We Need Harsh Punishments For Cyberbullying

2768 words - 11 pages

The playground bully is a classic figure in the life of children. Shoving, pushing, pinching, name-calling, and dirt-throwing are some of its favorite pastimes. In the modern world, however, bullying is moving to another arena, one much more sophisticated and secretive than the jungle gym. Bullying that takes place online, or cyberbullying, is a growing area of concern among the younger generations. Recent events have thrown cyberbullying, rather unceremoniously, into the spotlight. After being relentlessly tormented online for ten months, Rebecca Sedwick, a twelve-year-old girl from Florida, committed suicide by jumping from the roof of a defunct concrete plant on September 10, 2013. Two teenage girls, Katelyn Roman and Guadalupe Shaw, both older than Rebecca, were charged with felony aggravated stalking upon further investigation into Rebecca’s death. These charges were dropped the week of November 18, 2013, with prosecutors unable to compensate for “a lack of evidence” (Kemp). The controversy over saddling minors with a felony charge caused quite a stir in the media. The correct response to cyberbullying is a growing area of contention. In some cases, criminalization is preferred, while other bullies are slapped on the wrist and grounded for a month. What can be agreed upon is the need for a definitive policy. Cyberbullying, as a burgeoning field of abuse directed specifically at teens, requires direct, speedy, and, perhaps even harsh, measures to curtail the stream of mistreatment flowing freely online.
In order to develop such measures, cyberbullying must be recognizable. The government website dedicated to the prevention of bullying in general offers this definition: cyberbullying is “bullying that takes place using electronic technology” (“What is Cyberbullying.”). Listed with the definition are psychological effects of online harassment, which include increased risk for substance abuse, loss of interest in education, low self-esteem levels, and worsened health (“What is Cyberbullying.”). The Cyberbullying Research Center lists delinquency, social withdrawal, and increased suicidal tendencies as effects of prolonged abuse (Hinduja, Fact Sheet). Statistics indicate that sixteen percent of high school students ages fourteen to eighteen were terrorized through online channels in 2011 (“What is Cyberbullying.”). Based off of these numbers and the enrollment in United States high schools, roughly 2.37 million teens have been victims of cyberbullying (Fast Facts). Touching many and reaching far, cyberbullying is a unique issue. According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, there are four defining factors of cyberbullying. First, the relative anonymity of the web creates an attractive forum for abusive language. Teens are able to post what they want when they want, while remaining incognito. Second, the web is universally accessible. This can create a complex of all-or-nothing thinking in the mind of the victim, leading them to assume...

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