Cyberbullying

One of the traditions at my high school was for the school newspaper to devote much of the final issue of the last year to “wills” from the seniors to students in other classes.  My sophomore year, the advisor of the newspaper got into trouble because the newspaper editors – all seniors, all good students going onto expensive colleges – had co-opted that tradition in order to publicly print lists along the lines of “girls I’d like to…” you get the idea.

From Totally Wired:

Teens have also used blogs and Web sites to post lists or rankings of other students.

Yeah, so what else is new?  In other non-news people are still nostalgic for the past, despite the past having poorer health carer and more discrimination.

I’m not trying to say that cyberbullying is not a specific problem that presents unique obstacles, just that a certain amount of the issue – as Goldstein alludes to when she talks about people finally studying bullying – is that we are finally starting to care. Sometimes.

That kids do this isn’t new, it’s just that the scale is finally forcing us to pay attention to it, when we didn’t before. That same advisor is still teaching.* He also gets good reviews at ratemyteacher.com, because, like a lot of bullies, he’s very personable. I don’t think he’d still be teaching if the story had made the news because it was posted online. But the fact that the outside world didn’t hear about it didn’t make it any less damaging to the students that were at the school at the time, it just made it infinitely less embarrassing for the school district.

I also think it’s worth pointing out that a lot of the bullying that kids do is often copying the bullying that adults do – even if the frequency is higher. If we want to teach boys and girls that, for example, they should not be passing around private photos without the permission of the person in the photo, then we need to stop acting like adults who find themselves in this situation deserve what they get. Making it about the worthiness of the victim instead of the action of the bully makes it easy and likely that the victim will be blamed and the bullying will continue.

*no, I don’t know that he knew about it beforehand, but I was around at the time – I was a member of the junior class writing staff – and I saw how he handled the aftermath. With lots of smirks and smiles.

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