Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cyber-bullying

Criminal activity has taken on a new form. I was reading the news headlines yesterday, and a group of nine teenagers are being held accountable for a young girl's death. Phoebe Prince took her own life at the young age of 15. She seemed to be a normal kid who did all of the normal things that kids do. She had a boyfriend and some of the popular girls did not like her for it. The boy broke up, and the kids swarmed on her with physical, verbal and cyber taunts. A large part of their bullying was through texting, facebook, and other forms of social media. The girl went to the school administration for help a week before she took her own life. They were either unwilling or incapable of offering help.

Of course everyone is pointing fingers and trying to find a solution. Some point at the school and the administration. Some point to teen herself. Some point to the parents of the young people. But now, (finally) someone is deciding to turn the tables and actually blame the kids who did the bullying.

Will these bullies actually be held accountable for their actions? I hope they will. I hope they wake up and get a full taste of reality. It seems like there are laws to protect people outside of the school from these incidents, but often, in the schools, things go unchecked. What grief that family must be going through!

And yet, I've witnessed it even in my small little world. I didn't even know what to call it at first. Some of you may have read: Emily @ under $1000 a month. A young gal with a husband and three little kids. Sure, she started off the way normal blogs do--kind of slow. And then things started getting more heated up as she (probably unwisely) gave details of her life that could be thought of as controversial without securing a steady audience first. The reason I say unwisely, is that her audience base was a mixed bag of Christians and non-Christians, frugal, non-frugal, conservative and non-conservative, healthy and non-healthy. When you have such a span of interests and readers, you can't expect them to give a lot of "grace" in the areas where you are still learning. (Yes, there are some people who are prone to getting picked on, and she was one of them) But still!

It was cyber-bullying. Let's call it what it was! What could have been a gradual development of ideas became a cesspoool of controversy and criticism. What could have become a gentle entry into the cyber world became a horrendous splash. And we have one less blogger now. The critics have knocked her off the wrung of her ladder. Mean words, spoken (typed) in hate by people who have a need to dominate others by putting them down.

And it could happen to anyone. It could happen to me. (It's not happening, just so you know) And it takes courage to stand up to the bad guys. It takes a lot of grace to handle criticism. It takes humility to take negative comments in such a way that helps you improve rather than get defensive.

I haven't been tested in this way in a while, have you? Have you been picked on? bullied? What did you do about it? And how can we reach out to others who are getting picked on? No, I can't bring Phoebe back. Even if I lived in Massachusetts, I'm not sure I could have helped her, except if I offered to homeschool her.. But I can reach out to the hurting right here, right now. I can teach my own kids to deal wisely with people and have compassion on those who are enduring abuse.

7 comments:

DarcyLee said...

Oh, what a good post! I've read more than once on blogs about kids getting picked on at school and it starts very young. I don't remember it being such a problem when I was in school but then that was oodles of years ago when teachers were still the boss and so were the parents. It's sad that no one was really paying attention to what was happening to that girl. My heart grieves for her family. Oh, and I'm totally in agreement with you about Emily's blog. It's a crime that she has had to back away from her blog.

Organizing Mommy said...

Darcy: I'm with you! Our school was so calm compared to what is going on now. If people started getting to high on their honches, somebody would knock them down. It wasn't tolerated. I guess the "gangs" are so powerful now. Hey, Emily, you have a fan here.

Braley Mama said...

people need to learn that words hurt!
like the verse I am teaching my daughter...Encourage one another and build each other up.1 Thess 5"11
God did not say maybe do this, he said Do It!

Ruby said...

That is terribly sad to read of a girl taking her own life because of buulying. Of course, we have heard similar stories overy here of the mobile phones and FB being used to bully. It is certainly much more nasty and violent then in our day.
I never got to read Emily's blog. It does seem as you say that some people just delight to put another person down :-( That is a bully for sure.
I try to show our kids that this seemingly sheltered life we lead is sooo much calmer and edifying than the big, bad school world.
Lord, give us grace to speak peace to others and build them up.

Mrs. Parunak said...

I'm so very sorry to hear about Emily's blog! I didn't get to read very much of it, but I sure did like what I read. You have to be so careful about life on the Internet, careful what you share, how you share it, and how you manage disagreement, because there really are people out there who are extremely cruel.

Becky said...

I would be glad if something were to be done with the kids that are doing the bullying. Bullying has been around forever, and always will be. What makes it so bad today is how quickly something can get around. Two things people should always remember, and teach to their kids: don't give people fodder to work with - keep your nose clean and at the very least what ever bad stuff gets out had to be fabricated. Second, parents need to be more proactive in their kids lives. My parents wouldn't even let me hang up a phone in anger; you had to comport yourself with dignity at all times. If I hung up on someone(rudely), I lost phone privileges. If a parent even suspects a child of using the computer or phone for this sort of thing, they should (at the very least) take those privileges from that child.

Kathryn said...

No, i've had some comments that hurt me a little, but they were well meant by people who only wanted to be kind. And eventually, i got to the point where i could admit that even tho i was hurt, there was truth behind what they said & i needed to learn from it.

I've visited a couple of the larger sites where people have been unkind or rude. Words hurt even the "big" people the same as the rest of us.

And, i have to admit, that there have been times that i've been down & something i read hits me the wrong way & i have to work not to post a sarcastic, "How very nice for you." There are times when jealousy/envy take hold of me when reading about the lives of others. I pray i don't ever get quite that way, however.

I guess it is what is in the heart of folks that comes out when they respond.