be a better place without you.”
After being bullied online by the Josh Evans for a few weeks, Meier sent him a message saying “You’re the kind of guy that makes a girl want to kill themselves.” Twenty minutes later, Meier killed herself.
Six weeks after Megan Meier committed suicide her parents learned that “Josh Evans” was an online character created by a neighborhood girl and her mother who dedicated their time to tormenting Meier over the internet.
Sadly, Meier was not the only one who committed suicide due to cyber bullying. According to USA Today, there have already been three children between the ages of 12 and 13 that committed suicide due to depression caused by cyber bullying in the past two years.
I recently watched a PBS special on what cyber bullying can do to girls in today’s society. It told the story of a Libby Rice, a 14 year-old girl who was a victim of cyber bullying.
She received many nasty text messages that called her many dirty names and other rude titles such as “fake.”
After receiving texts like these, Rice was left with no friends. The so called “popular clique” banished her, and she was forced to eat lunch in the bathroom.
The same special also brings attention to one of today’s most popular shows, “Gossip Girl.” The show’s main character is an anonymous source, who delivers all of the juiciest gossip and pictures to the shows characters via text message.
When shows such as these are giving the message that it is okay to send rumors through text messaging, teenagers are given the wrong impression of what is acceptable when it comes to texting.
Cyber bullying is also an issue here at Leesville.
Caroline Gentry, sophomore, is one student who has been affected by cyber bullying recently.
“I commented on a picture of my friends on Facebook, and I was just trying to be friendly, but all my friends started ganging up on me,” said Gentry, “They told me to shut up, and called me hypocritical. Lots of people joined in and started ganging up on me, and no one was on my side, I didn’t know what to say, because everything I said was used against me.” Said Gentry.
Although it was tough, Gentry handled the situation the way that anyone should: “I realized I just needed to stop listening to them. I knew that my friends that mattered wouldn’t listen to the stuff online, and the only reason people were being so mean was because they were hidden by a computer screen. Everyone is braver when they don’t have to say things to a person’s face.”
According to an i-SAFE survey , 42 percent of teenage students admitted to having been bullied while online or via text, and 53 percent admitted to have said hurtful things to others while online or texting.
The danger of this technology is most likely due to the instant gratification that the internet or a text message provides, it only takes a few seconds to type and send a message. Various crude messages can be fired out of a cell phone or a computer in seconds, and can be sent to large groups of people at once, when verbal and physical bullying takes more time and thought.
i-SAFE offers tips to all those that may be subjected to this form of bullying. If ever cyber bullied, be sure to tell a trusted adult, do not open or respond to rude messages, block those that appear to be bullies, and if threatened or harmed, call the police.