Words can be so hurtful. I remember when I was a child/preteen/teenager all it took was for someone to write me a note and say...."I don't like you" to send me over the emotional edge. Children want to be accepted so much....and when they are not it is devastating. During my summer vacation, you know the three months I have off each year to do nothing, I attended several workshops on cyberbullying and I have also watched several of those made for television movies on cyberbullying....and to be honest the workshops and the movies all made me quite sick. It is hard for me to understand how any one could be so hurtful to another individual....to the point that the one being bullied might actually take their life. I have to admit I was like an ostrich at first and chose to stick my head in the ground.....until I saw the statistics for our state, our county, my system.....and that just floored me. There was actually a cyberbullying attempt made by a first grader to another first grader via test messages. Number one...what is a first grader doing with a cell phone???? I guess that is why I was absolutely delighted when our school board started something called the ACBOE Parent University and the first workshop they are hosting is about bullying in cyberspace and real time. Since the posting of the workshop I have had countless parents ask me exactly what cyberbullying is and then ask if it really is a problem in our school. My answer to them a resounding, "YES!" and then to tell them that "Cyberbullying" is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. It has to be a minor on both sides, or at least have been instigated by a minor against another minor. Once adults become involved, it is plain and simple cyber-harassment or cyberstalking. Adult cyber-harassment or cyberstalking is NEVER called cyberbullying. It takes on the term preditory. Cyberbullying isn't when an adult is trying to lure children into offline meetings, that is called sexual exploitation or luring by a sexual predator. There is a huge difference.....but sometimes when a minor starts a cyberbullying campaign it involves sexual predators who are intrigued by the sexual harassment or even ads posted by the cyberbullying offering up the victim for sex. The methods used are limited only by the child's imagination and access to technology. And the cyberbully one moment may become the victim the next. The kids often change roles, going from victim to bully and back again. For some kids this is a game....much like dungeons and dragons back in the 80's and 90's. It is all in fun.....to them....but then...someone steps over the line and it becomes serious....even deadly. Children have actually killed each other and committed suicide after having been involved in a cyberbullying incident. Cyberbullying is usually not a one time communication, unless it involves a death threat or a credible threat of serious bodily harm. Kids usually know it when they see it, while parents may be more worried about the lewd language used by the kids than the hurtful effect of rude and embarrassing posts. Cyberbullying may rise to the level of a misdemeanor cyberharassment charge, or if the child is young enough may result in the charge of juvenile delinquency. Most of the time the cyberbullying does not go that far, although parents often try and pursue criminal charges. It typically can result in a child losing their ISP or IM accounts as a terms of service violation. And in some cases, if hacking or password and identity theft is involved, can be a serious criminal matter under state and federal law. So what is the schools place in this? They can educate the students and parents on cyberethics and have a good acceptable use policy in place., one with a provision added that allows the school to discipline a student for actions taken off-campus if they threaten another student. If you are a parent....read up on cyberbullying. It is a terrible thing. Watch your child and notice if there is a change in their behavior. I don't know about the rest of you.....I use cyberspace to do my blog....and this practice of cyberbullying makes me sick....I want to stop cyberbullying now...and forever!
I am a woman who wears many hats and loves them all. I am a singer - I sing with the group Still Magnolias. I was part of the original First United Methodist Church Arbor Praise Team until we moved. After 24+ years of teaching English 11 and Spanish I - II at Benjamin Russell High School I decided to take a job closer to home. I now teach Spanish I & 2 at Randolph Co. High School and Wadley. I thought I was getting close to retirement and looking forward to it, but decided to move my cheese and try something different. I am a preacher's wife and a preacher myself. My husband Frank is the pastor at Rock Mills United Methodist Church and I am the pastor at Midway (Wedowee). It has made our conversations interesting, to say the least.