Hawaii's youth are growing up in a community where technology is constantly evolving. Social networks and cell phones are valued tools for communicating with friends and loved ones, meeting new people and coordinating events. The ability to communicate with others without confrontation has its advantages; however, some youth are using this opportunity for the bad, behaving inappropriately. Cruel, disheartening messages and comments are being sent to peers using various social networks. The content of these messages and comments threaten, harass, impersonate and/or mock the victim (Cyber). This type of behind-the-computer bullying is called cyber bullying.
Cyber bullying effects up to 50% of Hawaii's youth (Mendoza). Cyber bullying correlates directly to a drop in youth school attendance and grades, and increased suicide rates (Bullying FAQ). Victims of cyber bullying are 2.5 times more likely to binge drink; 2 times more likely to report depression; and 3.2 times more likely to attempt suicide. If schools educate their students, parents become more involved in their children's social network use and consequences are enforced, cyber bullying can be stopped.
Many schools do not educate or inform their students on the consequences and emotional effects bullying can have on others (Paullet and Chawdhry). Often times, if a case is brought up to a school staff member, the staff member will only relay the information to the victim's parent. Schools are failing to assist cyber bullying victims, and are not teaching students how to prevent cyber bullying and address it.
In 2011, Hawaii's governor created a new law regarding cyber bullying; all Hawaii schools are required to report cyber bullying incidents to the police (Poythress). Though it is required, not all schools comply or report every incident. Students should be able to trust that their school will support them and follow through with a cyber bullying report, and schools should offer information on how to prevent and handle cyber bullying for those who are victimized and those who are not.
Cyber bullying information should be constantly regulated between teachers, school staff members and students, with respect being the most imperative aspect. The Olweus program (an antibullying organization that educates and informs students and teachers) was tested at a Pennsylvania high school for three months. After the three months, data showed that 25% of bullying had decreased (Hart). The same program was implemented for a year at a large school in Norway. After one year, bullying decreased by 50% (Bullying Intervention). Though this program was not focused on cyber bullying, cyber bullying can be reduced using the same techniques as schoolyard bullying.
Students need to know what effect cyber bullying can have on people by hearing true stories and statistics. Consequences need to be verbalized and enforced so that students do not think they can get away with harmful behavior. The more...